When disaster strikes and millions of people are left without homes or loved ones, it seems as though American sympathy only extends to other western bastions of democracy.
Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti and once again, Americans must ask themselves if they care about the destruction and death occurring in another country just as they had to with the Haiti earthquake of 2010.
Around 220,000 to 316,000 were estimated dead after Haiti’s earthquake. The U.S. Government committed $3.1 billion to Haiti in aid but it seems as soon as the media, and consequently the American people, no longer cared about the disaster in Haiti, relief trickled to a stop also.
Two years after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, half a million people remained in tents that were severely deteriorating. While Haitian citizens were wondering where the next meal would come from or if their tent would last long enough for them to find somewhere new to live, we went back to being consumed by our “busy” lives.
Since the earthquake in 2010, countless disasters have struck countries around the world, yet people can only recall a few. Our memories of disasters in other countries are limited to what was trending on social media.
Even if a disaster is not a big deal on social media, it does not mean that it is not happening. You should not care about the lives of others just because it is trendy and our support should not be limited to countries that look like us.
Disaster can strike anywhere, and just because it is not happening to you, does not make it any less horrific. Casualties are casualties—regardless of where the bodies lie.
Hurricane Matthew has displaced and killed too many Haitians for us not to care. Haitians are understandably upset about delays in aid and new information about the aid offered in 2010.
Not only are Haitians dealing with the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew, they are now suffering from a cholera outbreak that has claimed 10,000 lives since 2010.
Cholera arrived in the helpful arms of United Nation peacekeepers who introduced the island to the disease when they leaked waste into a river near a base. The peacekeepers came to provide aid after the damaging earthquake of 2010, yet they seemed to make matters worse.
Hurricane Matthew has aggravated the cholera epidemic since it is a water-borne disease and there is not enough aid to help repair destroyed cities and take care of patients on the brink of death.
Haiti is not trending on Facebook and more people should be tweeting “#PrayforHaiti.” We need to care about the lives of people in other countries, and when we do, we need to ensure that we are not causing more harm than good.
Pray for Haiti, pray for America and pray for the well-being of the world because you really believe in help, not because it will be a cute hashtag.