14 January 2010

Haiti needs help - be careful how you give it

My thoughts keep getting back to the people in Haiti for many reasons.  One is the damage that has occurred due to the earthquake this week.  Another reason is because I have long been questioning what has been going on with regard to aid in that nation.  As the news keeps announcing, they are the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. 

They are also a large recipient of aid from various nations and organizations throughout the world.  From 1990-2003 they received over $4 billion in aid.

I am by no means saying that they don't need help, but I am saying we really need to be thinking about and addressing what is going on in that nation and with the people trying to help them.

If you want to give them aid at this time, please read on and really look into what you are doing and who you are doing it through.  You can use charitynavigator.org and guidestar to check on the status and spending of organizations you wish to donate to or that you wish to know more about.

A lot of the aid they receive comes from Non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  These sort of organizations have a history of aid, but also are so large that at times they are not really giving as much money as people think to the "charities" they are supposed to be supporting. 

They are organizations who use their money to basically promote their liberal ideology.

They help those who they feel are less off than themselves.  It is the same as people in this nation who basically give money to charities.  They give money, they give water, they give food, they give used or new clothes -- all helping them to feel better about themselves.  If they give a little to help the lesser of those, then it does not really hurt for them to live in their fancy homes.  It is ok for them to eat at fancy places.  It is acceptable for them to by clothes, cars, and other items in excess.  

They provide aid, but are not really addressing the problem.  Most of these organizations are not doing anything to really solve the problems.  They are not helping the people to gain jobs.  They may help some one learn to farm (which is great), but they are not helping them to be able to transport their food to various parts of their nation so that they can help sustain more people.  

The typical solutions are not sustainable. 

Aid agencies and foreign governments often do not fully involve the local leaders in making decisions about what will truly help the nation succeed.

And with Haiti, although there were 28 countries gathered together spring 2009 for the International Donor's Conference who agreed to provide the island nation with $353 million to help reduce poverty, there is really not much to show for all the aid that has been given to them over all these years.

I believe it ties back to the start of the nation.  It is a proud history for them as the enslaved people of Haiti were able to overthrow their oppressors back in 1791.  They were named a republic officially in 1804.  They had been ruled by the French and the French were not easily going to give up a colony of theirs full of people they could force to work and build the imperial status of France.  They demanded for Haiti to pay the French government 150 million gold francs (which in today's dollars would be about $20 billion).  The Haitians spent over 100 years trying to pay this off since they felt it would help them become stable since they would gain acknowledgment and acceptance from the major powers if they completed paying the money out.

That is a lot of debt.  They still have a lot of debt to this day. The debt was at around $1.4 billion in the early part of 2009.  Last year, the US canceled $1.2 billion of the debt.  But that is after they have been working to repay that debt for so long. 

Think of what they could have been doing with the money they have had to be paying back to various nations.  Think of what they could have done to help their nation if they were not busy using (probably aid money) funds to repay nations.

Some nations, including Haiti have a history of some corruption.  

That is not an excuse for them, and it is not a reason to stop trying to help them out of their situation.  

It is a reason to have donors hold the government accountable to the money that is given to them.  

How do you keep giving nations money and the people see nothing from it.  

Like I said earlier, in just a 13 year period, the island of Haiti received over $4 billion.  Think how the people's lives could have been improved if that money had just been distributed to the people.  The nation is one that has not enough food produced on their land to sustain the people.  According to USAID 54% of Haitians live on just over 50 cents a day, unemployment is between 70-80% and over 40% of the people there do not have access to drinkable water.

Providing the people with health services is great, but we need to help them so that they can help themselves.  They need to be taught skills that will help them in the future to be able to build their infrastructure and develop jobs and have an education.  Most of the people there do not have higher than a primary education and only about 52% of the adults over 15 are fully literate.  According to the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, about 30% of Haiti's GDP comes from Haitians living and working abroad sending money back home to their relations.

They need more than just food and water and vaccines.

And they need it from more than the numerous nations that are supposedly helping Haiti.  Seriously.  Look at this massive list of NGOs that are said to be aiding Haiti in some way.  Look how many organizations there are, but what do they have to show for their "aid".

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs says that "[P]art of the problem begins with the widespread notion that over half of international aid goes toward NGO 'overhead' costs."

So be careful when you donate to some of these organizations.  They are basically taking your money and paying themselves with most of it rather than distributing it to the people they are saying they are helping. 

Makes sense with regard to Haiti's situation.  Look at that NGO list again.  If all of them are supposed to be giving money or some other sort of aid to Haiti, how is Haiti broke and still in dire conditions?

Also from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs site:
Roger Annis, of the Toronto Haiti Action Committee (THAC) professed that during a 2007 visit to the island, his entourage was repeatedly appealed to by locals to publically disseminate news of the failure of aid programs in order to bring about significant solutions to development issues. “I saw no evidence of Canadian aid programs reaching that desperately poor population,” alleged Annis. The underlying reason that aid is often ineffective is that it is simply not reaching the people on the ground. In addition to holding aid agencies accountable for their commitments, incorporating local communities into the decision of how best to use aid is an approach that could readily improve the effectiveness of the distributed funds.
The work being done is not really getting to the people.  The aid agencies are somehow getting donations, saying they are going to help, but really not doing much.

Top that with the different leaders of Haiti that have dug into the coffers and helped themselves to various funds leaving most of their people suffering.

Peter Mott of Interconnect Newsletter said of some of the aid missions that
With 9,000 soldiers from 42 countries, led by Brazil, the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) has spent $2 billion fielding armed patrols throughout Haitian poor neighborhoods to repress and intimidate the people, arbitrarily killing civilians, and sometimes sexually assaulting young girls and women.  In the meantime, the economic conditions worsen and the basic needs of the population remain unmet.
 There has to be a better way.

I hope that as you reach out to help the Haitians in their time of need, that you really think about who you are giving money to -- research the organization to find out what they actually do with their money.

Check out the video on Guernicamag.com about aid giving and its impact.

Here is some Haitian history from the Haitian Blogger and you can see recent updates on from the Haitian Blogger.

Another great link with information on the US involvement in Haiti is the Haitisolidarity.net - including information on Aristide.

Thanks for reading my rant.


Here is a link to some information on what Wyclef Jean has done with his donations in the past.  Just what I talked about here. Not sure if this is some sort of action to attack him and get people to not give to his organization or what.  I just hope that money gets to the people and the people that can help the people.

11 January 2010

I will look like a crack head by days' end

Today I did the unthinkable, the unforgivable, the inconceivable.

Last week I worked Monday with no students, and then had students only Tuesday and Wednesday.  It was a nice way to ease back into this teaching thing after winter vacation.

But it has thrown off my routine in many ways.  I am sleeping way later than I need to be for someone who wakes around 5:30.  I became adjusted to eating breakfast around 9 or ten, which means that I am not really that hungry at 6, so I don't eat a lot and then am starving by 9:30.  I am used to taking naps around 2, so when school gets close to being out, I am not sure if I will be fully capable of driving home adequately.

The worst thing of all, though is what happened this morning for which I will suffer the rest of the day.

I am a lover of hydration and a lover of moist, supple, hydrated, soft lips.

Unfortunately, I left home with no type of lip balm/Chap-Aid/lip gloss/Carmex/petroleum jelly/C.O. Bigelow lip shine.  I took out the spares over break to put in the bags I was carrying around.  For some reason I don't even have the spare I usually keep in the coat pocket.

Even when my lips are not dry, I apply product at least every two hours just to make sure that there is no possibility of crackage.  There is nothing worse than seeing people with dry, ashy looking lips.  Well, there is one thing -- having those lips yourself.

I am fearing for my sanity at this point.

I applied some generic vaseline-type product this morning before I left the house, but that was at 6:15.  It is now 10 and I am not sure if I can make it.

My lips are already feeling the pressure of not being moistened.  I am trying to up my water intake, but that seems to make them drier as the water touches these fine lips and evaporates.  I am tempted to lick them and purse them together to maybe force some moisture into them somehow.  I am hoping that at least when I have lunch, the extra grease from the taco-like lunch I prepared from home will be temporarily soothing.

I am not one to share lip products as I never know who has some sort of mouth ailment that they may spread to me through their product.

I don't have a prep hour today so can't even make a quick run to the convenience store nearby.

I may have to succumb and use that old method I saw on Oprah once about using the grease from the back of your ears or the side of your nostril to moisten your lips.  Though, upon checking, there is not much there since I am pretty adamant about scrubbing those areas clean and my skin has not been as oily as it gets in the summer time.

I really fear the cracks and tears, the pain, and the inevitable crack-head looking lips that could ensue with no relief to my lips.

By lunch time I am sure that I will not be able to smile or say words that require a lot of lip stretching.

I hope I can make it.

And I hope that as I drive home looking kind of tired, I don't get pulled over by a cop who mistakes me for a burnt-out-ashy-lipped-unsmiling crack head.

It was suggested that I apply lotion to my chaps.

Unfortunately I don't have that either.  I am hoping that I don't have to use the bathroom today and that I don't touch any students and don't touch anything that they have sneezed on and don't touch the railings as I walk down the stairs.

I am also hoping that I don't completely look like I have been punching flower by the end of the day.

I may have to borrow one of the students' over scented fruity/flowery lotions.

08 January 2010

Snow and windows

It has been nice being off these two days.  When it started snowing I was working the score table for the school's basketball game.  Got to see an old friend who coaches for the opposing team.  Nice.

The drive home and driving since has been ok, but there is one thing that really annoys me about people who drive in/when it snows/has snowed.

I understand that it is annoying to have to clean off the car if you do not have the luxury of a garage/car port/covered parking.  But, for real, it is not that difficult.

It bothers me when people don't wipe down the top of their cars or the trunk.  The spewing of dust is one thing, but when the stuff starts to freeze, it turns to ice.  I have had several occasions where I had ice crusts come soaring toward my car and had to swerve (almost causing an accident) to make sure the chunk did not break through my window.  I have had one occasion where I couldn't swerve and it did hit the glass causing a huge crack in the window.

Please, take the extra three minutes to dust off the whole car.  It's not like shoveling snow -- you will not have a heart attack by reaching up a little bit.  If you have an SUV, get a broom or stand on the entryway into the car.

Thanks, and I apologize for becoming that complaining old woman.

01 January 2010

My only look back... I'm moving forward

Happy New Year to all and I hope it is infinitely better than 2009!

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Spoke my mind more and put my foot down more with various people

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't make any last year, but I have some for this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What places did you visit?
Little towns in MO, and Houston, TX -- didn't travel enough.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

More money

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 20 -- Inauguration Day.  Pretty memorable for various reasons - one being that I voted for someone and they actually won for the first time in my voting career

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Can't really think of anything (that may be one goal for this year) -- I did post each day in November which was a big thing for me

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not communicating enough with friends and family

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Got my first sinus infection.  Regular
back issues

11. What was the best thing you bought?
New pair of really cute boots. More practically, a 
basement draining system.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Anyone who was selfless

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Politicians of various local and national levels; former coaching colleague

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food, bills, gas

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Seeing and being around friends and family.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Knock You Down -- Keri Hilson; not a favorite, but I do love "now I'm mad real mad Joe Jackson"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
a little bigger - though not much
c) richer or poorer?
a little more money - but not enough to make a big difference yet

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Hanging out with friends and communicating better

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Wasting time on needless
social networking agents

0. How did you spend Christmas?
With family and friends

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
Only more with my man

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Lost, Curb Your Enthusiasm, 1000 Ways to Die, Project Runway (though not nearly as good as in the past)

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don't hate... I appreciate (even the people I don't like teach me and help me grow)

24. What was the best book you read?

Didn't really get to read any new books, though I did get through Easier Said Than Done written by an old friend and The Slide
written by a high school classmate

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Finding out Sade and Corinne Bailey Rae were coming out with new CDs

26. What did you want and get?

A blender

27. What did you want and not get?
A lottery win

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Nine Queens (Nueve Reinas)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Hung out with friends and family.  Stopped adding when I turned 21.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Way more money and way more time and good times with friends

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
More put together, though still needing improvement

32. What kept you sane?

My man, my chiropractor, not reading the news regularly

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Don't care that much about any of them - if I have to choose one, then
Amy Goodman

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Inauguration, gay marriage, health care, war, Blackwater, climate issues, economic crisis, coup in Honduras, Nigerian trying to bomb plane

35. Who did you miss?
Various friends I haven't seen in a while; family overseas I haven't seen in forever

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Didn't meet to many new people (shame) but I am liking my new assistant coach

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.

I need to be more communicative and try to foresee the consequences (good or bad) of my actions; I need to figure out what I really want in life.  I was at a conference and heard an acronym that I am digging -- PUSH -- persist until something happens

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Just get back up when it knocks you down. (See #16)

I borrowed this idea from Chase After the Wind blog.