I’m taking a pause from the Food Series to address what I feel is a timely and important issue in Haiti.
The biggest disaster to hit Haiti is unfortunately not the earthquake, rather it’s how the Haitian people are responding to the circumstances brought on by the earthquake. I watch in amazement as events more deadly than the earth’s rumblings brutally strangle a country that is already on its knees economically and socially.
I’m sure that many of you are well aware that Haiti is classified as a “third world country” or otherwise known as “a developing country.” They have been plagued with poverty, crime, and political disarray from the beginning of their existence.
Haiti is also no stranger to natural disasters.
Every other year for the last 6 years, Haiti has been debilitated at the hand of a flooding, hurricanes, tropical storms, and quakes. And yet the government authority has never instituted ANY disaster preparation for their people. No community center or church within Haiti has tasked themselves with any preparedness learning or supplies either. The Haitians continue to eek out an existence learning the same lesson over and over again every couple of years. I don’t know about you, but when I seem to hit a continual losing streak over and over again, I finally figure out that I need to do something different. I feel very responsible for bringing peace and order back into my life. And when it comes to preparing for future scenarios of chaos, I take full responsibility for anything and everything I possibly can. I figure that I stand the best chance of being blessed with the miraculous assistance that I’m going to need to fill in the gaps.
Haiti was receiving a great deal of economic assistance prior to the earthquake. The majority of Haitians live on less than $60 a month. Home to about 9 million residents, two-thirds of Haitians are unemployed. There is very little public education offered. And they are working with an annual budget of less than $10 billion. Ironically, money coming from family members who are working abroad accounts for TWENTY percent of their economy. As a result of their continual bombardment of natural disasters, Haiti is very likely to default on their country’s recent $700 million in loans from Inter-American Development Bank. They have already been provided with half a billion dollars in debt relief. And to think this is just the economic scene.
The lack of leadership in their nation is also a disaster of epic proportions. So much so that I’m struck with the irony that the destruction of almost every key political fortress is a most accurate symbol reflecting the present state of leadership and organization in Haiti. Truly adding insult to injury, the biggest danger to Haitians right now is the lack of leadership, order and preparation. The rule of law is a dark, black hole in Haiti. It is this absence of the rule of law that scares corporations from developing there. While the work is cheap, the vulnerabilities are too high of a risk for international companies to take, regardless of the short song they would pay for the manpower. This is why, nearly a week after the earthquake, their country has completely collapsed with no visible signs of recovery. How vital is it that a plan for preparedness is backed by direction and order in saving the Haitians?
Relief for Haiti
There are presently over 15 nations now coming to the aid of Haiti totaling over 1 billion dollars worth of necessary food, water, shelter, and medical supplies. Another several billion dollars has already been contributed in the form of manpower, expertise, medical assistance, shipping costs, and transportation. In other words, Haiti has received over 20% of their annual budget in just the past week. And yet we see their own desperation and misery damning these monumental efforts to save them and provide some comfort. The escaped prisoners have merely added to the scene of melee. Lawlessness has been destroyed on both sides of the line of justice. Is it any wonder that there yet appears no light of calm and order to shine on Haiti? Without leadership and planning, even the desperate cannot be saved. Sufficient leadership and planning are only brought about from the hearts of the courageous and believing. Only those who have stored up spiritual and mental strength in preparation for whatever shall attempt to conquer them can lead or be lead back to safety and peace. The healing which battered people need comes from order and a deliberate plan of contingencies. Peace cannot be dropped from an aircraft or donated in the form of currency. It must be stored up within our own souls for a time such as this.
The suffering of the Haitian people as a whole is very real. But the resolve to put things back together must be stronger and speak more boldly than their desperation. Desperate moments are just that—small moments along a string of eternity. But we can sell away our eternal peace, dignity, worth, and our very souls if we fail to nurture our hearts and our minds more fully against a day such as this.
The Haitians greatest needs must come from inside the people themselves. Such cannot be borrowed from a fellow virgin with a vessel of oil. I pray that we can all make use of this visual lesson which we have before us at the hands of a suffering nation. May we take more seriously the need for the spiritual and mental preparedness now which will inevitably be tested to the extreme… someday for all of us.
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