The brave people of Haiti are down, but not out

Given the inequity of life, many of us will never experience the pain, suffering and losses of Haiti’s earthquake victims.

Their nightmare has just begun.

In the moments and years ahead, Mother Nature will extract her pound of flesh from the resilient survivors, for whom life is now about death.

Tens of thousands of people are feared killed and thousands more displaced following the horrifying 7.0-magnitude shock-wave which devastated the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.

Like razors to the heart are images of demolished streets strewn with human carnage desperately deposited in front of hospitals, or respectfully swaddled in sheets and cardboard, and left for authorities to collect.

The stark pictures will resonate with the world for a long time to come: A limb with a gold wedding ring glinting on its plump hand protrudes from beneath a pile of rubble; an elderly woman weeps over the remains of her crushed home; an injured man cuddles his dead baby girl; an obliterated shantytown pockmarks the side of a cliff; a wan-eyed boy ponders his next move; a bandaged girl is treated at a makeshift medical clinic; an emotional crowd surveys the damage; the National Palace and home of the president is a toppled shell of its former grandeur.

Haiti’s destruction is seismological but Haitians, everywhere, can gain hope and comfort knowing that the human fellowship is with them in their time of need, as confirmed by the sympathetic deluge of international relief and rescue efforts underway.

The money, though, must be closely monitored once in the Caribbean nation which is no novice to corruption, and where international donors have invested billions of dollars in the past 20 years without success.

The United States — as usual — leads the Good Samaritan pack with a $100 million contribution in addition to a convoy of ships, helicopters, transport planes and more than 10,000 troops. Israel has sent equipment for an emergency field hospital, and hundreds of medical staff, soldiers and officers. Britain is assisting with a multi-person government assessment team, dozens of rescue specialists, search dogs and heavy equipment in addition to a $10 million pledge.

At press time — three whole days after the January 12 disaster — dozens of other, mostly western world, governments have rushed forward with financial, technical and physical aid, but only two Muslim nations have reached out to Haiti: Morocco and Kuwait have pledged $1 million-a-piece, the latter being the eleventh richest country in the world, and whose people this part of the world saved from the Butcher of Baghdad during the Gulf War of 1990-91.

At press time, not a cent had been recorded as being sent to Haiti’s desolate from the birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia. Nor a cent from Yemen, whom the US pledged close to $200 million in counter-terrorism aid, just weeks ago. Nor a cent from Pakistan, America’s largest beneficiary of military help. Nor a cent from the globe’s largest welfare recipient, Palestine. Nor a cent from self-absorbed Iran.

With the world’s help Haiti will recover, if she wants to, but her catastrophe demonstrates the lengths some governments will extend to — or not —for their fellow men, women and child in distress.

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