Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti: A Quake Needs Attending To Properly

We had a relatively minor earthquake near here (a 5.8 one just south of the Mexican border) 2 weeks ago that didn't even manage to skew the pictures and calenders on my wall here in San Diego. It wasn't scary (unless for folks experiencing their first one, perhaps), but it did remind a bunch of us that one of these days the more appropriate immediate verbal response to the shaking on the ground would be 'Sh*t!' instead of 'Cool!'... Port au Prince, Haiti is apparently on the same type of fault line as California's (in)famous San Andreas Fault (it doesn't run through San Diego, but skirts the mountains on our eastern border), so I can imagine what's going on there happening near here one day (perhaps not to the same catastrophic extent, but still not 'Cool!' inducing in the least).

So, for those of us who haven't already done anything to help but would like to (after all, just sitting there feeling sorry for the Haitians really aren't going to do them or anyone any good), here is a great webpage listing what organizations are on the ground in Haiti who can really use your donation (of any size) and how to contact them... along with helpful precautions against those soulless predators who wouldn't think twice about setting up a scam on the 'help Haiti here' theme to benefit themselves.

A lot of Haitians were living on $2 a day, so even a $5 donation would go a much longer way there than you might expect.


Id it is said...

A thoughtful and opportune post Smorg!
Every little contribution will make a difference. I was in a 6.8 earthquake myself in 1993-94(?) in a small hill station in the Himalayas, and I remember the devastation it caused!

Our student body here is going all out on the Haiti fundraiser and we have had a remarkable response.

Smorg said...

Holy cow, bro, that was a good size shake... and in the mountains at that!

Good on your student body in helping the Haitians. They just can't seem to get a break.... Hopefully they can rebuild before the hurricane season arrives.

Georg said...

Hi Smorgy,
It seems the main difference between the US American and the European mind set is that you have a "can-do" mentality and we have one "yes, but".

And so it is regarding Haiti, too. Maybe this is not the time to ask questions considering this enormous misery. And in fact, the media are clamoring for help on all channels.

Nevertheless, some questions come to my mind:
- why are they one of the poorest nations on this planet, totally unable to do something for themselves?
-They seem to have a President and a big white partly destroyed palace, of truly regal proportions.

But where is the administration, the fire fighters, the police?

- why is everybody talking about "security risks" instead of saying that for decades there to be a gangster or a thug is just a profession, like those "Tonton Macutes", under PapaDoc and his son "BabyDoc" ?

-Some days ago, I say a lengthy broadcast about Haitians abroad, in New York, somewhere in Canada and in Paris. They were praying clad in spotless white, others tried to come into contact with their families by phone but I missed some mention about their collecting money for help, too.


berenice said...

dear mister Smorg

thanks for this reminder, i trust UNICEF and i donated through them

and Herr Georg, YES always those questions arise, and sadly the world is never as black & white as we wished... and there so many unexplained things going on on every country...

life's "organic" i think... and even if people (specially germans heh heh) try to keep ALL in neat white boxes and working properly, well, it not always works like that

i was living in Mexico City, and 16, when the 1985 earthquakes destroyed my city... i saw regular every-day middle class people going from an OK life to live in total poverty and have nothing to eat!! and you could ask, well, why they didn't have their house insured? or where was the help, well, for one thing, most of the hospitals were down on the quake, and most firefighters and police men were dead themselves... life can become a mess so easily... so i feel is not time to judge but to lend a hand... it's very easy to think, oh that won't happen to me, i have my cautions... but shit does happen! and so suddenly, inadvertently, that's why it's a tragedy

salutes to my favorite bloggers: Id, mister Smorg, and herr Georg, btw Herr Georg, we are missing reading new stuff from you :)

Smorg said...

Hallo Georgy:
I really am rather ignorant about Haiti in general so I don't know why the country has been languishing in poverty before now (though I did know that the Haitian revolution was what enabled us to buy the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon for very cheap and that we didn't always treat the Haitians all that well ). :o)

Sometimes I wonder if the climate has something to do with how people in certain parts of the world behave. It seems like the hotter the place, the slower they move (I was nearly driven batty by the never mind there's no hurry Thai attitude when I visited there!). :oP Apparently parts of New Orleans are still wrecked 5 years after Hurricane Katerina, so I wonder how Port-au-Prince would be like come 2015, too.

Though, as Bere says, the immediate needs is so great that it's probably safer to help now and do the accounting a bit later. Thanks a bunch for stopping by! Hope the weather is being nice for you in the Midi! :oD

Hola Berenice:
You have really been through everything! Unicef is a great organization to donate to indeed! I went with Mercy Care and Medecins sans frontiere because I knew a few folks there from my college years. Would also donate blood to the Red Cross, but they won't have it (I've got an autoimmune disorder so the patients are probably better off without my help ;o)).

Hope you and les gatti are staying out of the cold wind! I think it actually hailed here for a bit last night. A wicked weather week for a change, ay?

Smorgy :o)

Georg said...

Hi everybody,

Absolutely, UNICEF is one of my favorites, too. I regularly give them some of my dough. And "Médecins sans Frontières".

And Berenice is right, those questions are typically German, we like trying to dive at the bottoms of every question. Nevertheless, if you happen to look at an aerial photo of Berlin in May 1945, the city looked worse than Porte-Au-Prince. But not long and there was no plundering.

At that time, we had a joke about the situation: do you want to have an overall view of Berlin? Just step on a chair.


Smorg said...

Hiya Georgy,

That is one of the German qualities that I wish is more widely adopted by non-Germans, though... I guess I'm not totally unbiased because my dad went to a university in Germany (he got his electrical engineering degree from Frankfurt) and loved how neat and efficient the people there are. And he tried his best to pass that on to us kids...

And so it bugs me when people here litter on the sidewalk and then complain about how dirty downtown San Diego looks. I always pick up the dry trash I pass on the streets and depositing them into the trash cans (there aren't enough of those around, to be sure). But most people don't.

I had a conversation with one of the neighbors about it a while back. She was of the opinion that one should not pick up the trash others litter on the streets because it would 'encourage the continuance of the bad behavior of littering.' I am of the opinion that the litterers don't hang around to watch and see if anyone would pick up the trash for them or not, or that they just don't care to begin with. But I live here and have to pass through here everyday and I want my streets to look clean... So in helping cleaning it up, at least I have the comfort of knowing that the streets are looking a bit better after I've passed by than before.

But I'm afraid there is a mind set here in America that favors not doing anything that 'isn't my job'... regardless of whether doing it would benefit the community or not. I'm not talking about the current situation in Haiti, but about everyday life here in America. We used to be known as a country of self-starters (people who would go ahead and do what needs to be done), but somehow nowadays most wouldn't go out of their way to do anything their job doesn't require them to. Rather they just say it's somebody else's job. I wonder if the Romans living in the last days of Pax Romana were the same way. :oP

Having said that, though, I should register my admiration for the many private people who do more than their fair shares... From the prominent ones like Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in rebuilding New Orleans to the anonymous do-gooders nobody talks about. I wish they are the norm instead of the exception.

Thanks a bunch for stopping by! :oD


Mark H said...

I have a preference for MSF who I have seen in my travels in different places and always impressive. Great article but I'm sad to say that I can see it being decades before Haiti truly recovers. It is a reminder of what a potent force our planet is at times.