Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arawak for “mountainous."

Today is the birthday of writer Edwidge Danticat, who was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1969. The Writer's Almanac quotes her as saying this, "Writing was forbidden as dark rouge on the cheeks or a first date before 18. It was an act of indolence, something to be done in a corner when you could have been learning to cook." She has written beautiful novels and even her prose reads like poetry.

Here are some quotes by her that I enjoy:

"Love is like the rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you're not careful it will drown you."
~from Breath, Eyes, Memory

"Their Maker, she said, gives them the sky to carry because they are strong. These people do not know who they are, but if you see a lot of trouble in your life, it is because you were chosen to carry part of the sky on your head."
~from Breath, Eyes, Memory

She also said this:

"I think Haiti is a place that suffers so much from neglect that people only want to hear about it when it's at its extreme. And that's what they end up knowing about it."

Unfortunately, this is one of those times. Luckily, there are plenty of ways we can help out:

* Visit the Red Cross's website to find out how you can donate money, supplies, or blood, or how you can organize or volunteer for a drive.

* Text "HAITI" to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross. (The $10 gets added to your next phone bill.)

* Text “QUAKE” to 20222 to charge a $10 donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

* Text "YELE" to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yéle Haiti fund.

* Make a donation at your local Publix. You can tack on any amount as a monetary donation for help and supplies at the end of your transaction; just ask your cashier. (I'm sure other grocery stores are doing similar things--just ask.)

* CNN's Impact Your World has a comprehensive list of relief organizations so browse around there.

It's been a week since Haiti, a nation already plagued by poverty and unrest, suffered the worst earthquake in the Caribbean in over 200 years. I don't even really know what to say, so I'll close with another all-too-true quote from Edwige:

"As rich as this country is, most Americans are very limited in their interaction with the world, unless the world comes to us in a very shocking way."

Maybe after this, we won't forget. Maybe we'll get so used to reaching out our hands that we'll keep them outstretched.

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