14 January 2010

Haiti / Heavy Heart

The earthquake in Haiti has unsettled me in many ways, and I have a hard time articulating why. Perhaps it's that I've known, and still know, friends and co-workers from Haiti. Perhaps it's that a college friend adopted a Haitian baby not long ago. Perhaps it's that it's here in this hemisphere, not that far away from this city of mine that supports a large Haitian population. Perhaps it's remembering Tracy Kidder's New Yorker profile of Paul Farmer.

Yesterday, I made a contribution to Partners In Health - Paul Farmer's organization - the subject of an op-ed piece, by Tracy Kidder, in today's New York Times:

...There are effective aid organizations working in Haiti. At least one has not been crippled by the earthquake. Partners in Health...has been the largest health care provider in rural Haiti. It operates, in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, some 10 hospitals and clinics, all far from the capital and all still intact. As a result of this calamity, Partners in Health probably just became the largest health care provider still standing in all Haiti.

I know that there are a lot of organizations doing good work. PIH has its "boots on the ground" already - which is why I sent my donation there.

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The friend who adopted a Haitian child sent out an email last night in which she talked about her daughter's orphanage. Because I thought it was interesting, and that you might too, I've made it into a pdf which you can read here.

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And my daughter. My little philanthropic child. After school yesterday, she and her daddy watched a little of the news coverage - they talked about what had happened, what an earthquake is, where Haiti is, what the people needed. Her response? "Let's collect money and send it to them. I want to get my class to help, and all of the first grade." She rounded up three quarters and a nickel and a penny, and handed it to me: "Mommy, I want this to help."

It breaks my heart.

23 comments:

Aunt Liz said...

God, Maggie this breaks my heart; I haven't wept tears during a world crisis in a long time but am now for some reason. What a precious treasure Miranda is. My company raised $20,000 in 20 minutes today and more to come. Let me know if I can contribute to Miranda's fund.

Vodka Mom said...

we are all watching in shock and praying for these souls.

Very Mary said...

This is a great idea to get your daughter involved in the healing and helping: Pennies for People. When Katrina hit, Miss C took a plastic jar to her class and asked for pennies. Soon the other classes joined in. She'll be doing the same for those in Haiti, and we'll also be doing it at the school where I work. I love your little daughter.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Amidst all the sadness and pain it does lift my heart to see everyone responding so selflessly.

alejna said...

That is so touching. I feel choked up.

I have no direct connections to Haiti, and so feel lucky to be spared personal grief. But I have been unsettled, too. I can't get my head around a catastrophe of that magnitude, and involving a population that was already so vulnerable.

Thank you for the information on Partners in Health.

Bibliomama said...

Having children makes you feel so vulnerable no matter where you are, having your heart walk around outside your body. I can't imagine what it must be like when you live in a place where life, personal safety and the basic necessities are so scarce and fragile. I like PIH for the 'boots on the ground' aspect also. Good for your daughter.

ozma said...

I don't have so much to say but yes, exactly.

It is something that the mind can't take in, what is happening.

I keep hoping that we--myself, all of us, will remember there is a lot of less dramatic suffering in Haiti and keep responding as much as we can.

It is like you know and you don't know about the more everyday suffering of the people of Haiti and other places. I think there is a way we can be indifferent. Then, suddenly, if you are confronted by it, you cannot be indifferent.

I don't like that indifferentness in myself. But the emotions are not really the issue. What I don't like is that I am not acting when I know the situation pretty well, the daily situation.

So I guess if I had a habit to break, and a New Year's Resolution that mattered, that would be a good one. Not that this makes a difference here, in this context. I have to Doctors Without Borders and will give to Partners also. Doctors right now mainly because they are good in emergencies. And very ethical.

Partners in Health is absolutely the gold standard for a helping agency in my opinion and I do know about them and have met people who work for them. They are a platinum standard actually--an incredible, incredible group.

Florinda said...

Your daughter is quite a girl - good for her!

I put up a Red Cross donation widget created by Blogger in my sidebar, and my family will be donating to them. I'll also make a second donation of $1 for every comment I receive on today's post through this weekend.

I don't really have any connections to Haiti, but my old church was involved with a medical mission there - I keep wondering if they still are.

flutter said...

oh, my heart.

de said...

kids get it right, don't they? it's worth examining, what happens to us - is it just that our lives get too full, or that when we work for something we're more possessive of it?

Anyway, I just heard on the radio that the US response (money-wise) has been strong, but it needs to be sustained as well. Tough call for a nation with such a short attention span.

(Sorry, cynicism overload this morning.)

Kelly said...

"I want this to help." So lovely.

One of my favorite organizations is based in Haiti, and is called Hands Together. They do such good work. I watched a DVD of both their struggles and triumphs (it's essentially a priest and the workforce he has assembled there) and it simultaneously broke my heart and lifted it.

We've been waiting for news on its condition (Fr. Tom was injured, and I don't believe their website has been updated yet. I need to check again..)

It's amazing how many natural disasters seem like the world taking a dump on people who are already living in shit. Sorry to be so crude, but bitterness reigns right now.

mayberry said...

That email made me weep, every word. I gave money, and I know that's what they need most, but I still feel so frustrated at being unable to do more.

onefabulousthing said...

Thanks for this post, I hope I can instill the same empathy and desire to help in my little one.

I am also donating $1 for every comment left on this post: http://onefabulousthing.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/01-14-2010-people-get-ready/

Florinda, I'm heading over to you next!

kathy a. said...

what a lovely post about such a heartbreaking tragedy.

your girl's got her heart in the right place.

Maggie May said...

It is heartbreaking, no other word.

Sally said...

We need more people in the world like your daughter. God bless her sweet heart!

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

So precious.

Carol said...

I am also hit close to home with the Haiti quake - I spent years as a child living in Curacao, which is in the Dutch Antilles near Aruba.

Our maid was from Haiti (thankfully my mother spoke French, so they communicated that way) and she used to bring me presents whenever she went back to visit her family. Her children and everyone were back home, but she lived abroad as a maid to earn money for them...

I wonder where she and her family are now. I hope she earned enough money to get them all out before the quake hit...

slouchy said...

Thanks for this.

And Mir. Oof, my heart.

jen said...

like mother, like daughter.

and i know. oh babe. i know.

Gina said...

It's amazing how caring and sympathetic children are. My kids - like yours (and most kids I know) are so eager to help others. It's so touching. But it raises the question of what happens to us when we grow up? If adults could be as generous and kind as children are, we'd all be living in a much better world.

Woman in a Window said...

Kids, the great levelers. We're all the same, afterall. (I think the proximity of this one hits rather harder for everyone, although I tend to feel them all in the pit of my belly.)
xo
erin

anymommy said...

Your daughter's beautiful heart is inspiring. I know where she must have learned such compassion. Thank you for this post and for the link to the email. I see these emotions and prayers every where and it means the world.