By Sally McGruire
It just doesn’t seem fair. Here is a country where the amount of people living below the poverty line is sixty-five percent. Sex trafficking is at its worst, almost half of the population is illiterate and the HIV rate is the highest within the Americas.
On Jan. 12 a massive earthquake erupted causing colossal destruction and it shook the globe. Haiti and its people have suffered much damage, especially within the past two weeks. Around the world people see the news of the tragedy and feel for the ones experiencing it, but they’ve done more than just feel.
The world is coming together, trying to create the best ways to help solve the problem of poverty brought by the earthquake, and not just by giving money. Although financial support is extremely essential, giving time is equally important. There are hundreds of ways to help people that are in distress almost 2,000 miles away.
The earthquake in Haiti brings news of 150,000 deaths and 600,000 left homeless. To get an idea of what 150,000 really feels like, try applying the number to a second. For 150,000 seconds to pass by it would take 2,500 minutes—or almost 42 hours; or nearly two days; that’s one person dying every second for nearly two full days. Counting out the seconds opens the eyes to see the shocking number of deaths that this 7.0 magnitude earthquake brought so fiercely. What is in store for those displaced and homeless?
The need for medical care is urgent. One cannot expect to throw money at an already poor country and expect good things to come of it. Doctors Without Borders has begun to occupy Haiti, setting up medical facilities in tents. National Nurses United is sending 10,000 volunteer nurses to help, but is lacking in monetary support. It is worried that disease will soon spread because of people being exposed to not only dead bodies before they are buried, but also from each other, as many are living in the same vicinities.
Ten days after the earthquake erupted, a concert called “Hope for Haiti” included performances by many musical artists such as Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, Sting, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, The Dave Matthews Band, John Legend, Justin Timberlake and many more. It was hosted by George Clooney in Las Angeles. While the musicians performed, well-known celebrities were on the telephone talking to people and taking donations to support UNICEF, the Red Cross, Jean’s Yele Foundation, Oxfam American and Partners in Health. Millions and millions of dollars donated by callers were received within only 24 hours. The concert was so quick to achieve publicity that a concert album has already been produced, and is readily available for purchase on iTunes.
Helping out with the situation once again does not require specifically direct financial support, and also does not have to be nationally or internationally recognized. Last Saturday and Sunday was a busy day for the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita. The place was buzzing with hundreds of volunteers waiting in line possibly for hours to get a chance to package food for Haiti. Hair nets and aprons were passed out to people, and everyone was assigned a job in the process of concocting a mixture of rice with other essential nutrients into plastic bags that were sealed and boxed in a short amount of time. On Saturday, ten hours of work resulted in 794,664 meals packaged, with the goal being one million. In only six hours on Sunday, that goal was reached and surpassed with the final result of packaged meals coming to an astounding 1,121,298. The process was sponsored by Numana, an international hunger relief organization that employs volunteers to package food for countries in need.
It is unfortunate that times like this unite the world a little bit. It seems there has to be a tragic event for people to grow closer. Why do so many people have to die in order for others to realize the pains and emotions of someone they’ve never bothered talking to before? The fact that we live in an imperfect world is apparent, but so is the fact that people can get out there and try to help as much as possible. There is no limit, nothing stopping people from doing so.
Sally McGuire is a freshman with an undeclared major. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.