Thursday, January 14, 2010

When The Rain Falls, It Don't Fall on One Man's House Top

Thank you, New York Times, for snapping a lot of us back to reality with the constant stream of graphic, horrific, unbelievable photos of what is going on in Haiti. How can you look at a picture of a man sitting with his head in his hands in front of the dead body of his ten month old daughter and not feel instant, penetrating grief?

The older I get, the more these things resonate with me.

Maddie is still having a problem going to bed at night in her crib, and it is creating sleeping havoc for Nicole and me. I don’t feel like leftover pizza for lunch. These are not problems in life. I am in the middle of a minor emotional upheaval right now (life related, not Haiti related), but it all seems so petty. Instead, I need to focus on the fact that I am sandwiched between Madeline and Avery right now. Maddie’s leg is thrown casually over mine and Avery is leaning her head on my shoulder. This is what life is all about. We are healthy (knock on wood) and have a home and a fridge filled with food and all the water we need. I think we tend to forget that if you have those basic things than you are luckier than something like one-quarter of the earth’s population.

Others abject grief remind me how lucky I am. This in itself is such a first-world privilege paradigm. Why can’t I just feel grateful all the time? Do I really need to see bruised and bloody people who have just lost everything to make me pause and think, “Wow. We are so lucky.”

In my own defense, I should add that these past few years there has been a sort of shift in me and I look at life in a different way. Again, I chalk this up to getting older, getting settled and getting wiser. But, whatever it stems from, I appreciate things more. I respect things more. I know how good I have it, and everyone in my life too. We are all so,so lucky.

This is what I want to do: I wish we could sponsor a family. One particular family. And send that family food and shoes and clothes and toys and things they need. Hold our own fundraisers to raise money for whatever heath care they need. Help them get the basics until the bigger charities help with the bigger issues (housing, infrastructure, health care, etc.) . Helping a family just seems so much more personal than writing a check. Alas, I am not sure such an organization exists. And I don’t know any Haitian families.

In the meantime: I want every airline to fly at least one plane a day of relief workers and volunteers over to Haiti for free. I want Fed Ex and UPS and all the shipping companies to send one plane of supplies over to Haiti every day for free. I want every major diaper company and formula company to send over at least 250K worth of free goods. I want every major food company to send over at least 100K of food. I want every clothing manufacturer to send clothes. Every shoe manufacturer. You get my drift. Maybe some of those athletes who make $30 million a year could step up to the plate (no pun intended).

Even being in this shitty mood seems indulgent.


K J and the kids said...

We were JUST talking about this.
Do you KNOW how hard it is to volunteer time. Do you know that you canNOT feed the homeless on Thanksgiving or Christmas here. It's already taken care of and you can't sign up.
Did you know that if you want to rock a drug baby at the children's hospital you have to give them blood, urine and sign over the rights to your house and children. Interview and take some test. THEN once you make it this far and your background check clears national security you go on a waiting list with all of the other do-gooders. Chances aren't good that you'll ever be able to help. Nice right.
There are SOOO many people with GREAT ideas. like yours. that want to help. give back. It takes a group though. A group with a leader who has ideas. You my friend MAY have just found your calling in life. Do it. Put it together. organize it. You can make a difference. and I'll help.

After Words said...

Well, here's one family, but perhaps this is not exactly what you mean:

My friend E. is adopting a little girl from Haiti, J. J. is fine and the orphanage where she lives is still standing, but that's about all we know. She was close to coming home--E. was just waiting on the passport and visa--but now who knows? If you want to give to E.'s adoption agency, it is

Hope said...

Volunteering can be difficult & expensive- but incredibly rewarding. I went on my first medical mission to Peru last year, and you have pay for everything yourself... the airfare, the housing, the vaccines (which are not covered by insurance), a participation fee, collecting donations & supplies... it adds up. It was an incredible experience, and I plan to go back this September.

The group I went with sent me an email to see if I could go with them to Haiti, and part of me wants to just throw it all on my credit card & go... and then reality comes in. Close to $600 in airfare, I need anti-malarial drugs, other vaccines, what ever supplies I can stuff in my bags, and then there is the fact that I'm not a trauma nurse!

Instead I will send money to the group I went with, and that will hopefully enable an EMT or a doctor or nurse with the right experience go.

Kerry Lynn said...

A friend of mine spent time in Haiti a little over a year ago. She knows people personally there. If you want her info to see if there is anything you can do I'd be glad to give it to you.