Imagine a population the size of New York City in a depression worse than the Great Depression. So bad, in fact, that unemployment records are not kept; estimates put it at 90%. Then imagine the city is below sea level, and the levees break. On top of that imagine an earthquake comparable to the one that struck San Francisco in 1906. This is essentially what has happened to Haiti.
Haiti is a desperately poor nation; most live on less than $400 a year. It's the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. There is very little infrastructure in the country; what little existed was in Port-au-Prince. Most Haitians do not have access to clean drinking water, sanitation, medical facilities, or emergency services. In 2008, the island was devastated by four hurricanes that struck back-to-back. Now this.
The news this morning is chilling. The above photos are the before and after pictures of the presidential palace. According to CNN, most of Port-au-Prince has been leveled and the death toll is expected to be in the thousands. The building housing the U.N. workers has collapsed. In the best of times, the capitol barely functions (and then mainly for the elite who live there). Haiti is our neighbor and it needs help. Many NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) have plans underway to deploy aid workers to assist in this catastrophe. For those of you who are able to help, I urge you to do some research, and locate a worthy organization to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts. The Haitians are, after all, our neighbors.
For those of you familiar with my connection with Haiti, I've heard from one of the missionaries at Danita's Children (located on the north east corner of the nation). Everyone at the orphanage and school are fine and the surrounding neighborhood seemed unaffected. In addition, another missionary has spoken with Pastor Daniel Paul at The House of the Lambs of God Orphanage and all is well there. We are still waiting to hear about Pastor Altese at the other ophanage in Ouanaminthe. I'll keep you posted.