Help for Haitians

Our View

The United Nations reports that about 3 million people in Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest nation, may need aid after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake. Three million people – a third of the Haitian population – would fill more than 32 Bryant-Denny Stadiums.

That doesn’t even count those who perished. Some of those have been found, their bodies missing limbs and their faces battered beyond recognition. Others have not. The figures are prone to rapid shifts since, after all, Haiti was not a developed country before the 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed structures large and small, ranging from single-family homes to the presidential palace in the capital, Port-au-Prince, which now resembles a war zone.

With the collapsed buildings and shattered lives, it would be easy to foretell a future of renewed chaos in Haiti, a country wrought with political violence and mistrust for years.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Rather, Tuesday’s devastation can serve as a call to service, action, and unity for the Haitian people.

It can also be a summons for us to be an integral part of a nation’s recovery. It is an opportunity for the United States to be a force for good. In an age where needs are not always clear-cut, we should embrace the chance to aid our neighbors to the south.

We encourage the UA community to become involved in relief efforts in Haiti, financially or otherwise. And more importantly, we encourage our colleagues to remain involved.

We believe, though, that international support should not be one-and-done. It should not be a short, temporary effort. Rather, we must continue to support – perhaps even sustain –the people of Haiti, even after the death tolls disappear from the front pages, until they have the ability to restore and maintain their own fortunes. We have an obligation to continue our efforts to foster positive political and economic growth on the island.

We cannot abandon Haiti. That would be too simple, and desertion is, unfortunately, all too common.

Already, Haiti has been the recipient of an international outpouring of support. But what will happen when the world moves away on to another story? Will Haiti’s destruction be any less difficult a burden to bear? Will orphaned children have their parents again? Will the Haitian government, already unstable, be a sudden bastion of strength and integrity?

The answer to all of those questions is simple and difficult: “No.” We have an obligation – be it moral or political – to help. If we fail, we will maintain our status as the richest nation in respect to monetary wealth, but we will far from the richest in terms of deed and decent sacrifice.