Friday, January 22, 2010

Please give

In the week and a half following the earthquake in Haiti, I have been glued to CNN.

Port-au-Prince lies in ruin -- its people unsheltered, its children parentless, its wounded untreated. An estimated 1 million Haitians have been displaced.

It's staggering to watch the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere struggle to right itself in the wake of a catastrophe the likes of which would gravely test the emergency readiness and response of even the richest of nations. But for a country already impoverished, where even before the quake 80 percent of its citizens lived on less than $2 a day, it's almost unimaginable how this people will rise from the ashes.

Officials there have conservatively estimated some 150,000* Haitians have been laid to rest in the last 10 days alone. How many more have yet to be unearthed? And given the lack of emergent medical care, antibiotics and the ability to conduct even relatively routine surgeries, how many more will survive the initial quake only to die in the days and weeks to come?

Inevitably it's the children's faces that are the last to leave me as I fall asleep at night -- safe and warm in my bed, a seismically-sound roof over my head and uncontaminated food and water at the ready. No want, no need.

With no skills that I can put to use there binding up the injured or sheltering the homeless or feeding the hungry, I'm left to pray. And to open my wallet.

* The original 70,000 figure was updated by Haitian governmental officials on 1/25/10.

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