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Aiding Haiti is a must for UI community and Americans alike

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JANUARY 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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The devastation is widespread, the pleas for aid are gut-wrenching, and the whole world is watching. Hundreds of Haitians are dead, and bodies litter the crumbled streets.

Roughly 2,000 miles away, take note of the UI students grudgingly complaining about the blistering cold and the start of a new semester. Life goes on in the Midwest. It’s palpably clear that the discrepancy between America and impoverished nations is voluminous. We all see the pictures, watch the newscasts, and read the anecdotes; but treating the earthquake in Haiti as only another, albeit severe, news story is a direct negligence of our ability — and some may say responsibility — as prosperous citizens to support the less fortunate.

Americans and, more locally, the UI community should do whatever they can to aid beleaguered Haitians. And when the journalists and cameras leave, we shouldn’t concurrently forget the destruction and post-earthquake exigency.

That’s not to say eastern Iowa communities, including UI students, are ignoring the Latin American nation. The Daily Iowan has run numerous stories of courageous and commendable efforts heeding Haiti’s cries for help.

Just Thursday, the UI College of Law sponsored a fundraiser luncheon, and UI graduate Lucy Joseph spearheaded a Haitian cuisine lunch to raise money as well.

In addition, UI freshman Jared Krauss plans to spend his spring break helping Haitians recover.

“I get fed up with people moaning about what’s going on … go do something about it,” Krauss told the DI earlier this month.

Krauss is planning a fundraising effort to attract more students to join him.

Even if local endeavors will make a minuscule mark in the grand scheme of things, those like Krauss and Joseph represent a vital cog in the American disaster relief engine. The ravaged country’s demand for the most basic of human necessities — food, water, shelter — is seemingly infinite. We urge UI community members to donate whatever they can to Haiti. It’s not hard; at least text 90999 to Haiti and contribute $10. But beyond spot donations, the earthquake has spurred support drives across the nation.

Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas said the UI will host a benefit in the Englert Theatre next month, both to raise money and promote Haitian culture. The event will personalize Haiti, he said, rather than simply asking for donations.

“We expect there will be other needs in the months to come,” Thomas said.

There’s no panacea for the ravaged Caribbean nation. But we hope at least some UI students will consider volunteer work in Haiti. Thomas said there may be opportunities in the future for students to participate in such relief efforts.

“I’m sure there will be interest in six months from now or eight months from now,” he said.

In a Pew Research Center survey released on Tuesday, 47 percent of respondents said they followed the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake more closely than any other story. Eventually, CNN and its media cohorts will ship out of Haiti, though, and news coverage of the decimated country will recede from the collective psyche of Americans.

And that’s exactly when those personally unaffected by the disaster should take it upon themselves to realize that residents of Port-au-Prince cannot simply turn off the TV and make it all go away.


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