The Fast and Comfortable are Complaining

"The aid is never fast enough for the armchair aid workers sipping their lattes."
STEVE MATTHEWS, spokesman in Haiti for World Vision, on the critics who say that aid has not gone to Haiti quick enough; blogs and social networks have questioned the response to the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake

Oooooh, now that's a fierce bitchslap from someone who's actually there! Amidst all the clamor by bloggers and social network addicts for whoever is in charge to speed up the aid to the hapless victims, let's collect ourselves and think. Or as Kris Aquino has popularized with her interview last week, count to 10, or at least say you tried.

Now, as someone who is from the Philippines, a country with a social calendar that's incomplete without its at-least-once-every-quarter share of natural and man-made disasters, I could only imagine how difficult it must be to send all the help to Haiti. The Philippines is also surrounded by water, and the logistics of passing aid in that kind of situation is almost impossible. To send planes and helicopters full of aid is time-consuming and budget-draining. I mean, where else can Haiti get aid? From the rest (read: poorer) regions of the country? From the Dominican Republic, the only country that shares a border with them?

Yes, it is a foregone and mildly irritating conclusion that aid for Haiti would primarily come from the US. Of course, when the US headlines a cause, whatever it may be, results are expected to surface as fast as a McDonald's counter giving you your Big Mac and French fries. So, what to do Americans do when CNN and The Huffington Post report of the continuous suffering of Haitians? Complain via their blogs and social fora.

Well, well, well, isn't that just convenient? Now, before hurling a fresh batch of complaints, consider: if you donated cash to Haiti victims (like I did when the deadly typhoons hit this country), it should be understood that your cash goes through a process. Your money will be used to buy stuff. The stuff will be packed and transported, which will take a bit, considering the stuff will not be going through the Channel Tunnel or be transported by a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Once whatever stuff was bought with your money arrives in Haiti, relief workers need to sort through them again and they will be transported to where they are needed the most, which will take more time, considering the earthquake made Port-au-Prince's roads worse than rocky road ice cream.

So, I dare say, if you want fast results, results that you can actually see and experience for yourself, why not go to Haiti yourself and lift some bricks and recover some victims? I don't know how you're gonna go there, maybe take a plane to Santo Domingo and walk. Volunteer under the Red Cross. Ask Ricky Martin to lend you his private jet. But until then, if you think that your monetary donation gives you the right to yap the whole day and demand that the UN move their asses, you are unfortunately wasting your energies.

I knew a lot of people, in the midst of the two typhoons hitting the Philippines in the span of two weeks, actually move their own asses and distribute relief goods or use their surfboards to rescue flood-stranded people. In hindsight, I could only remember the actual victims complaining because they had the right to do so - after all, they were suffering. The rest were busy in networking with their friends on how to join a volunteer group and using their Facebook, Twitter and Blogger accounts to organize relief efforts. To summarize, everyone was too busy with their own thing to complain. People like me, who were a bit chicken to brave the chaos or were hampered by logistics to help and could only spare a few pesos, shut their holes and knew that the people actually doing something were heroes.

So, bloggers who can't seem to do anything but complain about how slow everything is with regard to Haiti while typing their entries in Starbucks, shush. If you want fast results, get your own asses moving and experience how it is to actually help these people in Haiti.

Until then, why don't you pray along with Pat Robertson?

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Don't even get me started with the Dominican Republic. Read "The Feast of the Goat" by Mario Vargas Llosa for more info. But before you get your underwear in a twist, the Dominicans are doing all they can, with even their congressmen pledging 10% of their salaries to the Haiti efforts. It's just that the road between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo has not been developed, with their nasty history and the mountainous landscape between the two capitals.

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