A personal response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake

That catastrophic day on Jan. 12, 2010, the evening news recounted the magnitude 7 earthquake that devastated Haiti. It was in in almost all local networks in my country. I watched at home as the unbelievable destruction unfolded before my eyes. I felt the pain the Haitians were going through.

Excerpts of the news from BBC and CBS were flashed by our local newscasters, Channel 7 and Channel 9. Even online, the shock waves were reverberating through all news sites.

I closed my eyes and said a fervent prayer for them, as images of the destruction greeted me anywhere I turned. I prayed that the natural disaster would stop soon, and that they would be able to accept whatever misfortunes nature had brought upon them. That was all that I did though – nothing more.

I would be a hypocrite and a liar if I would claim that I donated anything. The truth is I did not donate a single cent or any clothing to the victims of the Haiti earthquake. I believe though, that I “donated” one of the most powerful kinds of “help” those people needed – prayers.

As I continued watching the daily news, I learned that the whole world responded generously to Haiti’s call for help. Assistance poured in from the US, UK and other countries, I contented myself in praying every chance that I got. My country contributed eventually by sending the “Fleet Marine” troops, as peacekeepers.

I did have a certain desire then to give tangible help as well, because I knew I should couple my prayers with actions, but the news of the millions of donations pouring in for Haiti from all over the world had made me conclude that my donation would be insignificant.

This is also because of my meager finances. I worked double time to put food on the table, and I moonlighted as a freelance writer during my free time. If facts were revealed, I might be the one needing some donations, but I know that this is not an excuse not to be able to donate.

Every single donation counts, so I finally checked my PayPal account and decided to donate the $10 that was left. The alleged corruption involved in the handling of donations however, has stopped me again from donating whatever little amount I had.

Donating through PayPal had eventually escaped my mind as I went about my daily chores and caught glimpses of news about Haiti’s slow rebuilding process. When the final data was gathered, there were more than 200,000 people dead, more than 300,000 injured and 3,500,000 affected.

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Thinking about it now, I realized that I should have sent the $10 anyhow. There must be a few good men in Haiti who could put to good use that little amount, but that is water under the bridge. Now, I have no excuses though; I still have the chance to donate that $10 if I wanted to.

Haiti has suffered so much, and I did nothing tangible to help. I once read that you can change the world by doing what you do best and I believe that although I’m not a famous author like J.K. Rowling, I know I can express myself sufficiently to bring this message to readers all over the globe.

Aside from my constant prayers, I am certain that participating in Helium’s campaign to create public awareness about the plight of Haiti is my way of doing something tangible. With this comes the realization that the amount of help does not count a lot, but it is what you do with that help that counts the most.

This is an appeal too for Haitian officers involved in rebuilding their nation that they should not squabble among themselves regarding the donations. The resignation of Haiti’s Prime Minister Gary Conille because of a “row over earthquake reconstruction efforts” is an example. This would deter Haiti’s progress.

Hopefully, my message would create more awareness among indifferent people like me; that in our own little ways we can do something about the plight of Haiti and the call for help of needy people anywhere in the planet.

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