After eight days of turmoil and despair from the massive 7.0 earthquake that shook the island of Haiti on January 12, Haiti gets hit again with a 6.1 aftershock, to complicate things even more.
Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, is facing devastation after devastation. Bodies are being thrown in mass graves without any burial rituals and pictures of these bodies that may identify them to their families are non-existent; people are surviving off of energy biscuits and little water; injuries and illnesses are so overwhelming and if not treated will worsen; victims have to fight for necessities. Despite the growing relief efforts from people around the world, the reconstruction of Haiti and the welfare of its inhabitants will take years of global aid and support. After all, Haiti did not reach this state overnight. In the past, America helped play a part in its economic demise.
History with the U.S. (The brief version)
In 1778, a regiment of free black Haitians fought for America's freedom in the Revolutionary War's "Battle of Savannah." In 1804, Haiti declared its independence from France. A couple years later, the United States Congress boycotted Haiti and imposed a trade embargo on the newly independent nation that forbid U.S. Merchant's from doing any business with people whom "it is the interest of the United States to depress and keep down," the bill states.
Despite opposition, the bill passed on March 3, 1805. Consequently, Haiti did not receive U.S. recognition until 1862. Due to the countries' severe economic deficit along with its political strife, the United States intervened in 1905, yet again and occupied Haiti for 19 years forcing its inhabitants in slavery.
In March of 1987 Haiti drafted a constitution, but Haitians experienced many more years of political upheaval and dictatorship. It was not until 2004 that Haiti developed a new democracy and was on the road to a slow recovery-until now.
What does this all have to do with you?
- According to a 2008 Census there are approximately 530,897 Haitian Americans living in the U.S.
- There are currently over 2,000 Haitians living in Tennessee who have been affected by this tragedy.
- Over 3,000 Haitians live and work in Nashville, TN.
What you can do to help, or if you need help finding a loved one:
- Call Congressmen Jim Cooper. He is working with the State Department to identify and locate all Tennesseans who are missing. His office number is 615-736-5295.
- To connect with the State Department, call 1-888-407-4747.
- Donate to the American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/. A $10 donation is forwarded to Haiti through the Red Cross when you text "90999."
- Contact the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.http://www.tnimmigrant.org