Just as personal tragedy can wake us to long-ignored issues in our own lives, global tragedy can rouse awareness to problems and struggles that have long been ignored by the world. The needs of orphans are nothing new in Haiti. Estimates prior to the earthquake put the number of orphans at 380,000. This number is sure to greatly expand in the wake of the earthquake. Until now, however, the hundreds of thousands of Haitian orphans woke little notice in other countries beyond small pockets of advocates, ministries and others focused on the country. The earthquake’s tragedy, however, has turned the world’s eyes to this small nation, long the poorest in the Western hemisphere—and especially its orphans. An AP News Story that just hit the wires captures this new attention well: “Haiti Quake Creates Thousands of New Orphans.”
Of course, the weeks ahead will see a slow attrition in the number of cameras and reporters in Haiti, and as they leave they will take with them a good portion of the world’s short attention span as well. However, we have every reason to hope that commitment to Haiti will remain, long after CNN and Fox News have moved on. It’s a remarkable and little known fact that the number of volunteers serving in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina actually increased in the second year after that tragedy. Let’s pray the concern for orphans now being woken in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake will have that same kind of staying power—stirring the powerful immediate response that is now unfolding, and carrying forward for years to come.
See CBS report on the growing number of orphans in Haiti here:
CBS Report on Orphans in Haiti
And a CBS photo essay on Haitian Orphans here.