Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's NOT Make Haiti the 'Cause du Jour'

Haiti needs many things but false benevolence is not one of them.

There are many of us here in the United States who are learning about Haiti for the very first time. There is really no excuse for this ignorance, but I think of it simply as the privilege of arrogance and global indifference that comes with being a natural American citizen. We only focus on developing countries on a need to know basis--do they have something that the U.S. wants or needs? Then, we need to know them. If a country has nothing we need or want, why should we know them--especially if they're poor?
Haiti has experienced an earthquake of catastrophic proportions resulting in thousands of lost lives, unaccounted for loved ones, and demolition of buildings--including really important ones like hospitals. We have learned that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The earthquake did not cause their abject poverty. There are many non-governmental organizations who advocate and fund raise on behalf of the citizens and causes of Haiti--year in and year out. This is not vogue or chic.
Won't you search your hearts as you decide to get involved in immediate disaster response for Haiti? Are you giving donations or soliciting funds on behalf of Haiti because your heart tells you to intervene or has the media presented a compelling reason why you should give? Are you giving because you want feel to superior to the people of Haiti (to whom much is given much required--yeah, right) or do you share in their pain? And finally, are you giving because you want others to know how generous you can be? Don't do the right thing for the wrong reason.

Remember, when the cameras leave the island, the people of Haiti will still live in the poorest of nations. Is what you are deciding to contribute to this cause going to help propel them into a life of eventual self-sufficiency? Or do you want to simply apply a bandage to a wound that needs major surgery. Don't let Haiti be a 'cause du jour'--that is, the chic thing to do at the moment.

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