2011 has seen a frenzy of media coverage on several huge tragic stories. But like every other before them, the television cameras and reporters lens eventually faded, the spotlight dimmed gradually until it was extinguished completely. What happens after the attention lessens then dies? Did the pain, turmoil, and need go away?
Two such stories that come to mind are Somalia and the rest of the starving Horn of Africa and Haiti. Though Haiti’s earthquake wasn’t in 2011, the devastation was so deep and far-reaching, the pain, loss and need are still ever-present and prevalent.
The January 12, 2010, 7.7 magnitude earthquake killed a staggering 316, 000 people and injured 300,000 according to the Haitian government. Millions more were displaced, their already fragile homes and meager existence completely wiped out. One year later, cholera devastated the French Caribbean Island once more, adding to the mounting cost in lives and finance.
The 2 year anniversary is almost upon us but the nationwide rebuilding in terms of homes and infrastructure is far from complete. Thankfully some progress has been made in political stability with the recently appointed President Michel Joseph Martelly on May 14---and some strides in education and community development.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, only half of Haiti's children start school and deeply troubling one percent manage to finish high school. The earthquake didn’t create the entire crisis for there were widespread social, economic, political ills already crippling the impoverished Island—but the devastation exacerbated the situation.
The average Haitian family lives on a reported $2 a day so sending their children to school can be a costly affair. But the financial shortage doesn’t stop there, the government is unable to provide adequate schools and staff and most currently operating do so largely through charitable organizations like Haiti Partners, Grameen Creative Lab and Clinton Global Initiative—which also provide loans for an innovative program called social business. People are taught how to work and invest that money back into their communities, including schools.
Homes are slowly being rebuilt but hundreds of thousands still live in makeshift tent cities. (see Haiti: Life in a tent). One retired businessman, in collaboration with 'Food For The Poor' based in Florida, is helping in the building process of One village at a time in Haiti . Ben Scott, has reportedly raise $600,000 to build 60 homes in the Boca Grande Friendship Village, replete with a school, vocational institution, water plant, fruit garden and all the amenities to sustain self-sufficient living. He plans to build 40 more homes in a similar village soon.
But there is so much more to do.
The crisis in Africa is no less daunting. Somalia’s famine was so catastrophic, that over 29,000 children starved to death in just 3 months. Millions more were at risk of dying in the worst drought to hit that part of Africa in 6 decades. The situation was so dire that the United Nations called the famine in the Horn of Africa “the worst humanitarian crisis of 2011.
The World Food Programme's projected sum total needed was $342 million to help feed 11.3 million people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Civil war in Somalia, with heavy control by the Islamic Militant group al-Shabab, has compounded the problem and aid organisations had an extremely difficult time getting food and medical supplies to the starving people, especially in rural areas.
They have since withdrawn from the main city of Mogadishu after clashing with the African Union Peacekeepers and troops from the interim government but they still controls much of the rural areas.
Thankfully, the U.N reports that the widespread global support has helped save millions of lives and 3 regions in Somalia are no longer considered famine zones but crisis is not over. Over 250,000 people are still at risk of starving and need help.
A small donation of $7, provides therapeutic food for a malnourished child, so if you can afford to spare a little, the following charities are accepting donations online: