The Haiti Earthquake

As many of you know there has been a devastating earthquake in Haiti and it has led to a high death toll and horrific suffering among the people there.

I just read the following from the NY times site. It is written by Pooja Bhatia who is in Haiti at this time. She is a fellow at the Institute of Current World Affairs. Pooja Bhatia writes in part:

“This earthquake will make the devastating storms of 2008 look like child’s play. Entire neighborhoods have vanished. The night of the earthquake, my boyfriend, who works for the American Red Cross, and I tended to hundreds of Haitians who lived in shoddily built hillside slums. The injuries we saw were too grave for the few bottles of antiseptic, gauze and waterproof tape we had: skulls shattered, bones and tendons protruding from skin, chunks of bodies missing. Some will die in the coming days, but for the most part they are the lucky ones.”

“No one knows where to go with their injured and dead, or where to find food and water. Relief is nowhere in sight. The hospitals that are still standing are turning away the injured. The headquarters of the United Nations peacekeeping force, which has provided the entirety of the country’s logistical support, has collapsed. Cell and satellite phones don’t work. Cars can’t get through many streets, which are blocked by fallen houses. Policemen seem to have made themselves scarce.”

“If this were a serious country, there would be relief workers here, finding the children buried underneath that house,” my friend Florence told me. Florence is a paraplegic who often sits outside her house in the Bois Verna neighborhood. The house next to hers had collapsed, and Florence said that for a time she heard the children inside crying.”

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/14/opinion/14bhatia.html

As the full scope of the tragedy became clear, social networking sites have become active in raising awareness of what is going on in Haiti as well as generating donations.

The Canadian Press reported that Internet has been a key to communicating with people from Haiti but the access is limited.

“Twitter and Facebook users encouraged each other to donate to the relief efforts and the U.S. Red Cross quickly collected US$800,000 after a text message campaign went viral.”

“Doctors Without Borders was helped by Twitter in recruiting volunteers, said Paul McPhun, a member of the organization’s emergency management team.”

“Everybody wants to get involved, everybody’s willing to put their time into this emergency response. And so we’re trying to match the profiles of the people with the best experience, the people with the French language skills. That’s moving very rapidly.”

Source: http://tech.ca.msn.com/canadianpress-article.aspx?cp-documentid=23245939

Several agencies are cautioning people to watch out for scams masquerading as asking for donations.

“Give to organizations you’ve heard of. Beware of scams right now. Stay on the beaten path. But for God’s sake, GIVE!,” reads a tweet from the account of Fireside International, a non-profit that works to connect the poor with technology.”

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