In the weeks since the earthquake in Haiti the world has come together to aid the devastated county. Donations have poured in from around the globe. Every Web site seems to have a link to donate to a charity, the Collegian’s Web site included, countless celebrities have donated money and asked others to do the same, and there have been numerous star-studded benefit concerts.
Even text message donations raised millions of dollars. On the K-State campus numerous organizations have raised money for Haiti; a rave held on Jan. 23 raised more than $1,400 and donations in the K-State Student Union the week following the earthquake raised over $400. As of Jan. 28 the Chronicle of Philanthropy estimated the total amount raised by American non-profits exceeded $585 million, and this doesn’t include the enormous amounts pledged by governments and donated by citizens of other nations.
Haiti undoubtedly needs this aid desperately. Haiti’s president Rene Preval said 170,000 bodies have been counted so far, and millions of people have been left homeless and without access to food or safe drinking water. I applaud the fact the world has taken notice of the immense tragedy that occurred in Haiti, and are doing everything in their power to help those who so badly need it.
That said, I think there is a grim truth behind this outpouring of donations. It seems to take a natural disaster for human beings to come together as a species to help people who are in desperate need of foreign aid.
Massive influxes of donations following natural disasters is a common occurrence. In the nine days following the Asian Tsunami in 2004, Americans donated $163 million, and the total donations to victims of hurricane Katrina totaled $5 billion, according to CQ Researcher.
Unfortunately, in general, Americans’ donations to charity are quite limited. If we account for the fact that the top nine percent of American earners donate 40 percent of the donations to charity in this country, then the rest of us are only donating a little more than 1 percent of our income, according to CQ researcher.
This number doesn’t seem unjust until we consider a few other facts, however. The U.S. is the wealthiest nation on earth and every day 14,000 children starve to death, according to the U.N. This means that in the time since the earthquake in Haiti, more 294, 000 children have starved to death in the world.
That number is almost incomprehensible; 294, 000 children dying the most horrible of deaths. 294, 000 children who could have lived if only someone had given the money needed to feed them.
The grim truth is every day millions of people in this world find themselves in situations every bit as dire as the people of Haiti and every day tens of thousands of them die. As members of the wealthiest nation in the world, we have a moral obligation to help these people. We cannot wait for, or expect, the U.S. government to aid them.
Events like the Haitian earthquake have proven that when we come together as a species, we can raise tremendous amounts of money that can have dramatic influences on the lives of those in need. However, it shouldn’t take an earthquake or a hurricane to make us take action. Just as the efforts of the American people to aid the victims of this earthquake prove, when we make even the smallest of sacrifices personally, the collective impact can be tremendous and we can save millions of lives.
If it took you three minutes to read this article, about 30 children starved to death while you were reading. That fact alone should be enough reason to be charitable, earthquake or not.