My dad and I have always been separated by 1,500 miles. While I am in New Jersey, slumped over my computer deleting his monotonous emails, he is in Port-au-Prince, managing garment factories that employ 1,300 Haitians.
Since the earthquake hit Port-au-Prince, his emails are sporadic but I am glued to my Macbook waiting his latest update. In the meantime I pore over pictures and links about Haiti. And four weeks have gone by as I Googled “Haiti 2010” and watched YouTube videos of devastated victims. I sent him an e-mail on Feb 10: “Call the house tonight because I want to know how it is down there for my article.”
He called two hours later but his exhausted voice was drowned out by enraged shouting. I sensed that he was not in his office; instead I could hear a whirring fan and the sputter of machines.
“Dad what’s with the loud noises?” I asked.
He responded, “It’s just some problems that the male workers have with setting up tents.
I had heard that relief efforts provided Haitians with tents but my dad corrected me saying that in reality, most of these “tents” were only plastic tarps. Desperate to know more, I asked my dad to get someone to translate the angry man’s conversation. He agreed and after a one-on-one phone call with Henry, the angry man, aided by a nervous translator, I learned that media attention could have its downfalls too.
Henry commented, “It’s so good to have all these photographers and journalists out of the Sonapi area. It would have been nice to have more aid workers in Sonapi rather than the news people.”
The media has printed hundreds of articles, displayed heartbreaking photographs, and shown live news feeds. Kudos to Twitter and Facebook for spreading rapidfire condolences. As a result, the whole world is now finally aware of and sorry for Haiti.
Yet, while Americans thirst for footage covering the tragic earthquake and its aftermath, the media can be invasive to Haitians. At the end of the phone call, my dad articulated similar sentiments to Henry’s:
“It’s really nice that you finally care more about Haiti. You should come down here once things settle…”
I knew what my father’s vague words truly meant.
“A 7.0 earthquake in Haiti is the idea of tragedy in a third world country. It shouldn’t take something that bad to make the whole world realize that Haiti is in need of help.”
Henry and my dad are right; it is pathetic that it took such a severe tragedy to rouse citizens of the first word, and I won’t exclude myself from this. Haiti has always been in my sphere of knowledge through my dad but I never took action to help this wounded country.
At least Riverdale is definitely doing everything it can to help Haiti. And even though each of us has our own personal cause, we have all made effort to raise money for these victims. It somewhat comforts me to know that I am fortunate enough to be enrolled in an privileged school that cares for the unprivileged victims who still need our help 1,500 miles away.