In the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti last Tuesday, killing between 50,000 and 200,000, many countries around the world--including small nations--have offered assistance disproportionate to their size in the form of search and rescue, food and water, and financial contributions.
The United States is doing a great deal; President Obama has pledged 100 million in U.S. support. But some of the outstanding contributions, per capita, have come from smaller countries. The island nation of Mauritius, for instance, has committed $500,000; Morocco $1,000,000 and Norway $866,551.
While many countries, companies, and celebrities have made extravagant pledges, it remains to be seen who will live up to their promises. While such generosity will no doubt be vital in the months ahead, undeniably precious has been the already-materialized support--including that of tiny countries--who were on the scene within a day of the catastrophe.
Last Wednesday, in the earthquake's immediate aftermath, the Icelandic search and rescue team, known as the Icelandic SAR team, had already begun preparations for transporting 10 tons o f rescue equipment, 3 t o n s o f w a t e r , t e n t s, and equipment for telecommunications and cleaning water. On Thursday, the Icelanders saved three women from the ruins of a four-story building at the Caribbean Market in Port au Prince. They also worked to find survivors in the rubble of the Montana hotel in Port au Prince where the UN staff and their families were staying, and in the town of Leogane, located at the epicenter of the quake, where 80 to 90 percent of the buildings had been destroyed.
The Reykjavik City Council has also unanimously voted to donate to Haiti ISK 100 per inhabitant of Reykjavik, which is the capital of Iceland- amounting to 12 million Kronur, or $ 95,000 in U.S. dollars. There 120,000 people in Reykjavik, so the gift is roughly 80 cents per resident of Iceland.
Nor is Iceland the only small country with a big heart. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) arrived on the scene January 15, Friday, and immediately set up a field hospital. It includes 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children's ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward.
The Israel Defense Forces reported Thursday that 455 survivors of last week's earthquake in Haiti have been treated at the IDF field hospital, and 152 operations have been successfully performed. Additionally, Columbian doctors have teamed with Israel's to perform medical procedures there.
On Sunday night, a resident of Port-au-Prince gave birth to a boy at the Israeli field hospital. In honor of the country that helped her, his mother decided to name the baby "Israel."
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