Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Blog Action Day - Our Neighbors' Desperate Poverty
I worry about the economy. Our retirement and the girls' college tuition bills are years and years away. My worries are in another place. I worry about the current economic crisis because of the corrosive power of fear.
I worry that we will let our economic fears tighten our hold on our wallets, spur us to retreat to our bomb shelters, and harden us to the severe needs of the least of our brothers and sisters.
Haiti is so close to America, only 600 miles from Florida. The island of Hispaniola on which the country lies is also home to the Dominican Republic. The two countries are a study in contrasts. While the Dominican Republic is lush with verdant rain forests and the coastline is rimmed with luxurious resorts, Haiti's forests have been decimated, largely to be burned for charcoal. Most of its arable soil has been eroded away. Learn more in this brief article from National Geographic.
Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere was in a desperate state even before the recent hurricanes.
In the picture above, the woman, Yolen Jeunky, of Port-au-Prince, is collecting not clay bowls, not some form of fuel, but food. The poor of Haiti have been reduced to subsisting on mud mixed with salt and shortening, then dried.
Haiti's life expectancy is a mere 51 years. The mortality of infants less than a year old is 75%.
Don't look away. Please don't be hardened. If you believe in prayer, please offer them, but do not stop there. Partners in Health, led by the visionary doctor Paul Farmer, has established a hospital and medical program in Central Haiti that serves the health and well-being of hundreds of families. PIH's philosophy of "whatever it takes" extends beyond crisis care to long term rebuilding of hopeful and healthy lives. You can find ways to help here.
Please don't be paralyzed with fear of our economic woes. Please don't rationalize away the crisis of our brothers and sisters that is far beyond our own. Please do what you can to help.