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Haiti January 15, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Compassion.
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One of those Discovery or History channels had a new show on last month about the 2004 Tsunami. They had gathered an extraordinary amount of home movie camera footage, and were showing much of it for the first time. The footage was arranged chronologically and geographically. Real live images of the first earthquakes. Hand-held camcorders capturing the initial “teaser” waves that brought shock and curiosity, followed by the receding waters that sadly brought out curious onlookers. And then, devastation. Panic. Chaos.

I could not watch the rest of the show. Had the images been part of a movie on a fictional planet, I would have marveled. Even if this was some Mega Disaster show with a scientific account explaining the waves with graphical reconstructions, I would have been fine. But these were camcorders with tapes from people on vacation. The day before, these tapes contained sun-splashed beachfront vistas. The next: people, real people, dying.

 I have all sorts of questions following disasters, and those questions are swirling again after the Haiti earthquake. 300,000 people died in the tsunami, and indirectly maybe a million. I did not know a single one of them. One day we will get a death count from Haiti, and it will be terrible. Again, I do not know anyone there. In a strange way I care more about the one person who died in Acworth, Georgia when her car ran off the icy roads a couple of weeks ago than any of these, because she was the wife of a guy with whom I’ve played soccer. I understand that humans do not have the capacity to feel the sorrow associated with every loss on Earth. I understand that our sense of loss is correlated with our proximity to the lost. See, I’m very analytical about these things. But then tragedy of such a massive scale strikes, like the tsunami, like Haiti, and I don’t know how to feel.

The images of Haiti are extraordinary. I’ve seen other earthquake photos showing cracks in ceilings, and even that collapsed freeway in San Fran, but these pictures are different. Here’s just one:


That was a six-story building. It just collapsed upon itself. There are so many images like this, it becomes numbing.

I watched a video on CNN of an 11-year-old girl pinned under part of a building like that one. Just like that, my proximity to the lost and hurting grew. I have little girls a lot like her. I don’t know her, but when she cried out in pain, I hurt too. I wanted to be there, finding a way to cut through that concrete.

Another little girl, Diana, is the child we sponsor through Compassion International. She lives in the Dominican Republic, on the same island as Haiti. I think she’s okay, but Compassion serves more than 65,000 children in Haiti, and at least a third live in areas that were hardest hit. I saw a video of one little girl, and was moved. I cannot comprehend twenty two thousand little children, the poorest of the poor, suffering from this earthquake.

 If you are moved to help, you can visit Compassion’s Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief donation page. For what it’s worth, I know these folks and I trust that they will be good stewards of the funds they receive. If you’re practical and analytical like me, here is a picture of their disaster relief kits. It helps me to see something tangible sometimes.

Haiti Donate Online
Haiti Earthquate


1. Steve Sloan - January 21, 2010

Great post Mark. Gabi and I watched the special on the tsunami back in December and we were floored as well. I was not as informed about that devastation as I probably should have been and adding those human faces to the tragedy really changed my perspective.

I was pleased to see that so many musical artists that I like are taking part in the telethon for Haiti tomorrow night. I’ll definitely be watching.

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