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Davis, California

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Column: Americares

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Thousands dead. One huge reality check for the rest of the world.

The earthquake in Haiti last week should have opened the eyes of the incredibly privileged people in modern countries around the world. New death toll estimates are as high at 200,000 people and one-third of the Haitian population is now homeless. It reminds us that although money, power and greed might keep us safe and sound in America, when Mother Nature hits, none of that will protect us.

Politicians, former presidents and humanitarians all around the world are coming together to send aid and relief to Haiti. Even former President Bush started a relief fund with former President Clinton. (The thought of Bush starting a relief fund for victims of a natural disaster is ironic and actually makes me chuckle.)

The fact that Haiti is an incredibly poor and unstable country doesn’t help. Even in a country like America, though, rebuilding after a natural disaster is not easy. New Orleans is still facing the lasting effects of Hurricane Katrina. That storm was predictable and projected to hit a specific region of the country. The Hurricane Katrina Relief website stated that 1,836 people died, 705 people are still declared missing and 400,000 jobs were lost due to the storm. Everyone remembers how sketch the help for New Orleans was. But I’m glad Bush figured it out in time for Haiti. (Wow, even as a former president I can’t stand him.)

The devastating earthquake in Haiti seems to have brought people closer and reminded them that country boarders are invisible. Unless your country boarder is beginning to have a wall built along it.

But the effects of these disasters are short-lived. In a few months, the local news will turn back to focusing on black-on-white crime and talking up the new national health threat we need to hide from. And while we sit on our thrones, the people of Haiti will slowly fade out of our consciousness and we can go back to hating the Muslims.

If Haiti had any kind of oil, land or natural mineral that the United States really wanted, we could kill the same 200,000 people in a month without losing sleep.

This disaster should not be thought of in a vacuum. The terror, the lost lives and living conditions that are shadowing the people of Haiti is shared with countries all over the world. Just because there is no country to blame for the killings doesn’t mean it’s the only occasion to help one another.

Had an earthquake hit Iraq and killed the hundreds of thousands of people, would we be more sympathetic toward their losses? What difference does it make that it is our bombs that are doing the killing rather some force of nature?

We need to connect the dots in the similarities of pain and suffering around the world. Collateral damage might sound okay by definition, but the politics affecting these lives are just as forceful as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

SARA KOHGADAI is hoping for the best for Haiti. Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross for relief. She can be contacted at sbkohgadai@ucdavis.edu.


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