After the island was hit by four successive and powerful storms (Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike), several humanitarian organisations – including the United Nations, World Food Programme, World Health Organization, Red Cross, Pan-American Health Organization, Oxfam and others – have launched an appeal for funding to support relief efforts in Haiti.
Aid workers and peacekeepers have been working under extremely adverse conditions in an effort rush food, clothes and fresh water to nearly 800,000 people left destitute by the quadruple blow this hurricane season.
Among corporate donors in the Caribbean have been telecom providers, Digicel and Cable & Wireless. American celebrities have also been getting in the act. Oscar-winning actor Matt Damon accompanied Haitian-born, Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean in raising awareness and helping on the ground with the relief effort.
Looking down on the devastation from helicopter, Damon said, “I’m speechless. I can’t believe it.” Perhaps more seasoned to Haiti’s struggles, Jean added: “It’s inhumane. I wish there was a word in the dictionary. No human should be living like this.” In addition to promoting fundraising efforts for the UN, Jean’s Charity Yele Haiti is also running a fundraising drive.
The Haitian-American entertainment fraternity have also been lending a hand. This Sunday 21 September, the New York Haitian Music Industry will be hosting the Haiti SOS Benefit Concert at Amazura (91-12 144th Place, Jamaica, New York) from 3pm. All proceeds will go to UNICEF. Non-perishable food items, clothing, hygeine products and other items will be collected at the door.
I can’t help but think of David Rudder’s words some 20 years on: “Haiti, I’m sorry.” But sorry doesn’t quite cut it at the moment. The challenge of Haiti – as well as neighbouring Dominican Republic, Cuba and beyond – in the wake of these storms is stupefying. It must prompt us, without hesitation, to make a contribution of time, funding, or any means available to us to give aid. If nothing else, the shoe could be on the other foot at any time.