Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hungry and Scared.......

.......the Indy has this story about 9 year old Haitian Wideline - when asked about how she felt, living in squalor in an orphanage, having lost her parents, her only possession the tartan dress on her back - she said - hungry and scared.

One of the frighteningly numbing effects of disaster is that we can lose sight of the human impact - the 70,000 - 200,000 - 1,000.000 lives lost are all nameless, faceless, remote, other. Coming face to face with the countless survivors, like Wideline, reminds of the humanity of all. If we feel powerless in the face of injustice, inequality and poverty in our own land, how much more when we hear of the unbearable tragedy unfolding on the other side of the globe...........

I have never been to Haiti - my connection has only been through Haitians who have emigrated here and friends who have visited - one friend narrowly surviving a gun attack in what was an unbelievably lawless society. A society where even near neighbours like America, have chosen to draw the curtains and turn their heads to avoid having to address the reality of a society in melt down.

If Haiti teaches us anything it surely has to be the awesome truth of the words of John Donne - that no - no man is an island.

Whilst we could do nothing about the earthquake - we could have done something about the poverty, we could have invested in the infra structure of the country that would have mitigated against the worst effects of this disaster. We could have surely done more to support the development of a healthy and effective society. We have a graphic demonstration of what happens when we walk by on the other side.

I have never ever before heard of a similar disaster, be that natural or man made, which has resulted in that unbelievable number of so many orphaned children. Be that Tsunami, Earthquake, Typhoon, Hurricane. These children who will determine whether Haiti rises from the ashes of this tragedy - or slips off our radar again and into a malaise of hopelessness and despair.

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