Posted by Bronwyn
We don't usually let my 10-year-old son, W, watch the evening
news, even when he is up late enough to see it. But the coverage of
the disaster in Haiti is everywhere and it would be impossible to
keep him from hearing about it.
Haiti has brought up some tough questions from W, as well as
some very adult concerns.
Last year his school participated in a service project to build
a well at a school in rural Haiti. A teacher from Haiti came and
spoke to the kids about how a well at the school would provide safe
drinking water for the whole village. After the project was
complete, the teacher returned to thank the kids, bringing pictures
of his students getting water for their families from the new well
and talking about the school.
All of the kids in W's class felt a real connection to that
faraway school. Not only did they feel a sense of accomplishment at
how their individual contributions had helped other students, they
also realized how fortunate they are and how easy it can be to help
Now W is worried about those kids and that school. I told him
that the earthquake mainly affected Port-au-Prince, the capital
city, and that 'his' small village is probably all right.
But then he asked why they were so poor. If so many countries
were sending things and trying to help, why did the news say things
weren't getting better? Why did 'that man' (Pat Robertson) say that
Haiti made a pact with the devil? (Thanks a lot, Pat.) W was
shocked that anyone would say something like that.
Those are difficult discussions to have with another adult, let
alone a child. It is a sad reality for a child who has never really
suffered in life to have to come to terms with the fact that
sometimes, despite attempts to help, it might not be enough. Some
things may never be fixed.
Finally I told him that trying to help Haiti was like raising
money to build the well. Having that well won't solve all
the problems that village has, but it helps the kids whose families
use the water, in a little way, every single day.
Sending money, food, medicine and doctors won't solve all of
Haiti's problems or make things better for everybody there, I told
him. But if even one person is saved by a recovery team or gets
medical treatment or has clothes to put on, safe water or food to
eat, then your small contribution has helped that one person. And
sometimes, that is just the best we can do. Saying it isn't
'enough' might be true, but it is no excuse to do nothing at
That seemed to satisfy W. But I still had to explain about Pat
Robertson and the devil. That conversation would take too long to
go into here ...
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