Today, Harrison, my five-year-old, and I talked about the crisis in Haiti.
I started off by asking him if he had heard anything about it. He wasn't in school on Friday, but I know he has heard us listening to the radio news and discussing the stories we've read. We don't watch TV so he hasn't seen the pictures on the news, but he did come into my office last night as I was reading some news online, complete with pictures.
"Have you heard about the earthquake in Haiti?" I asked him.
"Oh sure," he replied, "we learned all about earthquakes and volcanoes in school. And we have our volcano books here."
"But do you know about the one that happened in Haiti?" I asked again.
"Where's Haiti?" he asked.
We looked on our map and then I got out some books we have here, plus we've come up with a list of books to look for at the library.
Then he asked "why did the earthquake happen?" So I pulled out a few of our books on earthquakes and volcanoes. "If there's a volcano," he said "a lot of people will die."
So I took a deep breath and explained that a lot of people had already died because of the earthquake and a lot more could die soon because they can't get to doctors or get food or water.
"Why did the earthquake really happen Mom?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why did God let the tekonic (sic) plates rub together?"
"I don't really know, honey. Sometimes God can't stop something from happening or sometimes He lets things happen so that we can show how much we trust him and love him by accepting it and taking the challenge to make it better."
Some of our books gave us ideas to help make it better:
Josephine's Imagination: A Tale of Haiti: In this story Josephine uses her imagination to come up with a toy she can sell at market to help her mother.
After reading the story we talked about using our imagination to come up with ideas of things we can make and sell to raise money - the kids would like to make a little broom doll like Josephine does. So mommy has to look into that.
Sasifi helps her mother sell oranges at the market and in return is given some money to buy herself a treat. Instead of candy or toys she buys herself and her mother a trip home in the "tap tap," a truck that operates as a bus.
This story allows the opportunity to talk about selling food for money (a bake sale to raise money, perhaps) as well as children helping their parents to make money and the idea that "treats" don't have to be candy.
Some books we are going to try to read and maybe get ideas from:
This story follows the lives of children made homeless by the political instability in Haiti who then end up on the streets of Port-au-Prince and build themselves a new home: one that is also destroyed. Written 6 years ago, it is evocative of what many children are going through now - with shelters and orphanages destroyed by the earthquake. In the story, the children band together to create their own family and survive the hardships, going on to become advocates for all street children. I hope that reading this book will help my children understand that there is always hope. After reading it, I expect we'll find out more about Haitian orphanages and see what we can do to help through donations or child sponsorship.
This book explores the persistence of one boy in planting a fruit tree to celebrate his sister's birth. His efforts grow as his neighbours and future generations also plant trees in "circles of hope" for more children. I'm hoping that reading this book will show my children how we can inspire others with our own actions.
Other Ways to Help
This week's Gift to The Earth challenge asked you to help with the relief efforts in Haiti in some way. Although most organisations are asking for money for the first-wave of relief efforts, you may not have much money available to give. I know for me, the amount of money I can afford to send right now doesn't feel like enough.
So I've begun looking into other ways to help using my talents instead of my finances.
I gave some basic ideas on the Week 3 challenge, here are some more:
Artists for Hope have been selling art and craft items for a couple of years to help a children's rescue centre in Haiti. Now the need is even greater. Donate items to them to sell through their Etsy or Ebay shops. Spread the word about their efforts by downloading this button for your own blog.
I went back and looked at SouleMama's old "Caps for Cap-Haitien" project. By the time I had heard of this at the beginning of this year the project had closed. But the partner in the project, Konbit Sante is still looking for all kinds of donations including things like gowns and cloth diapers that you can sew.
If crafts aren't your forte but you can run like the wind, check out their Compete for Konbit program.
In our city, a Haiti relief concert and silent auction is in the works for this coming Friday. Perhaps there's a similar event in your area? If not, perhaps you have the connections to make it work!
One word: Pray
Okay, I'll add to that. I know some of you don't pray or believe in the power you're supposed to pray to or the power of prayer. If that's the case then use whatever you use instead of prayer - meditate on Haiti, think about the people there, send good thoughts, light a candle, whatever it is you feel has power.