Helping Haiti through turmoil

One of the poorest countries in the world suffered a terrible tragedy. Now the United States and the world are rushing to the aid of this tiny island nation.

Photo By David Freyermuth
Ryan McCarthy

I am so lucky. I wake up every morning in a warm house, crawl out of my twin-sized bed and walk downstairs to a fully stocked pantry of breakfast cereals. I take a hot shower, get ready for school and drive off in my own car.

I can’t imagine what it was like for the people of Haiti to wake up Jan. 13, the morning after a devastating earthquake, wondering whether they would survive the next day because there wasn’t any drinking water. Or having to find a safe place to stay that might not have a real roof. I can’t imagine it.

The entire capital city of Port-au-Prince collapsed. The death toll continues to rise every single day. reports that more than 140,000 lives were lost in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, having only $1,317 GDP per capita. They have a struggling economy due to an unstable infrastructure and have struggled to establish a central government that will support the country. It is a country that is forgotten about and viewed as a lost cause. It is ravaged by tropical storms every single year, yet no one brings it up unless a complete human tragedy happens, like this earthquake.

But this isn’t the first time the United States has been a part of rebuilding Haiti. In 1915, just after World War I, the United States took over in all aspects until they finally pulled out in 1934. President Woodrow Wilson said that it was a mission to keep “peace and order” to make the foreign policy decision seem justified. Rebel groups tried to resist for 15 years, but it wasn’t until FDR established the Good Neighbor Policy that we abandoned Haiti.

The second time Americans became involved with Haiti was in 2004, when a Haitian uprising forced the United States into action again. There was some controversy, however, because President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was exiled with the help of the American military after he lost control of his country in the face of rebel group action.

This is one of many times in history that the United States has taken over a country, and something we have done already is build up the infrastructure of Haiti. As of Jan. 16, the United States has already donated $48 million to the recovery. But this cannot just be a United States recovery in action, it has to be an international recovery in action.

And so far it has been with Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and China pledging to donate tens of millions of dollars. Cuba sent hundreds of doctors to help in the effort. Venezuela, Mexico, France, Iceland, Taiwan, Israel, Russia and many other countries have sent all the essential survival supplies. What these countries haven’t done is pledge to stick around to bolster this floundering country.

When I write columns, I tend to look at the negative parts of the world and what needs to be fixed.

This is not something that needs to change in our world. When we see tragedy, we respond to it and do whatever we can to give relief to a country. But relief is not the same as recovery. Recovery takes time and effort from all the countries involved. I don’t know how long it will take for Haiti to become a stable nation, but it takes an international effort.

To donate to this cause please go to The headquarters is located in Olathe. You can also text “ Haiti” to 90999 to donate to the American Red Cross.