Watching it all unfold on tv it is just so unreal to me. I am unable to physically place myself in the scene of the disaster, so mentally it doesn't quite hit the very core of me. It can't. I wasn't there, living through the shaking, the fear of buildings crumbling around me, the deep sadness as I passed dead bodies in every direction I looked. The disbelief that my home and my life has been stripped form me, from all of us.
But I do feel compassion and a pit of unrest deep inside of me. My eyes fill with tears at the thought of such a poor country being robbed of the little they had. Seeing the people struggling to survive, people, just like you and me, people who have to hang onto a little tiny shred of hope in order to just survive.
Yesterday in Holland was a big action calling for monetary help for Haiti. As I watched on tv I felt pride in the human race. Whatever downfalls we may all suffer through in our own lives, we still want to help, to give, to hope. The money rushed in, some people giving up their summer vacation to help those in need, others handing over a candy bar they wouldn't purchase with their lunch. It didn't matter how much or how little, people were coming together for a cause to make something right in the face of a storm...a big, disasterous storm.
I was a victim of an earthquake. When I was in my 20's living in LA, my own home collapsed during the Northridge Earthquake. Sleeping in my cozy bed feeling safe, I was suddenly thrown across the room with the glass of the window shattering at my feet, my mattress covering me in safety. My whimpering puppy lay next to me, and after the shock of it all, I went in search of my roommate. It was so dark and wherever you stepped you could feel pieces of your life crunching under your feet. We dressed with whatever we could manage to find and made our way outdoors with all the rest of the freaked out people. We still had no idea what had happened, but we knew that we were okay, we had survived, even if nothing else had.
In the coming weeks after the earthquake, living in temporary housing at a hotel paid for by FEMA, fearful of the aftershocks that kept coming, no longer being employed, no longer having a home or any belongings, I finally admitted defeat, leaving my California life behind me and returning to my family to accept their offers of help. I had survived an earthquake.
But, the death toll in my earthquake was minimal compared to the lost lives we are seeing today. I can empathize with the survivors of the earthquake on some level, but I never had to face all the deaths of my family members, friends, or common countrymen. I can't imagine, I don't want to imagine, and yet I see the pictures forcing me face to face with the devastation. It grips me, and I shudder. Yet I can't begin to imagine, can't begin to understand. Thankfully, this time I wasn't there in the midst.
This time, all I could do was make a small donation to help people in need, a country in need. And be just one face in a large crowd offering hope in the form of money, compassion in the form of silver and gold. It seems wrong, but it's all I can do. I am one of the millions who care, just one whose tiny offering has expanded to something that really can help. I pray for the dead, I pray for the survivors, and I continue to have hope. I offer them hope.
Here are a couple sites in which you can also offer hope:
American Red Cross (US): https://secure3.convio.net/arc3/site/Donation2?idb=0&df_id=1320&1320.donation=form1&s_src=RSG00100E002&s_subsrc=eopgov
Doctors Without Borders (US): https://donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/SSLPage.aspx?pid=197&hbc=1&source=ADR1001E1D01
Doctors Without Borders (Various Countries): http://doctorswithoutborders.org/donate/otheroffices.cfm
Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties (in Nederland): http://www.giro555.nl/nl-NL/default.aspx