After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, citizens throughout the world have pledged significant support to the victims. The Haitian government — and many of the buildings that housed the nation’s highest political offices — is now in ruins. Amid that void, the United States and other nations and relief organizations have stepped in to offer aid. As groups like the World Food Program announce campaigns to send relief to Haiti and appeal for public donations, it’s clear that other bodies have a moral imperative to contribute to the cause. Numerous University organizations have already begun to arrange efforts to assist Haiti. Now, students need to offer their help however they can.
The three million victims of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12 experienced destruction of immense proportions. The nation lost the structures that housed the UN and Haitian government, including the Presidential Palace. The Port-Au-Prince Cathedral, the main jail, educational facilities and most area hospitals were all completely destroyed or seriously damaged in the quake. The Haitian Interior Minister projects that death toll has reached 200,000.
The United States has already sent considerable aid. President Barack Obama has pledged $100 million in federal funds. The United States has begun issuing humanitarian visas to orphaned Haitian children. The number of U.S. troops dispatched to the area is expected to soon increase to about 10,000 to aid the efforts. This response is encouraging, but the U.S. must continue to work closely with Haiti and other nations and independent organizations to create a global network of support.
Many student groups here at the University have used their roles in the social service arena to encourage support for Haiti. Myron Bishop, advisor to the Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council, has said that the two organizations are combining efforts to create the most effective plan for aid. On Jan. 15, the University Health System announced the mobilization of a multi-faceted response — including sending packages of medical supplies, an ambulance jet with a full medical and flight crew and arranging to send volunteers from its medical staff to care for victims in Haiti.
The overall University response has been inspiring and should be continued. While the devastation that has occurred in Haiti may seem far away to those in a secure college bubble, this travesty must serve as a reminder that, as Obama wrote in this week’s edition of Newsweek, “life can be unimaginably cruel.” Students should take every available opportunity to support these relief efforts. Students have a multitude of organizations to choose to help, from the Red Cross to the Greek system, and should contribute whatever they can to help Haiti at this pivotal moment.
The United States government and other nations should work with Haiti to help those affected by the earthquake. But the relief effort needs everyone’s support. Students also have a responsibility to the global community and the earthquake’s victims to join in offering aid. And with numerous options to donate available, there’s no excuse for ignoring this pressing need.