Thursday, September 11, 2008

Time for action

With the horror stories coming out of Haiti, most of us just feel so helpless.  Even if we send money, it still doesn't feel like enough.

The orphanage we're adopting from sent out an urgent appeal asking all of us to contact our political representatives.  According to a fellow missionary, there are supplies on the ground in Gonaive but the UN forces have not been handing them out.  Paul Farmer of Partners in Health mentions something similar.  Aid agencies have been SLOW to respond and the UN forces initially refused to hand out supplies because of "fear of riots".  

Time for action.  This is something I can do.

So, I emailed several of my political representatives in Canada.  Imagine my surprise when my local Member of Parliament actually called me.  Instead of blasting the local government in power for their lack of action (isn't that what opposition politicians do?) , he took this opportunity to educate me on Haiti.

They have the most corrupt government in this hemisphere.
The Haitian government doesn't allow aid groups to respond and truly help.  Do I remember the response of the Burmese government just a few months ago?

So, this was my opportunity to educate.

Canada donates to Haiti and in fact, it is the 2nd largest foreign contribution Canada makes.
Therefore, Canada has a huge amount of leverage, unlike Burma, and this is the time to use that political leverage and demand action.
The UN force in Haiti is a military force and should be able to manage the threat of riots in order to save people's lives.

His response.

Oh, I see you know a little about Haiti.  I just wanted to respond to that.

My response.

I just want my political representatives to use Canadian leverage to save lives before it's too late.

Thank you. Have a good day.

Now, this is where I fell short.  I should have point blank asked him what he intended to do.  Ugh... I still need to learn a little bit about action.  Because that's what I wanted... action... not an education session.

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