Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More on Haiti

Most of the day I work through large stack of books, journal articles, practice problems, and tidy my power point slides for lectures. The earthquake in Port-Au-Prince did not reach my awareness until my fantastic news-junkie friend reported the story at Bible Study later that Wednesday night. Our collective response was in prayer for Haiti ---I do not know each person's individual response. However, throughout the Florida State University campus there were visible signs that Haiti was on our student's minds. There was a troubador strumming out Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" outside the union with an open guitar case and an 8.5x11 piece of paper posted to the inside stating the cause. In front of Strozier library a young girl was collecting donations in a plastic jug and passing out information about the various donation texting campaigns to make contributions easier (Red Cross received $18 Million in donations via text!). The outpouring was enormous. But, in the wake of the disaster there are the simple problems Mark reported in the last post: coordination between the many agencies and allocation of correct resources (for example, only 40% of the drugs given during the Tsunami Relief effort in Indonesia were drugs needed by the people we were trying to help).

Here is an article by Laura Freschi at NYU titled, "Getting Humanitarian Relief Right" about what we can glean from previous natural disasters. More than anything I hope that the devastation that came from the earthquake creates a fluid situation in which major informal reforms of the heart and formal reforms of governance and policy flourish. Along these lines is a quote I read from my friend Brandon Vogt's blog (The Thin Veil):

"Hopefully this tragedy will bring about a new national unity among the Haitian people who have been long divided over class and or political lines. And for us in the United States, let me say that geography has made the U.S. and Haiti neighbors; now is the time that we show that we also are truly brothers and sisters." -Bishop Thomas Wenski

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