Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti

Jacob Lawrence, Toussaint L'Ouverture


Haiti needs help desperately.
The earthquake last Tuesday was an epic catastrophe that may have taken 200,000 lives.

Haiti was the first African Republic. Haiti was created by a successful slave rebellion in 1791. Toussaint L'Ouverture ("Toussaint, the Opener" as he was known because of his ability to open up passages in French military lines) led a long campaign for Haitian independence and to end slavery. He was born into slavery in what is now Benin. Toussaint owned slaves at one time as a successful planter. He led the African population in a rebellion against French rule and slavery. It ended when Napoleon's forces invaded Haiti and re-imposed slavery. Toussaint died in captivity.
The rest of the world treated Haiti with either domination or neglect. The country was poor, and since poverty breeds corruption, Haiti long suffered from corrupt tyrannical leadership. Despite this later history, Haiti has a large and thriving professional class in the USA and in Haiti. Haitians are proud of their history, and deeply loyal to their country.

Some people are using "voodoo" and a purported "contract with the devil" as an excuse for continuing Haiti's neglect even in the face of catastrophe. Vodoun is the New World survival of the ancient religion of the Yoruba people through the Middle Passage of the slave trade. It is a religion of ancestors and nature spirits. It is not, and never was, about "devil worship" or "black magic." It is a survival of old Africa through the catastrophe of slavery.

And now, nature in its cruel indifference, strikes Haiti a terrible blow.

It's time to show solidarity with our Haitian neighbors.

I know it's late, but Haiti will need help for a long time. If you want to help out, then here are some places where you can go:

You can contact the American Red Cross.

You can donate to UNICEF for aid to children.


Action Against Hunger has long been involved in Haiti.

Mercy Corps is an NGO that specializes in emergency disaster relief and is deployed in Haiti.

--Hat tip to Digby (there are more aid agencies on her site)

For those who wish to donate through the Episcopal Church...

The Episcopal Sisters of Saint Margaret are there in Haiti and are doing what they can to help out their neighbors despite their own losses and suffering.

UPDATE:

If you want to help Haiti, and other developing nations over the long term, there is debt relief.
Contact Jubilee USA for how you can help.
Thanks Toujoursdan.

2 comments:

toujoursdan said...

Also, if you're in the USA please lobby your Congressperson to pass the Jubilee Act, which forgives the debt of 65 of the world's poorest nations once they reach an acceptable level of financial accountability and human rights.

Jubilee USA: Ask Your Representative to Co-Sponsor the Jubilee Act Today

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Amen to this!