Kristi McCracken, December 31, 2010
The monthly focus for Earth Healing Day in January is Haiti. The anniversary of the devastating earthquake there a year ago reveals some bleak facts. The quake claimed over 250,000 lives and nearly as many homes. Over one and one half million people still live in the camps. Approximately 1300 spontaneous temporary settlements sprung up using bed sheets and towels as shelter from the elements. Many still remain, but new tarp coverings don’t do much to improve their permanence.
Last January's earthquake also decimated their health care system. When 60% of hospitals in the affected region were damaged or destroyed, medical care for the 300,000 who were injured was difficult at best. In October, a cholera epidemic spread quickly when rains washed remnants of the unsanitary living conditions into the drinking water contaminating it.
Simple life saving measures such as prompt administrations of fluids can reverse the dehydration. Aid groups rushed in thousands of cases of medical supplies and water purification tablets, but lack of infrastructure hampered distribution efforts. As the year ended, the victims of the cholera epidemic numbered over 2700.
Securing adequate food and safe drinking water remains an issue. With 80 % of the Port-au-Prince schools destroyed or damaged, the children were no longer able to attend. Hungry and homeless victims of the quake still live in squalled conditions with little to no privacy.
Violence toward women has become acute with a three fold increase in reported rapes in the camps and lack of prosecution when rape victims do come forward. Reducing these occurrences will require increased security in the camps, more officers to investigate reported rapes, and courts that will convict rather than release the rapists. These dire conditions call us to pray for the restoration of dignity and comfort to the victims.
Political unrest due to the corrupt government also needs attention. Protesters in the streets claimed that election results were tampered. Peace and ethical leadership are needed in the region. Port-au-Prince will require continued support in order to rebuild.
It can be challenging to remain attuned to ongoing disasters. But those of us fortunate enough to live in ease are called to do just that. Don’t let “compassion fatigue” in. Set aside the tendency to slip into overwhelm and complacency. Rise to be your best self. Get informed and get involved.
Give the gift of your focused efforts this month. Click here to listen to a guided meditation to assist you in making a compassionate connection with Haiti. Compassion is a powerful force on this planet.
Set aside one hour on January 23rd (from 12 noon to 1:00 PM) to send your loving thoughts, prayers and goodwill to Haiti and all who live and work to heal the suffering there. Combined with the efforts of thousands of others around the planet your prayers will have a powerful impact. Thank you for all you do.
Kristi McCracken is a journalist in the Central Valley of California.
Please note: We’re halfway to our second annual Earth Healing Day - Save the Date… Monday, August 15, 2011. Your monthly efforts help build the field for creating a global “OM Heard Round the World.”