20 January 2010

Thoughts on Haiti

I was just reading this article from the BBC News  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8469206.stm about the significant amount of amputations (both upper and lower extremity) that have needed to be performed in order to save countless lives of those injured during the earthquake in Haiti last week.

Many around the world are feeling helpless and desiring to help . . . but an immediate influx of well meaning foreigners might just overwhelm this devastated country. Yes they need help, but that's what organized government and NGO disaster relief programs are for. But many pack up and leave once the "situation is under control."

And this is where my OT brain kicks in . . . Médiecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and other groups are working hard, now, to save lives. That's their job. Doctors save lives. But what happens over the next few months and years when these lives are saved, but they have no where to live, nothing to eat, and no job . . . and these individuals are now living without one of their limbs. Who will be there in six months . . . in a year . . . in five years to help with the ongoing needs of one of the poorest countries in North America.

I have been mulling over the question of "If Jesus was alive today, what would He and His 12 closest friends be doing?" For starters I think He'd have disagreed (strongly) with those comme PatRobertson; remember the blind man . . . you know, when Jesus spit in the dirt to make some mud to rub on the guy's eyes and he was healed . . . what did Jesus say about his blindness?? The disciples assumed either this guy or his parents had some sort of massive sin that caused the blindness. But Jesus asks them "Why would you think that?? This man is blind so that through his healing the world can see the glory of God!" (very loose translation . . . for a better version of the story, read John 9).

After having made His point (with much greater concern and compassion towards folks like Mr. Robertson than I have), I think Jesus would have contacted Partners in Health or Samaritan's Purse to sign up as a medical professional. He would have encouraged the disciples to check out the Habitat for Humanity website or even the Red Cross site, to use their manual skills to help out . . . they were fishermen . . . Haiti's half of an island . . . lots of mouths to feed.

I guess the point to my mulling is that faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26). How does the world know that someone is a disciple of Jesus? By the way [we] love (John 13:35). Love looks different in all contexts . . . for some it is donating money . . . or resources . . . or skills . . . or time.

Right now I am developing a skill that would be useful in Haiti: French. When I'm done here I will develop another skill that would be useful (down the road, once limbs have had time to heal): PVC prosthetics. But until then, I have prayer. And that is one skill that requires no specific language or training. And if you're willing, I have an old friend, Keri, who will be heading with her husband, Joe, back to Haiti next week. She is a social worker who arranges for lifesaving and life altering surgeries for Haitian children. Pray for Keri and Joe and those already working at the orphanage. Pray for Emmanuel, a little boy they love that recently returned to Haiti after multiple surgeries on his legs (allowing him to walk). The last I heard, Emmanuel's school was flattened in the quake, but because of the time that school ends each day, there were no children inside (PTL!!) but K & J still had no word on E's whereabouts.

Each of the 200,000 have a name . . . and a family. And, just like the tsunami of 2004 in Sumatra, and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina of 2005 in New Orleans, Haiti will still need our help and care for years to come.

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