Thursday, January 14, 2010

And It Seems So Cruel

With images of total catastrophe and devastation riding the airwaves, its hard to concentrate on trivial things like the habits of birdwatchers....don't get me wrong, I prefer the company of birds to most people, but it's kind of hard to joke about today.

Of course I'm talking about Haiti, largely regarded as one of the worst places in the world. Most of its residents live on less than a dollar a day. To say that its people live in poverty is an understatement. It has been in a violent, war-torn state for over 30 years now, although 2009 wasn't a bad year in comparison. It is a place already prone to environmental disasters due to deforestation. The New York Times put together a good synopsis of it, which can be viewed here.

When the January 12 earthquake hit, most of the capital city was brought to the ground (with almost no government oversight, there are not exactly strict building codes in place). The current deathtoll is thought to be somewhere around 50,000 people. 150 U.N. workers are still thought to be trapped under the rubble. For obvious reasons, the situation there is dire.

For those intent on praying for the victims, I would venture to say that it doesn't hurt, but realistically it accomplishes nothing...its not like God thought, "Hmm, I think today I am going to send tens of thousands of people to a terrible death" and then change his mind about the whole thing.

What you can do is make a donation to relief groups who are already on the ground. A quick, easy way to make a small donation ($10) is to text "Haiti" to 90999. This goes to directly to Red Cross (all of it), and there are no associated fees. This charge will show up on your next phone bill. They will send a confirmation message back to you, and you just have to say "YES" and its all taken care of. Simple!

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