Personal stories bring carnage in Haiti much closer to home
The Vanguard Vision
January 18, 2010 —
At this point in our lives, even those of us who are not avid consumers of news should be very familiar with turning on the TV or opening up a newspaper or magazine and seeing devastation. Wars and conflicts worldwide are documented more than they have ever been before, so it comes as no surprise that we can skim a page of photographs displaying the weak, the suffering, the dying and the dead while listening to an iPod and scarfing down lunch. We read tragic news, but most of us are good at putting the darker side of life out of sight and mind. When it comes to Haiti and the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that caused mass devastation Tuesday, we at the Vanguard have found that this particular catastrophic event is especially hard to ignore.
It may be true that distance and watching a horrific event unfold on a screen among so much other fiction can make a tragedy feel like another creation of Hollywood. But right now, Haiti is different, we find. The live news coverage occupying nearly every time slot of some major networks is more than a view of the wreckage from a helicopter. Instead, reporters are on the ground, ripping the microphones from their shirts to let passersby communicate to their friends and families elsewhere in the world. Sitting in our living rooms, we watch human beings deliver a sobering message: ďI want you to know Iím alive.Ē
This week, the Vanguard had the opportunity to speak with Hansel Vedrine and Wilnic Georges, two SVSU students who are natives of Haiti and received word that the orphanage they grew up in collapsed to the ground. Midland nurse Lynda Varner, Vedrineís adoptive mom, shared the story of her connection with Haiti through missions work. Their stories do even more to bring Haitiís struggles closer to Saginaw.
Varner plans to return to Haiti at the end of the month, although she never could have anticipated the ruins and devastation she will see firsthand. Now is the time to help support all those who are helping put Haiti back together. The goal campus organizations have set of raising at least $1 per student is absolutely attainable. It is our hope that the SVSU community will dig deep into its pockets to help those relief workers who are helping in a way that many of us arenít or canít.
The disaster in Haiti is yet another reminder that in many ways our suffering is miniscule in comparison to those in the poorest nation in the world. Even those of us who struggle day-to-day to pay bills and eat are in a better position to have opportunities in this life than many of the people of Haiti. The nation needs help, and itís going to take time. Unfortunately, the death toll is likely to increase. The injured need aid in a country where an effective emergency response system is nonexistent, where communication is extremely difficult.
We canít escape the fact that the United States has its hands in a host of other problems. We have health care woes, the War on Terror and a to-do list that is miles long. However, when a natural disaster strikes, we are reminded that some things are unforeseeable, and that all humans, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, depend on each other to survive.
Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is an opportune time to remember the message of togetherness Dr. King lived and breathed. So instead of turning the channel, we encourage you to help relief efforts in any way that you can, because not only do those in Haiti not have widespread access to TV, they couldnít change the channel on the reality of their situation if they wanted to.