I have never been to Haiti.
Even before the earthquake struck, I didn’t think much about Haiti.
I knew it was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. I knew outrageous stories from former students and friends. They told me of the Caribbean island nation’s infamous leaders. I knew of its sugar cane connections to Acadiana. And, I knew a bit about its magic.
Even after the earthquake struck, I didn’t want to write about Haiti.
I didn’t want to see images from Haiti.
I didn’t want to think about Haiti.
Here in the good ole USA, my life was going just fine. I had other things to think and write about this week. I tried to avoid letting Haiti affect my world.
Except I know that is not the way the world works.
Even though personal connections with Haiti and Haitians may be slim and tenuous, when disaster strikes on the scale of the Haitian earthquake, it affects us all – whether we want it to or not.
Chaos during a disaster is only topped by the greater chaos that follows it. In Haiti, a country that has struggled with the depths of poverty, the ability to run an effective government and the capacity to create stable infrastructure, extreme disaster chaos boggles the mind. After a friend of mine visited Haiti last year – in the best of circumstances, she relayed stories of many Haitian children eating mud cakes to satisfy the hunger of an empty stomach.
Just think about Louisiana in the days that followed Katrina. Louisiana is a state in the richest country in the world with resources galore.
Haiti, on the other hand, is an island nation – with few resources. Even in the best of circumstances, the Haitian government is challenged to provide for its residents.
What will the Haitian survivors do? How can concerned people help?
I don’t have answers. I’m not sure what actions mere mortals in Louisiana can take to make a positive difference. However, I do believe that keeping Haitians in our thoughts – and prayers, if you’re so inclined – can make a positive difference.
I know first-hand the difference positive vibes can make. Four years ago, when my husband was sick and believed to be dying, I could feel people praying for us. I could also tell when many of them stopped. Out of crisis, people move on. It’s natural. I understood. But by the time my friends’ and loved one’s prayers were needed elsewhere, I had my footing and could make it.
The going in Haiti will be tough for a long time to come. The individual Haitians I’ve known are a lot like people I know in Acadiana. They are prepared to work hard to overcome their struggles. Haiti’s motto is “L’Union fait la force” which means, “Unity is strength.”
I’ve never been to Haiti, and may very well never go. However, I’d like to do what I can to help them find that strength.