Quake donation eased sense of guilt

I am fixated on the earthquake disaster in Haiti. Watching the stories pour across my computer and the news channels on TV hour after hour, I can’t even begin to comprehend the level of devastation and loss of life.
New numbers are posted regularly on the loss of life and the number of Canadians still unaccounted for in that country.
As I sit in my easy chair, I feel a sense of guilt. As a Canadian, we are secure with a strong, stable government and civil service, good health care, quality education, and great infrastructure.
Even in disaster, we have the ability to assist each other.
None of that exists in Haiti and that has led to making this crisis even greater.
I want to salute all those volunteers and rescuers who have been sent by their own countries to that island that has led such a tragic existence. Poor government, corruption, and hurricanes have wrecked the nation.
Now the earthquake has reinforced how tragically poor this nation is.
The world is learning that, with all the technology available, we can witness firsthand the tragedies, the deaths, and the desperation from the comfort of our living room.
Meanwhile, “Doctors Without Borders,” using civil war tools, are working around the clock to save lives. Not a comforting thought for the hundreds having amputations.
Without anesthetics, in makeshift surgeries, limbs are being amputated.
Bodies are being collected, not individually in body bags but by the bucket loads of front-end loaders, and then are being dropped in mass graves. Families will never know where their relatives are buried.
Even the ability to get to Port-au-Prince has been reduced. The single runway is now jammed while the highways leading into the city are all but impassable. The wharves have been damaged so ships cannot even land with supplies.
Power stations have stopped producing electricity.
Since the coups of the 1990s, Canada’s police forces have been working to train Haitian police and help create a stable, non-corrupt police force. The United Nations has been overseeing the training and development of an improved civil service.
All those efforts disappeared in a few minutes. The government and its civil service vanished.
Canada has responded by sending ships, aircraft, supplies, and 2,000 military personnel. Canadians have responded by digging into their wallets and raising funds that are being matched by the federal government.
I made a donation.
A study led by Dr. Jorge Moll, of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, found that when a person was encouraged to give money to a charity, parts of the brain lit up that normally are associated with selfish pleasure like eating.
The donation helped ease some of my guilt for feeling so fortunate—just as district communities responded to Family and Children’s Services plea for assistance for Pikangikum First Nation and we all felt better.
As a community, we can respond to Haiti. We might even think about opening our doors to families from Haiti as we once did for people from Vietnam.
This week’s crisis in Haiti will be followed by another crisis somewhere else in the world, and our attention will be diverted.

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