Sunday, January 2, 2011

Haiti: Then and Now

I appreciate Governor Palin going to Haiti and bringing some attention to the plight of the people there. It continues to be a heart-breaking, desperate situation. As we begin a new year, it is important that we not forget that fact. In that vein, I wanted to share two recent broadcasts about Haiti that have nothing to do with Governor Palin’s visit.

First, as we were driving home from Texas after Christmas and listening to NPR in the car, we listened to a report that explained in disturbing detail what has been going on in Haiti recently. The report sheds light on the flow of aid from international donors, the state of health care, the cholera epidemic and the recent election. One emphasis in the report was that Haiti will not be able to rebuild without resources and assistance from foreigners. For that reason, it is critical that we not forget about the needs of the Haitian people. The link below contains the transcript of the report.

The second broadcast was a repeat of an earlier episode of the Diane Rehm Show featuring Isabel Allende. I had actually heard the original broadcast of the episode, but it was fascinating to listen a second time. Ms. Allende was discussing her recent novel, Island Beneath the Sea. The protagonist is a slave in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which would become the nation of Haiti after the widespread slave rebellion that led to the Haitian Revolution. Ms. Allende spent four years researching the history and culture before writing her novel, and she shared a lot of interesting insights during her interview with Ms. Rehm.

Even before the earthquake last year, in the modern era, we Americans tend to think about Haiti as being such an incredibly impoverished nation. However, we are woefully ignorant of the nation’s history. Ms. Allende pointed out that prior to the Haitian Revolution, it was a land of incredible wealth and extensive resources. The riches of Saint-Domingue were cultivated via incredibly brutal oppression and inhumane working conditions of the enslaved Africans who were brought to the island. Ms. Allende pointed out that life was so miserable for the enslaved Africans that their life expectancy after being brought to the colony was only a few years. That unimaginable brutality created an environment where the slaves had a tremendous incentive to try to escape to just survive. This fed an atmosphere of constant terror among the Europeans who lived there. The interview with Isabel Allende is available at the link below.

Deuteronomy 26:12

" When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.”

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