I cannot say whether the gut-wrenching catastrophe in Haiti this week has touched more deeply in France because of the two countries’ history. All eyes – from all over the globe – are on Haiti. Our hearts there, too. We are all moved, all in mourning.
I scroll through images of the injured, the dead, the trembling, the terrified, watch reporting from an entire city now in complete ruin and I can’t stop from crying. Anyone would weep, no matter where they are from.
France does have a unique link to Haiti, however, and it seems has a special responsibility due to its past. Its former colonial rule – brutal and unforgiving – should not be forgotten.
I don’t know enough about these things, certainly not as much as I should. I am experiencing this tragedy as a human being above all – not as an American or a resident in France. There are interesting things to consider there, though. The French government must understand that, too, as they have already called to cancel all of Haiti’s debt and for an international donor’s conference to discuss rebuilding.
I donated to Partners in Health (PIH) today, and found some measure of inspiration as I learned of the organization’s history. Founded 25 years ago with a mission they call both medical and moral, they have been providing health care to the poor on a consistent basis, not only when natural disasters strike. They operate the largest hospital in central Haiti and 98% of their staff comes from the local community. Paul Farmer, one of the founders, won a MacArthur genius award, and is truly an amazing person.
Please consider donating to PIH today. They are already on the ground and know how to use resources and aid effectively: http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti
Here’s a video on Partners in Health work, from before the earthquake, if you are interested. Though I feel helpless in the face of such towering suffering, I feel also the humanity and the hope when I learn of an organization like this: