One of the many reasons I haven't been blogging in the past week is that I am utterly in shock over Haiti.
It's not just the scale of the death and destruction that is bothering me. It's the world response, despite the outpouring of aid, and the media coverage.
I will have much more to say about this in a column tomorrow. But for now, all I ask is that you give. And give.
One of my suggestions is Partners in Health, which was on the ground there long before the newsnet cameras rolled in. You can do that by texting ''help'' to 1291.
Aside from the usual relief efforts, I am also supporting Madre.
MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women's organizations worldwide to address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic development, education and other human rights. We provide resources and training to enable our sister organizations to meet these goals by addressing immediate needs in their communities and developing long-term solutions to the crises they face.
We work towards a world in which all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights; in which resources are shared equitably and sustainably; in which women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and in which people have a meaningful say in decisions that affect their lives.
We have determined that our partner organization in Haiti, Zanmi Lasante, is able to bring humanitarian aid overland into the country. Teams of healthcare workers from the project have established a functioning supply chain through the Dominican Republic and are currently delivering medical aid to those most in need in Haiti.
Zanmi Lasante has more than 120 doctors and nearly 500 nurses and nursing assistants coordinating emergency medical relief efforts. They are setting up mobile field hospitals in Port-au-Prince, where staff can triage patients, provide emergency care and send those who need surgery or more complex treatment to our partner’s functioning hospitals and surgical facilities outside the destroyed city.
All Haitians are suffering right now. But, women are often hardest hit when disaster strikes because they were at a deficit even before the catastrophe. In Haiti, and in every country, women are the poorest and often have no safety net, leaving them most exposed to violence, homelessness and hunger in the wake of disasters. Women are also overwhelmingly responsible for other vulnerable people, including infants, children, the elderly, and people who are ill or disabled.
Like Hillary Clinton said just last week: If you teach a man to fish, he will eat the rest of his life. Teach a women to fish, and she will feed the whole village.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: Almost forgot to add this fine piece about Madre by the Star's Leslie Scrivener.
A Haitian women's organization documented 238 rapes in an 18-month period ending June 2008: 140 of those were girls aged 19 months to 18 years.
Prosecutions for rape, which became a criminal offence only in 2005, are pitifully few. The Guardian newspaper reported in a documentary film last year only 12 rape cases went to trial and that the police unit in charge of child protection has only 12 officers for 4 million children.
"I am not able to go to the police because I am really frightened," a girl named Stephanie, who was raped during carnival in February 2007, told Amnesty International. "The attackers really pressured me not to report them although I don't know them. This is all so humiliating. I had to stay quiet."
A girl named Laure described to Amnesty International how her landlord forced her to have sex – sometimes at gunpoint – so her family would not be evicted. When Laure's mother complained to the police, she was beaten up and Laure was raped again.