14 January 2010

(Un)natural Disaster in Haiti

My thoughts and prayers are with Haitians (in Haiti and across its dyaspora). The news about the earthquake and relief efforts have occupied my mind and spirit all day long... I ended my 2009 postings on conscious vibration with sister poems I wrote about Haiti and Haitians/Haitian-Bahamians. I shared them in honor of Haiti's Independence and as part of my postings on human rights in December. And now I begin 2010 with these thoughts, new reflections, and a call to action -- to help and do what we can for Haiti.

Today's Democracy Now aired a report about Haiti and the earthquake - and they focused on not only the immediate crisis, but also long term concerns, like migration rights. They offered an in depth discussion about the political turmoil in Haiti and the history of U.S. occupations and interference that created/exacerbated the poverty, environmental degradation, and poor infrastructure in the country. Hence, they made it clear that this is more than a "natural" disaster. In fact, it is quite unnatural considering how much Haiti's political crisis and status as "the poorest country in the western hemisphere" has everything to do with the lingering effects of colonialism and new forms of imperialism. Democracy Now dared to also bring up the subject of migration - raising the question of the United States deporting Haitians during this time of crisis. It seems that deportation will stop for now, but it is unclear how long this will last. While the immediate relief efforts grow, we also have to think about the long term relief and support. It is time for serious and radical change in our collective thinking about migration rights.

CARICOM has pledged emergency aid and is organizing relief efforts within the region. Its closest neighbor, Dominican Republic, responded immediately with relief efforts. The news reports in countries close to Haiti are already discussing the issue of migration and deportation. The Jamaican prime minister is scheduled to visit Haiti on Thursday to assess how Jamaica can help; their government has also issued a statement that they are preparing for migrants fleeing Haiti. The government of The Bahamas has also promised emergency aid and postponed all repatriation efforts; and they too are preparing for more Haitian migrants.

As a Bahamian in solidarity with Haitians and supporter of migration rights as human rights, I am continually disturbed at the anti-migration sentiment in my country and the lack of humanity in which we discuss Haitian migration. The Bahamas is home to many Haitian migrants and Haitian-Bahamians; and our migration policy concerning Haitians is just as bad as the United States. And so even as I cringe at the language being used in some of these regional news reports, I am relieved that our leaders are responding with immediate aid and help. But I am hoping for more action. And I am hoping (against all hope) that this catastrophe sparks change in our public discourse and government policies -- that our consciousness and solidarity with Haiti across the region grows.

I urge all of us to do what we can to help - donating money is probably the easiest/fastest way to help. But there are other ways we can help too - sharing information, creating awareness, and supporting efforts for migration rights and policy changes. (A good start: Sign this Petition by Credo Action - To President Obama, requesting Temporary Protected Status for Haitian refugees in the United States.) 

Here's a list of established and well-reputed organizations that are supporting relief efforts -- donate if you can and/or share this list:

Lambi Fund of Haiti(a grassroots organization who works with community organizations in Haiti) - Donate via text by texting: "send $20 to give@lambifund.org" to PAYPAL (729-725) using paypal mobile...send any $ amt now! 

Yele Haiti (a movement led by Wyclef Jean that is helping to bring hope back to Haiti. Projects are designed to make a difference in the fields of education, health, environment and community development.) - Donate via text: Text 'Yele' to 501501 and make a $5 contribution to the relief effort.

Partners in Health (Zanmi Lasante) (Partners In Health staff in Boston and Haiti are working to collect as much information as possible about the conditions on the ground, the relief efforts taking shape, and all relevant logistics issues in order to respond efficiently and effectively to the most urgent needs in the field.)

Doctors without Borders (The first reports are now emerging from Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams who were already working on medical projects Haiti. They are treating hundreds of people injured in the quake and have been setting up clinics in tents to replace their own damaged medical facilities.)

Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement. They are calling for help - to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti.)

*** Let us stand in solidarity with Haiti. Let's create awareness about Haiti and its history. Let's fight against migration politics that are unjust. Let's think about how we can strategize and mobilize these moments to create long lasting and community building / sustaining change.***

I began the new year by creating a vision board of what I wanted 2010 to be for me. As part of my vision, I used the slogan for the upcoming U.S. Social Forum - "Another World Is Possible, Another Us Is Necessary" -- this captured perfectly for me how I'm thinking about revolution and love. For today and the days to come, these words carry even more weight and importance to me - because we have little choice. I have to believe in this now more than ever.

In solidarity & conscious vibration...


Unknown said...

'another world is possible, another us is necessary' - certainly another language is necessary, another way to talk these things that have always existed... sometimes i feel like i'm speaking a different language... i say look at what has happened to us, and they are saying look at what has happened to them...
we should be in the streets mourning, holding our heads and our hearts in our hands, throwing prayers to the heavens giving thanks for our own lives...
i give thanks for your prayers sister, your words, your desire to help in any way possible, your attempts to connect people are prayers for the haitian people and for us all....

Helen Klonaris said...

Angelique, thanks for these words, and thank you for your call to all of us to educate ourselves even more regarding Haiti's history - to expose the story underneath this really awful story playing out as we write, speak, breathe, drink, eat, sleep and wake again... yes, grateful, and yes, knowing even more deeply, profoundly in these days how we are all connected... blessings to you, to us, HK

Evelyn Vaccaro said...

Beautifully written and so informative. I will be passing this link on to everyone on my contact list. I've also just signed the petition and will continue to read and educate myself on these issues. Love you, Ev