Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Help/Aid to Haiti- Suggestions and Pitfalls

So- I totally have NOT been keeping up my New Years Resolution of blogging on a consistent basis... but I am working on it, I promise!! I have, however, been keeping up with the news. When you fancy yourself a "blogger" news becomes like second nature. It really is almost like having your morning coffee- which, if you know me, you know I cannot do without. I watch the news in the morning; I read the news online throughout the day; I watch the news at night... maybe I am in overload, but I like it!

My news overload has gone into overdrive lately. Every channel I watch has an opening story of the devastation that has taken over Haiti after the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people. It is mesmerizing and it makes me sad. To see all the faces full of anguish and uncertainty. To hear of all the families that have lost husbands, wives, children. To see the huge outpouring of emotion and money from all over the world... nothing less than amazing. I will venture out and say that the world response has given me a new respect for humankind. It is nice to see that neighboring countries care. It is nice to think that we may all be a part of a world... not just our own little worlds (I never really leave my pretend world where everything is about me- and I invite all of you to enter the world where it is all about me...through this blog), but something giant and slightly all encompassing. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to put your own "problems" in perspective.

There has been a lot written about the pitfalls of American aid specifically, in the wake of this natural disaster. When you do something, people always want you to do more (or less), and no matter what there are always opinions about what you should be doing, why you are helping, what you did, how horrible you are, etc. One article in particular was written by Bill Quigley and posted on Democracy Now! His article is entitled "Ten Things the U.S. Can and Should Do For Haiti" and of course I take issue with a few of his points.... would it be any fun if I just agreed? :)

Most of his ten points make sense to me- treating people humanely and asking to be in the loop as to how much money is raised, where that money goes and the percentage that is actually going towards the cause... that makes sense. Below are the points that I will argue with (surprised? nah- didn't think so!)

** "One. Allow all Haitians in the US to work. The number one source of money for poor people in Haiti is the money sent from family and workers in the US back home. Haitians will continue to help themselves if given a chance. Haitians in the US will continue to help when the world community moves on to other problems." Um, no. Sorry Mr. Quigley. As an underemployed college graduate, I HAVE to disagree with you. Unemployment has skyrocketed in America over the last two and a half years. I have ex-classmates who are losing their homes, or moving in with their parents so they can make ends meet. I have been told (several times) that I am overqualified for jobs. States (including the one I live in) are on the brink of bankruptcy and having to come up with funds for thousands of newly unemployed workers. We, as a country, are not on track and one reason for that is we give jobs away. We routinely look the other way as jobs are outsourced and exported and I am not willing to advocate for thousands of non US citizens taking jobs off the market, when tons of tax payers are not getting a regular paycheck. So we will put this in the disagree pile.

**"Three. Give Haiti grants as help, not loans. Haiti does not need any more debt. Make sure that the relief given helps Haiti rebuild its public sector so the country can provide its own citizens with basic public services." Um, again... no. Guess who else does not need anymore debt? Ding, ding, ding- you are correct if you said the United States of America!!

**"Five. President Obama can enact Temporary Protected Status for Haitians with the stroke of a pen. Do it. The US has already done it for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sudan and Somalia." And he has done it in this case also. According to The Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Naplitano, 'Any Haitian in the US prior to the earthquake will be allowed to stay for 18 months to work. Any Haitians attempting travel to the US will be sent back to Haiti.'

**"Six. Respect Human Rights from Day One. The UN has enacted Guiding Principles for Internally Displaced People. Make them required reading for every official and non-governmental person and organization. Non governmental organizations like charities and international aid groups are extremely powerful in Haiti – they too must respect the human dignity and human rights of all people." Agree- but realize that the United States is not the only country that is helping out. This needs to be followed by everyone... even Haitians- specifically those in control.

**"Seven. Apologize to the Haitian people everywhere for Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh." I laughed when I read this. Out.Loud. If you regularly read this blog, you KNOW that I am not a fan of extremists- unless they are extreme fans of mine- and I do think the two men mentioned are ignorant morons, BUT here in the United States of America we have a lovely thing called Freedom of Speech. Even though I would like to choke Rush and Pat, they have a fan base and they have the right to say whatever they want- within the confines of the law. I am just hoping that the stupidity that came out of their mouths will let their "fans" see who they really are. But it may not be wise to attack very established American rights while American citizens are emptying their pockets to give money to Haiti. Plus, America as a whole should not apologize for Rush and Pat.... they should show some human emotions and do it themselves, prime time, Fox News, to be replayed over and over and over and over again...

You can check out the whole article here. Please do not read anything into this entry. I believe that we all should help Haiti- so don't start emailing me telling me I am a heartless bitch. I just think that the US cannot be the only country making sacrifices, especially since we are struggling. My thoughts and prayers go out to Haiti. I hope that recovery is swift, memories of this horrible time are short and their pride in Haiti is forever. God bless the Haitians, the relief workers, those sending financial help... and God Bless the United States of America. (See, I am sounding Presidential ALREADY- watch out world!) :)


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