Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Heart for Haiti

On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook the nation of Haiti, resulting in untold devastation to this impoverished but hopeful country. The news of the catastrophe weighed heavy on my heart. I have traveled to Haiti three times since 2002 as part of a medical mission team. Working with the Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti, I had been planning a return trip for January 23 before the earthquake struck.

All of the pictures and stories covering the devastation can’t help but move us emotionally. Most Americans have not had much exposure to conditions in “Third World” countries, so it is hard for us to comprehend what is described. The reality is that many of these conditions existed for the majority of the Haitian population long before the earthquake struck.

Haiti has long been a country lacking adequate resources. Imagine for just a few minutes what your life would be like without food today…without the ability to read or write…without running water…without electricity. Many of us would struggle to make it through a day, let alone a lifetime, without what we see as life’s necessities. Haitians have faced these struggles their entire lives.

It may seem that such a situation would be hopeless. However, I know from my visits to Haiti that hope is the one thing that most Haitians do have. You may have seen news reports of Haitians singing in the midst of the devastation. Singing is a frequent response to troubles in Haiti. They have a joy that comes from deep within and doesn’t have anything to do with what they don’t have.

Many of my Eat’n Park coworkers have asked me, “What can I do?” or, “Can my money really make a difference?” Perhaps you have asked these same questions. Your contributions to relief efforts, no matter how small, will make a difference. And if you want to make a bigger impact, you might commit to making a monthly contribution to a non profit organization with a history of working in Haiti. Many of these organizations have been changing lives in Haiti for years.

At Eat’n Park, we have joined forces with the American Red Cross to make donating easy for our guests who want to make a contribution. Now through January 31, you’ll see collection jugs in our lobbies, where you can donate to the “Haiti Relief and Recovery” fund. The American Red Cross will use these donations to provide immediate relief assistance and support in rebuilding the nation.

As for me and the mission team I serve with, we are planning to reschedule our trip as soon as Haiti is open to groups other than first responders and surgical teams.

If you feel called to help, stop in to any Eat’n Park to drop off your donation, or click below to get more information about donating through the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/) or volunteering through the Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti (http://www.flmhaiti.org/).

Sincerely,

Mary Gregg
Manager, Leadership Development
Eat’n Park

Above: Students at FLM's school in Haiti, before the earthquake.

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