National Catholic Register

Opinion

Long Haul for Haiti

BY Father Owen Kearns, LC

Publisher

February 28-March 13, 2010 Issue | Posted 2/22/10 at 2:00 AM

 

Relief efforts, many led by Catholic organizations, continue in Haiti even as the tragedy fades from the headlines of the mainstream media. Helping the Haitian people put their lives back together is going to be a long, slow process. They were survivors of grinding poverty and broken governance before the massive quake rattled Port-au-Prince.

How bad are things in the little nation less than 800 miles from American soil? On Feb. 16, the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Development Bank compared the Haiti earthquake with 2,000 other natural disasters over the past 40 years. The institution’s report says that, considering the number of deaths per million inhabitants — a quarter of a million people may have died out of a population of 8.7 million — Haiti 2010 is almost certain to be the most destructive natural disaster in modern times.

The report also noted that the cost to treat the wounded and rebuild their homes and towns will be from $7 billion to as much as $13 billion. (Original estimates were in the $5 billion range.)

These daunting statistics could have the effect of making people who could help feel helpless.

As Catholics, we know better. Where there is Christ, there is hope, and Christ is alive and well in Haiti. He’s there in the Blessed Sacrament. (The country is 80% Catholic.) He’s there in the eyes of the poor. And he’s there in the helping hands and sacrificing hearts of the relief workers.

“Healing Haiti will take a lot of time and require much patience,” says Ryan Flood of Connecticut-based Catholic World Mission. “We must respond with our time as we count on our supporters’ patience.”

Please continue to pray for everyone in Haiti, every day, and financially assist the aid organizations as you are able.