by Dania Ramirez
On this rainy morning in Haiti I woke up feeling blessed to have shelter, a warm bed, dry clean clothes and food available to me. These luxuries as we all know are not afforded easily to the people of Haiti that I have come to know, care and advocate for. While the news media has moved on to other stories they feel are more timely, those hit by the devastation here are still in peril. I feel so incredibly sad by the sights I have witnessed, I can’t even begin to process it. I know there has been a lot of Haiti relief fund events organized in the states and worldwide with a lot of money raised for the Red Cross but the people of Haiti need so much more! On the top of the list are much needed tents for schools and shelter. And of course money is needed to direct local organizations like Hollywood Unites for Haiti in conjunction with pdaf that I believe will be most effective for right now.
It is pouring out today, and I can’t begin to explain the sense of hopelessness I feel at this very instant. Tents are not being provided by organizations whose funds are going for long term change. I met a brilliant 20 year old kid, who lost his house and family at one of the tent camps, that the people set up at a public space here. He has no shelter. That is the situation everyone is in. It made me think how right now people here are scared and resilient so they are getting by in the most positive way they know how. But, in time and with desperation, the crime rate will probably raise to an uncontrollable stage, and kids like him will inevitably have no other choice than to go down a bad path. I am afraid for them.
The government needs the public spaces back to restore schools, etc. so they stop providing the money for food for these people. It is one thing to hear this on the news and another to walk through it and not only see the devastation but to feel it- to live it. Smaller tents need to be set up for families! I think this would be good to provide and so cost effective, especially for: a 30 by 30 tent, which can be used for a school for young children here (its only $850). The children are our future and they are so resilient and strong. They’ve been through so much, lost everyone in their families, loss of body parts, etc.
Without schools for them to at least go to and feel pride and even escape to for a few hours a day, how can they have any kind of future? It can also provide locals with jobs as teachers, etc. The issues here are truly overwhelming. I have footage/ pics that would shake you to the core. There is so much to do, I know I can’t do it all, but I can try to use my connections to help as can every global citizen. If everyone donated money, no matter how large or small we would begin to help heal these wounds. I know I am not rich, but I can commit myself to take another trip out here with as little as I can raise and bring it right to people that need it. Even if I just come back with two tents that would make a difference right now, long term. I can use my voice to tell everyone reading what I believe needs to be done to change the mentality altogether and bring Haiti to a better place – even better than before the quake. I hope I can be one more set of eyes that bear witness to this catastrophe and use them to pass along what they have seen to the readers here who care and want to help. The actual long term hands on work I will leave to the government, and hope that some of the $338 million raised for the Red Cross Haiti relief get put to good and immediate use. G