I found myself wondering yesterday why I don't remember such a global and national response to the Dec. 26th, 2004 tsunami. Maybe it was because I was only 18 (geez, that's creepy--I was still in high school), and back when I was 18, I wasn't nearly as aware of international issues as I am now, nor had I even thought about feminism and progressive thinking before.
Now I wonder if maybe it was because South Asia and Indonesia are farther away than Haiti. Maybe it's because the US only sent about $400,000 in aid according to Wikipedia. Maybe it had something to do with Bush being president. I have no fucking clue.
It was a devastating event; hundreds of thousands died, and I know that even today, many areas and communities are still recovering. It's not that I think that the situation in Haiti is necessarily "better," especially considering the state of the country even prior to the quake. It's that I'm trying to understand why I feel so much more involved in this event, and not the one in 2004. Is it because I've grown older? More socially aware/responsible? Or is it because of geographic or politics?
Some people are being idiots about the quake in Haiti, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh specifically. Their racist, assholish, narcissistic filth is humiliating, since I'm apparently from the same country that they are. What the hell is wrong with them? Limbaugh is going on and on about how we're helping LIGHT AND DARK-SKINNED!!!! people. Robertson is claiming that it's a "true story" that Haitians made a deal with the devil to escape the French.
I wonder if we made one to escape the British.
To make matters worse, now that there's an outpouring of aid and volunteers and supplies and everything else, everything's bottlenecking in Haiti. Roads are blocked, there's very little return fuel for planes (and landing is a motherfucker), and survivors are growing impatient.
Do survivors have the "right" to grow impatient and angry? That's not even the right question to ask. You don't have to have permission to have particular emotions, and in this case, it's understandable. I mean, your home is destroyed, your loved ones are either dead or missing, you're injured, you're starving, you haven't had clean water in god knows how long, and here are these people who are supposed to help you and all they have is aspirin.
I do wish I could fly down and try to help, but I also know that I should not, even if I actually could. I would be another person in Haiti requiring food, shelter, and water. I might be helpful to help administer medical aid, but I wouldn't be able to do anything on my own. I wouldn't speak the language. I wouldn't be able to search for people in the rubble.
So I donated to Partners in Health, a Boston/Haiti based health initiative that currently has hospitals/medical center areas in Haiti and is working to help people injured in the quake. I assume that soon, they'll be treating people who have become ill from lack of food or clean water or infection from injuries. It's the least I can do, I think; my money is going towards helping someone or some people get through this impossibly devastating event.
If you CAN donate, please do. If you CAN'T, you really can't, then don't, but spread the word.