UPDATE 7 p.m. EST: Doctors Without Borders is on the ground providing medical help to earthquake victims in Haiti. If you’d like to donate or follow the effort, visit http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
Each one of us can really make a difference. I know firsthand as my family lost everything in 1995 when Hurricane Marilyn struck the U.S. Virgin Islands.
I awake to reports of a magnitude 7.0 quake in Haiti, leaving thousands injured or feared dead. In 2008 and 2009, deadly hurricanes, mudslides and storms ravaged the island nation now forced to cope with minimal communication and sheer devastation. More than 9 million people live in Haiti, reportedly the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation beleaguered by political and civil unrest for two centuries.
A global humanitarian response is underway http://www.redcross.org http://www.mercycorps.org/ http://www.oxfam.org/ to the densely populated capital of Port-au-Prince and affected areas. Strong aftershocks and limited access have added to the tragedy as news alerts redirect attention to hundreds in distress. Haitian musician Wyclef Jean’s grassroots organization http://www.yele.org/ allows texting a donation to relief efforts, as does the U.S. State Department http://www.state.gov/
Others are turning to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook as modes of reaching out and expressing support. Beyond the obvious rush to aid, I question how little most know about the independent island, its people or the Caribbean. I wonder how many recognize the names, Toussaint L’ouverture or Edwidge Danticat, without checking Google; or contemplate the complexities of the Duvalier-era and Tontons Macoute militia as it relates to Haiti’s current state of affairs http://www.haiti.org/
Though I’m no longer affiliated with a major news organization, I am still a journalist who wants to help in any way that I can. Here are a few links to educate http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34831414/ns/world_news-americas/
and encourage http://www.radiosoleil.com
“Their Maker, she said, gives them the sky to carry because they are strong. These people do not know who they are, but if you see a lot of trouble in your life, it is because you were chosen to carry part of the sky on your head.” _ Author Edwidge Danticat