(By Marlon Migala)
If not now when?
Have you ever gone camping? In a nice mountain tent for a weekend or maybe a week ? Imagine living in that tent or maybe under some improvised tarp materials for 14 months; without a car to go to the supermarket and store up food; without a propane camp stove but merely an improvised container burning charcoal and inhaling its toxic fumes to cook a meager ration of rice and beans, month after month!
Imagine rainwater seeping in, under you, as you try to sleep and wind that tears at your tent till it springs leaks and the rain attacks from above.
Imagine drinking unsafe water and praying that Cholera or other water born diseases don’t invade your body and threaten your life. Imagine living like this next to others; so close you can hear them sneeze or snore and doing so on a median between 2 lanes of traffic rolling by belching carbon monoxide and if your child comes out of your tent alone and steps too far he/she might be struck by a passing vehicle.
Imagine these and more then you may begin to understand what Haitians have been enduring, for more than a year, after that earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010. Would you put up with such circumstances ? Could you endure under such conditions ? Think times are tough here in the U.S.A with unemployment about 9%. Try 80% to 85% on for size. If you pay your electric bill there’s still the T.V. or radio to fall asleep to while forgetting your troubles.
In Haiti electricity is a 4 hour, at best, commodity that your neighborhood might get in the middle of the night. However, not if you’re one of the million still in a tent. Want to read your N.Y. Times or Bible at night ? OK, if you can get oil for your oil lamp.
Complaining about $4.00 a gallon gas ? Try $10.00 a gallon if there’s any available at the few stations that have it. Not satisfied with your government, the Republicans or Democrats ? Try Haiti’s and see where that gets you.
Think you could live on $200 to $500 a year?
Step outside of your home and look at it. Imagine it’s a pile of rubble and not insured. Well, there’s always that tent which you hope you took with you, when fleeing your home as the earth began to rumble and shake and you ran for dear life and watched your American Dream collapse ! There, but for the Grace of God go you, me, us, we and them, who were unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ! The bell tolls and thank God it hasn’t tolled for you but if you are part of the family of man, listen to its plaintive call and help those for whom it has tolled the loudest.
CONSIDER SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT
If you gave up one Starbucks latte a week for a year you could put a Haitian child through one year’s school.
If you cooked in and gave up eating out (for a family of four) once or twice a week for a year you could help liberate a family of six Haitians from a tent on the ground into a safe, permanent, sustainable and decent dwelling.
If you rented or downloaded a movie once a week for a year rather than going to the Cineplex (with your family of four) you could move a Haitian family from their torn, leaking tarp, survival circumstance into a solid, off the ground, transitional shelter.
If you by passed your fast food local source for one month (with your family of four) you would provide a Haitian family with a clean, non toxic ethanol burning cook stove. If you did that for a year you could help fund a job producing ethanol distillery to make ethanol for those cook stoves.
I could go on with a lot more examples but suffice it to say that Grace and its wonderfully committed partners are building transitional shelters and sustainable permanent homes for a Haitian population whom you must consider to be a distant part of your family of man.
Forty percent of Haitian families meager income goes into buying charcoal, the production of which is destroying the landscape of its trees and the burning of which is destroying lungs.
Grace and its partner Gaia are bringing in ethanol/alcohol cook stoves and are prepared to distill that fuel when funding is forthcoming. We will grow fuel fodder and in the interim help clean up and distill, into fodder mash, the vegetable waste that clogs the roadside markets.
Long term, Grace plans to begin an Arbor tree planting program to initiate restoration of the ravaged land thus preventing the mudslides that have killed so many and washed away valuable topsoil into the sea.
Your generous contributions will go far in the future as Grace is securing preferred NGO (Non-Governmental Agency) status which will drastically reduce, customs related, costs of relief and restoration; so the question remains… If not now, when?
Examine your heart and you will know that …NOW is the TIME for all People of Good Will to act !