Reflections of Hope and Discord: Dr. King and Haiti

A time to pause and reflect

The Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday in the United States is a day that always makes me pause and reflect, for a variety of reasons.   It is a day born out of controversy and discord, honoring a man who fought to change our country.   That alone is enough reason that every person in the United States should pause for a moment or two a reflect where we have come from, where we are today, and how very far we still have to go to attain the dream of Dr. King.

This year, the holiday is marred by the tragedy in Haiti.  The earthquake that struck last week did a horrifying amount of damage to the country, killing thousands of people, and destroying much of an already fragile infrastructure.   Conditions are terrible, and can only get worse, despite some news reporting of the small miracles of people being rescued from the rubble of the ruined city of Port au Prince.  Some are even suggesting that the country should be abandoned, and that Haitians should move to other countries.   In the end, these are all long term concerns.

Donations Help, But not enough

There is a much more immediate short term problem.  Consider this report from Linda Polman of TimesOnline:

Aid workers have already baptised the earthquake in Haiti a “historical disaster”. It will rate high in the annals of the humanitarian aid world because of the number of victims and scale of the destruction. But the rescue operation is also becoming notorious for the slowness with which aid is reaching the victims. Five days after the quake hit, many places are still largely bereft of international aid.

Not through lack of funds, supplies or emergency experts. Those are all pouring in from dozens of countries. But most of the aid — and aid workers — seems stuck at the airport.

Rescue teams have pulled survivors from five-star hotels, university buildings, a supermarket and the UN headquarters, all in Port-au-Prince’s better neighbourhoods. In poor areas, where the damage appears much greater, apparently forgotten victims report on Twitter that they have yet to encounter the first foreign rescuer.

Many aid workers are reported to have orders not to venture out without armed guards — which are not there at all, or only after long debates with the UN military command. The UN has lost a number of staff in the quake, and is not keen to risk more lives.

What can we do?

Here is a challenge for human resources professionals who blog or who are web savvy.  Let’s use the HR Carnival format to help focus donations to the most immediate needs.  It may sound crazy, but here is how we could make that happen.

  1. Select a charity that is soliciting donations for aid in Haiti
  2. Apply your HR and social media skills by doing a “background check” on that organization.  Here is a great place to start your research.
  3. Write up your findings, positive or negative, and post them on your blog no later than January 26th.
  4. Send me your links, and I will aggregate them into a special HR Carnival for Haiti here on January 27th.

If you don’t want to do some investigation and recommendation, profile a charity  anyway, or share your thoughts on what else people can do to aid the situation in Haiti.

Personally, I am going to do a profile of Doctors without Borders.

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