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Bessie A. Winn-Afeku Headshot

Haiti Quake: A Cry for Help

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I can honestly say that I have seen more devastation in one week than I have seen in my entire life. On Tuesday January 12, 2010 the worst earthquake in nearly 200 years struck the tiny island of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. With an unofficial death toll estimated at 140,000 and 3 million affected, that's over one third of the Haitian population.

I don't think words will ever be able to express the range of emotions the people impacted by this earthquake are experiencing day to day. Imagine one moment you are overcome with joy because you have just been rescued after being trapped under rubble only to find out that you have now lost a limb and need medical attention or you have even lost a love one, however nearly every hospital has been destroyed. Not only will the people of Haiti have to recover from physical wounds, but psychologically as well. This will be a life time effort.

How does one live a normal life after watching people die from being crushed by their own homes? How does one live a normal life after watching thousands upon thousands of dead bodies being dumped into mass graves? Just how does one function after hearing the cries of injured and hungry orphaned children seeking the comfort of their mothers? As I watch clips and images of the many stories, in between each image or scene, I experience several short moments of a pregnant pause. A short pause filled with despair, compassion, sadness, and anger.

Women and children are the most vulnerable in the wake of the catastrophe, and almost half of the population in Haiti is comprised of children. The children have gone through so much. A child of 10 in Haiti has already seen several natural disasters in their short life time. Before this earthquake, Haiti was known as a nation of orphans, and now there will be many more to add the previous total. My husband and I would like to be in Haiti right now to help wherever we are needed but instead we have chosen to donate the money that we would have spent on plane tickets to Care.org. This organization is one of the largest private humanitarian organizations committed to helping families in poor communities. Care.org also recognizes that women and children are the most vulnerable in natural disasters.

We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources.


It's no secret that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and that corruption runs deeply among government officials and some local businesses. The people of Haiti are like children to parents who are addicts and have lost all passion and concern to care for their children, in this case the government is the parent. I believe Haiti will rise and so will her children, in the mean time my heart aches for this country. My heart aches as I watch and hear the cries of men, women, and children pleading and begging for help, or just simply...a ladder to free someone from a hole. My prayer for the people of Haiti is simply restoration and sustainability.


Don't just watch and feel something....Do something. "We can't live in this world without giving a damn about this world."

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