I’m torn by the devastation in Haiti.
All the images of desperation, the anguished cries for help, the total destruction – it’s numbing to the mind and the senses.
Never in my recollection has their been an event so totally heart-wrenching. It makes Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami seem small in comparison. While the tsunami killed something like 230,000 people, the deaths were spread over a wide area. As many as that may have died just in a few square miles of Port-au-Prince.
There has been widespread criticism of the speed of relief efforts. But as it becomes more clear how overwhelming the obstacles are, it also seems to be clear that the best efforts would have struggled.
Probably because of Katrina and the controversy created by the bureaucratic stumbles during the relief effort in 2005, journalists started asking whether the relief was arriving too slowly on the first day after the Haiti quake. That line of questioning has been a regular part of the news story from the beginning.
I understand why. At some point, those questions will be relevant and finding the answers will be important. But it seems absurd to be focusing on what went wrong at this point, rather than what can be done.
And what can be done? For most of us here in the U.S., about all we can do is send money to whatever relief agency seems to make the most sense – the Red Cross, the Bush-Clinton fund, UNICEF, etc.
At Monroe County Community College, professors JoEllen Locher and Alex Babycz and administator Brian Lay all have ties with Haiti and have been encouraging the college community to participate in the relief efforts. They’ve also provided reports from friends and relatives in Haiti – making the media images seem more personal, more real.
Haiti was a mess before the earthquake. Maybe there is a glimmer of hope that as the crushed infrastructure is rebuilt, the international relief effort can also raise the quality of life in Haiti.
I don’t know. I don’t have any solutions, and I don’t know what could have been done better. But at least I can add a few of my dollars to the effort, along with my hopes and prayers.