If you've ever read my "About Julie" section, you have a better "context" for what I share on this blog. In a similar way, all the recent news about Haiti takes on more meaning when we get some "context" for understanding the country "pre-earthquake 2010." We are so focused on the current pain and suffering, but it helped me to learn a few things about Haiti's background. Here's what I learned:
- Columbus discovered Haiti in 1492, and the Spanish annihilated the native people. In 1697 Spain ceded the western half of the island to France and it became what we know as Haiti.
- After a history of slavery and revolt, Haiti became the "first black republic to declare independence in 1804." (CIA World Factbook)
- As the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, Haiti has been plagued by political instability. An armed revolt led to the resignation and exile of their president in 2004, and Haiti finally elected a president and parliament through democratic process in May of 2006. Imagine if this was what filled our news in the last 6 yrs.
- The median age of the over 9 million people is 20, and 38 % of the population is age 14 or under.
- Almost half of the people live in urban areas, and the life expectancy is about age 60.
- Risk of infectious disease is high from waterborn illness (bacteria, Hepatitis A & E, Typhoid), Dengue Fever, Malaria. This will be a huge consideration in days to come.
- 80% claim to be Roman Catholic; about half of the population practices voodoo.
- Official languages are French and Creole, and about half the population is literate.Facts taken from : https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ha.html
Natural disasters like this week's earthquake in Haiti are reported yearly around the globe, and the names of the events represent many individuals who suffer. In 2009 there were terrible floods in the Philippines and a tsunami in the Samoas. I shared a 4 part series called, "Praying for Pia." I would encourage you to read this post about how to respond to the enormous needs of the people in Haiti or this post about how to pray for those in poor countries who are faced with disaster. Many trusted organizations such as Samaritans Purse are already "on the ground" and ready to meet needs. They fed people today and provided medical help today, and I am so thankful! I feel better prepared to know how to pray and how to give, now that I've learned about more about "WHO Haiti is."
Lord, give your mercy to the people of Haiti today. Protect those who are most vulnerable, and stir up compassion among those who share their suffering. Please bring out the best in those who are made in Your image. Where there is thirst, please provide water. Where there is hunger, please provide food. Where there is fear, please give the comfort of being under Your wing. Where there is desperation, please give hope. Enable those who know You to represent You well, as Your hands and feet, to bring the truth to those who are in darkness spiritually and physically, as night comes again to the homeless and helpless. Help those of us who were not effected by this disaster to give generously of our prayer time and our resources, so You will be honored by the aroma of compassion.