Remember Haiti?

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  • We live in such a fast-paced world, it’s hard to get people to think about anything that happened yesterday, let alone seven months ago. Since the horrific earthquake took place in Haiti in January, a lot has happened internationally, nationally, locally and in our own personal lives. Before we left for vacation, I got a sad phone call from the doctor who runs Medishare, the only hospital in Port Au Prince, and it’s in big trouble.

    You’ve heard us talk about it. In fact, it’s where we volunteered last spring when we went to Haiti. Then it was a bustling hospital that reminded you of a scene from the TV show “M*A*S*H.” There were 300 beds, each occupied by a man, woman or child who was sick or injured or both. Medishare didn’t just show up to aid the victims of the hurricane. It’s been doing good in Haiti for the last 20 years, and only stepped it up when the disastrous earthquake struck.

    When the world saw the work it was doing, the promises of money, food and supplies poured in. In fact, when we were there, we witnessed what happens when people react to a crisis without fully understanding the needs of those they intend to help. We saw boxes and boxes of supplies, much of it unneeded, some of it unusable.

    What Haiti needed then – and even more desperately needs now – is money, money from the world, money from the U.S. government, money from you and money from me.

    Medishare now only has 50 beds and is being forced to turn people away.

    In order for the hospital to remain open at all, it needs millions, and I know for most of that’s a scary figure. There are some problems so horrific that it’s difficult for our minds to even process them. It’s easier for us not to think about them at all because we can’t imagine how we could make a difference. So, I don’t even want us to look at that huge number. Let’s think about what we can process. What amount can you bear to realistically part with?

    As African-Americans, we’re behind the curve when it comes to volunteering our time and donating our money, not because we’re stingy or selfish, but because most of us just don’t have an excess of either. What time and money we do have to spare – or sacrifice – is traditionally given to church first, and maybe to our children’s school, athletic program, and perhaps our alma mater.

    Our hearts are in the right place. When we see tragedy, especially when it hits as close to home in places like New Orleans and Haiti, we, mainly through organizations that we trust, make a commitment to give. If we follow through, it usually doesn’t last very long. I’m not mad at us for it. We have a lot of commitments to honor, and sometimes we just can’t do what we’d like.

    But for those of you who have it in your heart on this day at this time to make a monetary commitment to help Medishare keep its door open, I’d like for you to join forces with us to make that happen. A thousand, a hundred, 50, 20, 10 dollars or one dollar – whatever you can give will help, but the key is to actually give. It’s the not the amount that matters, it’s the follow-through. If everyone kept the pledges made to Medishare, it would be running at full capacity.

    In so many areas of our lives, we make unrealistic commitments and naturally end up not being able to honor them. Not only do we feel awful, but we hurt whomever was depending on us. A lot of time, it’s ourselves. Instead of saying we’ll work out three times a week, we announce that we’re going to work out every day. Instead of shooting to lose a pound a week, we announce a goal of losing 50. Instead of committing to read a chapter a day with our kids, we tell them to read a book a week. Let’s stop doing that. Let’s be real about what we can do. And then let’s do what we say we’ll do.

    I have nothing bad to say about any organization out there promising to give the money you send them to Haiti. But I will say this about the BlackAmericaWeb.com relief fund for Haiti: Every dime of that money will go to Medishare. If your reason for not giving is that you’re not sure it will get there, I’m promising that it will.

    So, how much can you give?

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