Thursday, January 14, 2010

For Haiti

I know this isn't what this blog is actually about. This blog is about living a crunchier lifestyle, about being more green and bettering our own lives and our world through our environmental impact.

However, I think it's more important to be able to help others when we're able, and right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people right now in Haiti who are crying out for help from anyone and everyone.

I think everyone knows pretty well by now about the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti. Its capitol, Port-au-Prince, has been destroyed - the President's residence has been leveled, houses and businesses have crumbled, hospitals have collapsed on their patients and residents. Estimates of loss of life are varying; some reports cite a mere 30,000 deaths, while others estimate upwards of half a million people died in the early morning earthquake - and thanks to a lack of supplies, clean facilities, and hospitals, thousands more will undoubtedly pass away in the time between the quake and end of the week. Tonight, mothers and babies in Haiti are sleeping on the streets, surrounded by squalor, human fluids (blood, vomit, feces, and urine), and potential pickpockets. There is no electricity, no plumbing, and there is no safe place for families or individuals to stay. They are sleeping out in the streets, without supplies or enough food to go around for every person to have a full belly at the end of the day. People just like you and me, who work hard for what they have and who have spent their lives struggling to earn the meager $2 a day that most Haitians live off of, have lost absolutely everything, and will not easily be able to recover. Families have lost their homes, belongings, and life savings all at once. They do not have jobs anymore, nor houses, or beds. Babies at night cry for their favorite toy, parents mourn their lost family members and friends.

In short, Haiti is in ruins right now. We have ignored them long enough, we have stood by for so long and watched their struggles as an impoverished nation from afar and simply shrugged our shoulders and said, "Well, it's not me." We've given here or there, or maybe not at all, and have allowed ourselves to feel better about our decisions because for some reason their needs and wants haven't been as important as our own. Now is the time to reach out, to help, to offer more than what makes us comfortable. It's time to remember our fellow human beings the way we would want them to remember us, with open hearts and ears and the willingness to do whatever we need to in order to help and perhaps ease just a bit of their pain.

Obviously, we can't bring back those they have lost, nor can we immediately impact those that may well lose their fight before relief workers can get to them. But there are hundreds of thousands that we CAN help, that we MUST help because they too are important, because they need us and because we CAN help them.

So, how can you help?

There are a couple of options by text. You can text "Haiti" to 90999 to have $10 charged to your cell phone bill. That $10 will go to the American Red Cross for use in relief efforts. You can also text "Yele" to 501501 to have $5 charged to your cell phone bill that will go to Wyclef Jean's fundraising relief efforts. I have done both, because it's a quick, easy way to begin helping those in Haiti.

Beyond that, the most obvious way to help is to make monetary donations. has offered a comprehensive list of organizations and their contact/website information. All of these organizations are accepting donations or offers of assistance to help the earthquake survivors in Haiti. I highly suggest you check out each and every site, and see what you as an individual or a family can do to help.

Lastly, blood donation. The American Red Cross states that because no request for blood to Haiti has been made that they are not specifically collecting blood for the Haitian survivors right now. However, it doesn't take a lot of common sense to figure out that the request WILL be made - be it in Haiti, or in Florida or the surrounding communities where survivors are transferred. Let's face it: blood will be needed. Plasma will be needed. There will be hundreds of people needing transfusions or donations, and in the next few days, as the relief efforts kick into full gear, the need for blood will be extreme. As such, I highly suggest that everyone who is able should make an appointment to donate blood as soon as possible. Granted, the majority of blood tends to stay within the community to which it is donated, but when the call comes in, the Red Cross may well need to pull from all of its reserves, and that will leave some communities depleted.

It breaks my heart to think of those who have been so strongly impacted by this event. There are people in nations all over the world who are mourning the losses of friends and relatives. There are mothers who are grieving the losses of their babies, sisters and brothers who are missing their siblings, children who are without a parent or caretaker. There are parents who have no idea how they will continue to provide for their families, children who have no school to attend, and thousands who are in dire need of medical attention who will die before they can be reached because of a lack of medical supplies.

Please, help the families in Haiti. And after you have helped them, REMEMBER them, and the millions of people all over the world who live without enough, who go day to day without knowing where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep, and consider helping them out, too.

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