UPDATE: East’s Coalition group has teamed up with the Student Council and SHARE to raise money for relief efforts in Haiti. “East Ships to Haiti” will begin on Jan. 25. All donations will be going to Heart To Heart International, a major relief organization based in Olathe, sending supplies to Haiti.
Donation jars will be in the counseling office, the main office and on the fourth floor by the main stairwell all week. StuCo and Coalition members will also be collecting in the parking lots and during lunch on Thursday and Friday. Officials will also be collecting money at school activities such as the musical Footloose and sporting events (minus the Rockhurst game which is Coaches vs. Cancer).
On Tuesday Jan. 12, the already-impoverished island nation of Haiti was hit with a magnitude—7.2 earthquake, the most catastrophic natural disaster to hit the region in over 200 years. More than 3.5 million people have been affected by the immense destruction; according to Haiti Relief Kansas City, officials have reported that the death toll could reach and easily exceed 100,000, whereas others argue that the number could climb above 500,000.
The Red Cross has stated that the effects of the earthquake have left over one third of Haiti in need of emergency care. The organization has released an additional $9 million dollars, on top of their initial $1 million, toward bringing basic supplies to the country. The Red Cross posted an update in their newsroom that, “As of January 16, the American Red Cross has raised more than $87 million for relief efforts.”
The electricity in Port-au-Prince went out Jan. 12, leaving the city in complete darkness by nightfall. Arthur Brice of CNN wrote that, upon visiting the capital, “sirens could be heard at times, but the predominant sounds in the pre-dawn darkness were the shouts and screams from the thousands of people who spent the night in a dark park across the street.”
Entire towns were leveled by the shock waves, leaving families crushed or severely injured by the rubble and survivors calling out for help. Ted Ledwith of UNICEF wrote that rescue teams have had to “comb the rubble” for victims. Major roads, neighborhoods, crowded hospitals and schools crumbled to the ground, leaving the survivors with nowhere to turn. Thousands of people have resorted to sleeping outside in the open to avoid a temporary shelter being destroyed in one of the numerous 4.5 magnitude aftershocks that have shaken the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
On Wednesday, an aftershock totaling a 5.9 on the Richter scale, hit the capital at 6:03 a.m., waking those who had been sleeping outdoors and causing those who had gone to seek refuge to flee from their trembling shelters. According to the Huffington Post, the tremors lasted only seconds, but successfully sent thousands into panic. On Monday, the NY Times has stated that “even after an aftershock, the biggest danger facing survivors was untreated wounds and rising disease.”
The Haitians have lost the basic supplies they need to survive, namely clean water, food, medical care, and bedding, forcing many survivors to use garbage bags as makeshift beds as they sleep on the streets, going hungry. The number of victims has been growing steadily since Tuesday, and CNN has reported that “the streets were choked with pedestrians and residents.”
The Associated Press released the devastation in numbers Saturday in the Huffington Post: “People in Haiti needing help: 3 million. Bodies collected for disposal so far: 9,000. Number of people being fed daily by the United Nation’s World Food Program: 8,000.” The State Department has said that there have been 16 Americans confirmed dead, with thousands of others marked as missing.
Charity organizations as well as prominent Web sites have taken up the responsibility to promote the cause. The word ‘Haiti’ has earned a spot as a trending topic on Twitter and a section called ‘Spotlight on: Haiti’ dominates the homepage of YouTube. Facebook groups and pages such as ‘Haiti Earthquake Relief Kansas City’ and ‘Haitian Earthquake Relief’ provide links for users to easily donate to the nation in need.
Haiti Relief Kansas City, a local charity, provides the opportunity to donate online as well as gives instruction on how to put together a care package. By texting the word ‘HAITI’ to 90999, one can donate $10 to the cause, and by visiting the World Vision website, a donation of a larger amount can be made. The nonprofit organization UNICEF is also accepting donations, giving 100 percent of the money donated to earthquake relief in Haiti. According to the New York times, as of late Sunday the Red Cross had collected pledges of $103 million, about $22 million of which came through the text-messaging program.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has created a Web site for family members in Haiti and abroad to help search for their missing loved ones. As of Sunday morning, more than 21,600 people had registered on the site. Users can post pictures and information about missing persons and rescue teams in Haiti do their best to find and confirm the location of each person.