My daughter & her intercession classmates at IMSA used their class time in an Illinois History course yesterday to gain perspective on the disaster in Haiti. Then they put together the following info and sent it out to as many people as they could, hoping to make a difference. My heart is full of hope and love, for both the suffering people in Haiti, and for youth in our country who buck the apathetic trend and work to be involved. Please read their work below:
What We Owe Haiti
On January 12, 2010, at 21:53 UTC, Haiti was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the Caribbean’s most severe earthquake in over 200 years. The conditions were perfect for ultimate destruction. The fault line lies a mere 10 miles from the Haitian capital, Port-Au-Prince, and is extremely shallow, resulting in greater surface damage. Unlike the United States, Haiti lacks the necessary building codes to prevent its cities from collapsing in earthquakes. Along with these buildings, political order in Haiti has been destroyed. Even the main prison in Port-Au-Prince has been destroyed, meaning dangerous criminals are on the loose. With its infrastructure devastated, water sources contaminated medicine inaccessible and food scarce, Haitians are in danger of being murdered for the most basic necessities. The Haitian senator, Youri Latortue, has stated that the death toll could reach 500,000—greater than those of the 2004 Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and the 2005 Pakistani Earthquake combined.
The histories of Haiti and the Illinois are intertwined. The French settlement of Illinois and Louisiana was partially to provide foodstuffs for the sugar plantations of Haiti. In the 1750’s, the French built Fort de Chartres, south of modern Saint Louis, as part of a plan to use the Illinois Country to block English expansion into the Mississippi Valley, Mexico, and the French Caribbean. After the French and Indian War, an Afro-French Haitian, Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable built a trading post on the Chicago River, considered the founding of the city. Thus, the father of Chicago was actually a Haitian. At the end of the eighteenth century, Haiti fought a bloody yet successful war of independence to free itself from French rule. The Emperor Napoleon had planned to use the Louisiana Territory to feed the plantations of Haiti, but with its independence he sold Louisiana Territory to the United States essentially as a going out of business sale as it had no value to him. The I&M Canal, the Trans-Continental railroads, the Chicago Stockyards all came about because of the lands obtained from France. Clearly, we owe a great deal to Haiti.
After hurricane Katrina, people all over the world (including people from the Caribbean and Mexico) came to our assistance. Natural disasters are possible at any given place in the world. Even in the Midwest where they aren’t widely publicized, there is still danger. For example, the New Madrid Fault (in the Saint Louis area) will trigger a quake. In 1811, a quake along the fault line was so strong that the Mississippi River ran north for three days and places as far as Boston felt tremors violent enough to literally ring church bells. This earthquake was an 8.3 on the Richter scale. Just imagine, this quake had more than ten times the force of the recent disaster in Haiti. We could be in a similar predicament at any given time. Being a leading nation means that helping people is essential–especially countries that have shaped our history and who we are today. Already charities like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders are on the ground providing food, water, and medical assistance. Any and all donations are extremely important. Please donate using the links below and send this e-mail on!
The State Department has set up a cell phone donation link: Text "HAITI" to 90999 and you will be charged for a $10 donation to relief efforts.
Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (http://doctorswithoutborders.org/)
Red Cross (http://www.icrc.org/)
OXFAM America (http://www.oxfamamerica.org/)
United Nations World Food Program (http://www.wfp.org/)
To check the reputations of these charities or find more you can visit Charity Navigator. (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1004)
Thanks for all your support and remember to spread the word!