1 Month After the Quake

(AP Photo/Javier Galeano)

Friday marked one month since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.  It was one month ago that many Haitians lost their lives, lost loved ones and left thousands homeless.

On January 12th, I remember feeling in my heart that I had to do something.  I automatically texted Yele to give a small donation to Yele Haiti.  I prayed and prayed for days for peace, for understanding, for trust in God for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.  I followed blogs. I watched news coverage from dawn until dusk.

I am much more engaged in social change now than I was when Katrina devastated our brothers and sister living on the Gulf Coast, and as I watched the tremendous response and relief efforts to the disaster in Haiti, I couldn’t help but question how long it would last.

The power of the internet in connecting millions of people and making us all global citizens is a marvelous thing. I’ve followed as people have turned social media into tools of advocacy.  Just check out Shaun King’s twitter stream, and see the devotion he and others have put into organizing a mass campaign to get tents to Haiti before the rainy season begins.  Just yesterday I was introduced to a young Haitian artist, Saskya Sky, who won the “One Minute to Shine” contest on Black Planet and donated her $1,000 prize money to relief efforts in Haiti.  I can only have gratitude for everyone who is doing something, anything, to help in the relief and rebuilding efforts.

I was moved to write this post after a friend asked this question on Facebook:

Please tell me why no one is talking about Haiti anymore…as if all the problems over. The olympics should not be the only thing on the news………
I couldn’t escape her question because I have fallen guilty to the paradigm of resuming life as normal.  I think about our brothers and sisters in Haiti every day, I pray for them every day, but what have I done one month later to help? While many people’s lives will never be the same after January 12, 2010, many of us have resumed life as usual – including me. I can only pray the Lord forgives me.
My own desire to serve in Haiti has not subsided.  The organization I am planning to work with has decided to stagger their efforts throughout the region, and will not be coming to the southwest to do the necessary training until later this Spring. Their reasoning is they don’t want to send everyone at once and not have anyone else to send – as we all know Haiti will need sustained help.
I will continue to pray for my brothers and sisters in Haiti.  Although life for me and you does go on, I promise to carry their struggle in my heart so that in my own daily life, I don’t forget just how blessed I truly am. I feel a connectedness to the people of Haiti like I’ve never felt before. Thank you for your resilience.  Thank you to all the servants and relief workers in Haiti. Thank you to all the servants and activists here in the U.S. and thank you for the gut-check that we must not stop talking, we must not stop praying, we must not stop doing – because we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

A Servant’s Prayer

This prayer is taken from the daily devotional “Called to Conquer”. As I go out each day to increase my service to all of mankind, this is the perfect prayer to guide me.

Lord, I tremble every time I sense You calling my name. Speak, Lord, I am listening. If someone is hurting and You want to heal his pain, send me. If one person, family, village, or nation is struggling in darkness and You are ready to send light, use me. Only know from the beginning that I know I am weak and that You are strong. Speak to me, lead me, send me; but send me in Your strength. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Do Better: How many more children must die?

Last week, while skimming a few posts in my inbox, I read a headline titled “Denver boy, 9, died after state-benefits error denied him asthma medication“.  As I gasped, I felt like I was reading a repeat story from 2007.

(Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

In 2007, 12 year old Deamonte Driver died because of a lack of adequate dental care.  I can remember making the numerous calls to dentists in Prince George’s County who were listed as Medicaid dental providers.  I can remember hanging up the phone time after time completely frustrated. The response I received from over 60 dental offices:

“No, we don’t take that insurance”.

In the meantime, a little boy was suffering.

So when I read the headline from last week I became furious.  How many more children must die in America, yes AMERICA, because of systemic failures?  The state of Colorado FAILED this little boy, just as the state of Maryland failed Deamonte.

After Deamonte’s passing, advocates got pissed.  The Public Justice Center refocused its Health Rights Project to raise awareness  of the realities poor children face in accessing dental care. Dentists and advocates came together to work out solutions to keep an atrocity like this from ever happening again.

So how does the grief and outrage felt in Maryland three years ago help prevent other tragedies like Zumante Lucero?  How many more children must die in vain before we hold state governments accountable for their failure to deliver safety net programs they are required to deliver by law?

I get even more outraged when state officials come out with their insensitive remarks, as in this:

“the death of any child is a tragic loss,” said spokeswoman Revekka Balancier. “And our department tries very hard to prevent these kinds of tragic accidents.”

Yes Ms. Balancier, Zumante’s loss is tragic. You know what else it should be? Illegal. His death was 100% preventable if your department had not failed him.

Story of Inspiration: A 3 year old serves

Posted at: 02/01/2010 9:20 PM
By: Misa Maruyama, Eyewitness News 4; Taryn Bianchin, KOB.com

It’s a gift from the heart.
Three-year-old Mylyn Beakley told her mother she wanted to help people in Haiti after she saw children without limbs on television and jumped into action.

Her mother Heidi Beakley was shocked. “She just went flying into her room and pulled out her leg… which I was keeping for a keepsake.”

Her father is a soldier in Afghanistan and recently learned Mylyn wanted to give away the leg she had outgrown.

“(Mylyn) told him on the telephone and he was just in tears crying,” recalled Beakley.

On Monday, she and her mother went to Active Life Orthotics and Prosthetics to donate the limb so it could be shipped overseas.

The staff there considered the offering unique because a lot of children are undergoing amputations in Haiti, but there aren’t as many children donating little prosthetic limbs.

Mylyn was the first child to donate a prosthetic limb to Active Life.

If you want to help, you can drop off a donation at their office on Alvarado near Central, Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 p.m.


Doing Your Part to Serve Haiti

Ever since January 12th,  my heart has been beating for the people of Haiti. It has been beautiful to watch the wave of love outpouring for this resilient nation. I have been moved by the strength of the people and inspired by the prayers, activism and hard-work many have been doing on the ground and at home.

It has been beautiful to watch people take regular activities and turn them into activities for good.  A friend mentioned that her normal salsa class is holding a fundraiser tomorrow night, and all proceeds will be going to relief efforts in Haiti. We’ve seen the amazing Charlie Simpson (above) ride his bike and raise more than $160,000 in a single day.

So what is it that you enjoy doing that you could use to serve the people of Haiti?  Now is the time to reflect on all you have and to realize you are your brother and sister’s keeper.

“The voice telling you that you cannot do something is always lying.” (unknown)

Photo: Associated Press

How Do You Serve?

I am inspired by the beautiful people I connect with every day.  Whether they work for a non-profit organization, blog about politics, tweet about their love of Christ or are just cool by nature – I am inspired a million different ways.

Please comment on this post and share how you serve.  We all must pay our “rent” so whether you think your service is big or small – please share.  I look forward to being INSPIRED by you.

Story of Inspiration: Why do you do what you do?

Why do you do the work you do? What inspires you to live a life of service.  I enjoyed this article by Sheelin Prinzinger who tells why she chose to do what she does.  I believe we all have our own story. 

I recently read “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert.  In it she says every person and every place has a single word that describes it.  My word is SERVICE.  What is your word?