I have watched the news and read some of the newspapers and Haiti has stopped to be the main focus of attention. There are other parts of the world that have received more or not as much attention and they have also gone into oblivion for most except for those who have some type of connection to the respective area of conflict.
In many cases having a fundraiser to benefit one of the places leaves us numb to the fact that for them life continues even if the TV cameras do not record the hardships.
I have attended several committees, workshops, forums and other forms of informational meetings on Colombia, Congo, Honduras, Iraq. I know that after the down feeling that comes with the news, the activism that temporarily generates, then in order to maintain some sort of normalcy everyone goes back to business as usual in their daily lives.
I am not implying that caring and wanting to help is not there. I have seen people in the US worrying and acting on various issues especially in the case of catastrophes.
Nevertheless, the situation for many has changed so much that right now they are on the receiving end due to lack of employment, loss of income and individual difficult financial circumstances. Yet, people have responded with the usual generosity for a short while. The concern still exists about how and when to help.
It is worrisome though that some of the fundraisers done by churches, groups, or organizations are considering ‘taking’ themselves with the donations to Haiti. In this case, unless people are in the medical field, the people going to Haiti will overburden the local situation with their presence since they require water, food, and lodging unavailable at this point, but also because the moneys used for plane tickets and other expenses, even if they are been paid by individuals, could be used as additional funds for the many who need help.
According to the official estimates there were about 9.5 million people in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. Also there were about 3000 non-governmental agencies (NGO’s), without counting the numerous churches and organizations have been established in the country.
One would think that even if most infrastructure was demolished by the earthquake in Port- au-Prince, there still are many local people to work with in order to make the moneys available for what is needed.
The ‘social-religious tourism’ that many times takes place around these painful issues should be re-considered now in order to give an effective hand to the Haitian people.
Maybe it would be more to their advantage and the growth of those involved in the matter if we keep this in mind and turn to other effective ways of helping even after the news media have stopped their coverage.
There has to be a way to change our conscience about how we respond to the pain of others. The same happens when everybody forgets about the widow and orphans three days after funeral. If it were our personal loss, what would we hope to receive from others?
We will be ‘celebrating’ Valentine’s Day, this month. The question is: What is love and how do I incorporate my answer into real life?
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