17 January 2010

World-Wide Need

It is times like these that kind of drive me crazy: an earthquake in Haiti, a tsunami in Thailand, an earthquake in China, etc. The pictures are horrifying, the loss is unimaginable, and the news coverage is non-stop. And then it starts: celebrities suddenly crawl out of the woodwork to tell you how to help. They let you know what they are doing, how much they are donating, and to whom.

Even Ravelry, a site I normally love and adore, has gotten into the act. Designers can tag their designs with special tags, and if one purchases such a tagged pattern a designated portion of the proceeds goes to a Haitian relief effort of the designer's choice. A person searching for a pattern can even filter for the special tag!

Before you keep reading, let me be as clear as I can be. I have nothing but the utmost empathy for what people most be going through in those situations. Obviously, I have not gone through a natural disaster of that magnitude. The closest I have experienced is the Missouri Floods of 1993, which was plenty for me, thankyouverymuch. And before you ask, yes, I participated a great deal in the clean-up efforts. I can only imagine what it must be like for people who have lost their entire families, for people who can't find their families, for people who have lost everything they have ever owned, and for people who now literally have nothing but the clothes on their back. Truly, it's unimaginable.

However, what disturbs me about the outpouring of "Help Haiti/China/Thailand/etc." campaigns is that there is a ridiculous amount of suffering and death on a daily basis that goes largely unnoticed by these same celebrities, media outlets, and dare I say it, Ravelry Powers That Be. For instance:
  • Approximately 8,500 people die every day of AIDS-related complications
  • Approximately 4,500 people die every day because they don't have clean drinking water
  • Approximately 2,700 people die every day of malaria
  • Approximately 33% of North Koreans are malnourished
These things happen EVERY DAY. These are problems that doctors, politicians (you know, the good ones - they DO exist; I promise!), public heath practitioners, and human rights advocates fight against EVERY DAY.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't give aid to Haitians right now. I'm not saying that they aren't deserving of prayer and compassion. Of course they are.

What I AM doing is imploring you to give aid to other, equally worthy causes every other day. They aren't as sexy, they won't make the news every day for two weeks straight, they won't have star-power backing them up; I can almost guarantee you that. That's kind of what makes the fight so special and meaningful. It's what will make you have so much passion for the cause later.

So, now that I've implored you to help, here's how you can:

My favourite HIV/AIDS sites/charities:
How to help with clean drinking water:
How to help eliminate malaria:
Information on North Korea's plight:


  1. So, what? People shouldn't be helping out now just because they don't do it all the time or for certain causes that others think are worthy enough? It really upsets me when people go above and beyond to try to do something good and naysayers trash those efforts because they're not enough and don't solve all of the world's problems. I'd also submit that unless someone has personal knowledge as to just what other people--like, say the Ravelry Powers That Be--do on a regular basis, it's out of line to post personal assumptions about them.

  2. Thing is, I wouldn't begrudge Haiti a bit of attention. I think it's a disaster on a scale beyond even the Pacific Tsunamis and the Chinese earthquake - even if as many or more people were affected by those disasters, both of those disasters happened in places where there was, at least, a state to speak of.

    It's heartbreaking precisely because it's man-made. The world has neglected Haiti - punished it for defying colonialism (wouldn't you agree that all of its present day problems could be traced back to the unjust reparations Haiti had to pay to French landowners?). The extreme poverty has amplified the suffering by a degree of magnitude.

    Honestly though, all the money in the world probably won't be enough to save Haiti from a complete collapse (and I think that is all too likely). Unlike China and Indonesia and New Orleans, Haiti might not recover.

    I get your point about not neglecting the public health crises the rest of the time. But I don't think that now is the best time to be making it. This is really big. I'm as scared for Haiti about what's to come as about what's already happened.