Our troubles fade in comparison to Haiti disaster

It is sick to think that during a time of such tragedy that people would even dream of setting up bogus collections in the name of the devastated people of Haiti.

Their lives have been turned upside down, their country devastated, their few worldly goods gone, their fate dependant on the generosity of the rest of the world.

Yet in parts of Ireland people have set up bogus charity appeals under the guise of the Irish Red Cross, a despicable act which undermines the excellent work carried out by the Red Cross and other charities for the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.

What happened in Haiti puts our own worries into perspective. There are 200,000 estimated dead and a further 1.5 million homeless after the January 12 earthquake which measured 7.3 on the Richter scale.

But it’s heartening to see how the world has responded. Take our small county of Mayo alone: schools, businesses, and organisations have all joined in the fundraising efforts to bring aid to ravaged Haiti. And thankfully there have been no reports of underhanded collections in this part of the country.

The way the world responds when a tiny country is devastated by a natural disaster of this enormity shows how we can rise above our own daily struggles.

Funds already collected in this country by the leading charities are going towards providing emergency medical care, clean water, blankets, plastic sheeting, food, and humanitarian assistance to those who need it most.

It’s easy to be a proud Mayo person when you know the county is being represented in Haiti by a dedicated aid worker, Gena Heraty from Westport. Her friends, family, and followers were able to breath a deep sigh of relief once they knew Gena was safe and hard at work in the country she has adopted.

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild Haiti. Haiti's president appealed to donors to focus not just on immediate aid for Haitians, but also on long-term development.

And amid this awful disaster small miracles keep happening. Only Wednesday a young brother and sister were found alive, buried in the rubble, eight days after the devastating earthquake hit. Approximately 100 people have been pulled out alive since search and rescue teams began combing the debris.

Medical teams are overwhelmed by the casualties and warned of the immediate threats of tetanus and gangrene, as well as the spread of measles, meningitis, and other infections.

No one has begun to estimate the number of injuries from the quake.

Dualta Roughneen from Kiltimagh, working for the overseas children’s charity Plan Ireland, has been in touch with colleagues who are on the ground in Haiti. “Priorities are to provide medical assistance, water, sanitation, and food aid to the many people who have survived the quake. We are also looking to ensure the protection of children, who in times of emergency are usually the most vulnerable, whether in dealing with trauma, suffering the loss of parents, siblings, or friends, or being at risk of trafficking and exploitation,” he explained.

In Haiti one in five children suffers stunted growth due to poor nutrition, so they are particularly vulnerable. It puts life in perspective.

But where to for the Haitians now? They must begin again developing their economy, agriculture, education, and health services. They must not be forgotten. There is an onus on every country to honour their promises. Let’s all be part of this process by making a donation. Give to a local fundraising event or contact a charity of your choice to make a donation. The measure of us as people is how we look after those who are less fortunate.


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