Thursday, January 14, 2010

The horror, the humanity - Haiti!

The first stories that told of the incredible devastation from the earthquakes in Haiti were horrific. The news reports that were broadcast yesterday and this morning suggest that words can never quite give full measure to the heartbreak, pain and hopelessness being felt by millions of Haitians. There truly is an international response that is doing its best to counter the effects of 40 seconds of damage that will be felt for decades by survivors and their progeny. Americans have found themselves in a remarkable competition with Canadians, Chinese, Icelanders and others to rescue victims and get aid and supplies to those in need. It is ironic that Haiti, a survivor of four hurricanes in 2008 and terrible mudslides in 2009 that killed hundreds and left thousands homeless, was struck so ferociously by this latest disaster. History tells us that tragedy - whether from nature or man-made - has been a constant companion for Haitians. It was a revolution in Haiti an resulting unrest that caused waves of refugees to seek shelter in New Orleans two centuries ago. The city fathers took them in and they added to the melting pot of what was still then in large part a French-speaking province. Their influence and culture led to the practice of voodoo by large segments of the population and forever changed the complexion of this cosmopolitan city. Ever since its discovery by Christopher Columbus in the Fifteenth Century, HispaƱola, has been host to scores of disasters. Haiti, which occupies the western portion of the island it shares with the Dominican Republic, always seems to get the brunt of the natural disasters. Recent history has shown HIV-AIDS as rampant and a string of kleptocracies have taken undue advantage of the already impoverished people there. This latest tragedy may well be more than this troubled people can take. There is not one section of Port-au-Prince affected by collapsed or heavily damaged buildings. The appalling death toll is almost unimaginable. There is little medical help available and so the lucky wounded and homeless can only sit in the street waiting and hoping for help. The lack of supplies and basic human needs like food, water and sanitation will no doubt ramp up the numbers of dead and dying. This is a race against time and the humanitarian effort underway will have to be increased to meet the demand. My hope is the nations of the world, including the United States, will see what needs to be done and rise to the challenge.

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