Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haiti and Hope

Just my rambling again, but many of the problems brought on by the earthquake can be solved in a relative cinch if everyone had the right hearts and minds.

3 months for temporary shelter and a year for transitional shelter in Haiti is the reported plan for recovery. How quickly this would all be left to emotional trauma, jarring memories and fodder for historians if we and they all worked together, instead of thinking about the self. I mean, nothing can allay the shock of the massive death toll for the communities, but I’m talking about getting the country’s infrastructure back to what may even be a better existential basis than there was before the earthquake.

And by “thinking about the self”, I mean the people who see items in a dilapidated apartment or destroyed store and hurt other people to get it for themselves instead of sharing the items. I’m talking about the profit and non-profit organizations from every country who swarm to Haiti by the hundreds (good thing) and compete with each other to do services for Haitian residents to get their names in the media, using up time to argue amongst each other instead of helping (bad thing). I mean the government arguing amongst themselves to see who will head the rescue effort and draw up a plan, instead of collaboratively drawing up a plan and just sending whoever is equipped to whatever function to work.

A friend at my church who works in engineering told me one chilly night of the different ways companies build foundations for buildings to stand up. He told me of there being a way to put something like wheels under a building, so when in a natural disaster, the building can just roll back and forth across the land. Or, engineers can put something like a spring under the building, so that when there is an earthquake, the spring can absorb the shock and leave the building intact for the most part. These things can prevent large disasters like the one Haiti has now, but they are costly and mainly given to contracts and projects that can afford them. Anybody with a heart and 7th grade education can see that these things should be standards that go into the construction of buildings in places such as Haiti, India, the U.S. west coast, wherever.

The Haitian government, particularly Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, is saying that they need emergency short-term relief. Housing for the people, safe water to drink and wash in and food. But looters who are still in this competitive mind set, who put three things our pastor talked about last Sunday (Take, First, Do)1 as their primary motives of action, antagonize the healing process and make things worse.

Besides flying into the Dominican Republic and taking available roads into Jacmel and possibly Port-Au-Prince, what can we do about Haiti from here? We can donate money and supplies. Of course now, there is negligence in that area as well. Money/supplies can sometimes takes years to get to the designated causes. In the meanwhile, things keep decaying. And even when the money gets to wherever, it is seldom fully spent on what it's supposed to be spent on, in addition to the fact that only a part of the whole sum actually shows up. So things only get half done. Roads are relaid but not sealed. Areas of debris are just left to rot. And no one, for some reason, can account for where the other chunk of money has gone. Sending the money in text, or giving it to representatives of organizations on the street asking for it is great, but I think we should also begin to find ways to see if the cause or organization is holding itself accountable to the promised tasks (somewhere or other, I imagine someone is reminded of Obama with that last sentence).

Whenever there is a disaster, people rush to find out ways to secure their own wealth, which puts national/global/communal security at risk. But I think that, the less you think about yourself, the quicker you will be restored.

1) Just take what you want; Me first; Do something just to keep busy

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree - there's so much overkill and with no sense of direction the money just gets lost along the way, leaving those who need it still waiting

    But sadly it seems that the bigger the organisation the less the communication - people could easily communicate, but somehow make what should be simple very complicated


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