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Take time to help those in need

Originally published October 29, 2010

Americans tend to take a lot of things for granted.

Food, clean drinking water and a roof over our heads are things we have, but many around the world suffer without these luxuries.

But in places like Haiti, the suffering is only getting worse.

If you’ve been following world news at all lately, you’ve heard about the cholera outbreak in the already crisis-torn country.

As of Wednesday, the death toll from this easily preventable disease neared 300.

When I think of cholera, I see pictures of old-time America, people living in squalor and no modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and electricity.

But these are the pictures of modern day Port-au-Prince and other cities across the impoverished, earthquake-shaken nation.

The country, still recovering from the devastating earthquake that struck the island in January, is facing more hard times ahead as the people there struggle with yet another tragedy.

And although it’s been 10 months since the quake killed a quarter of a million people, Haiti is no where near recovered.

But the people there now face a new killer.

Symptoms of Cholera include vomiting and diarrhea. The disease is easily treated and prevented, yet Haiti has seen more than 4,100 cases

Agencies like Mercy Corps, an international aid agency deployed to help Haiti, are trying to distribute enough hand washing and water treatment systems to prevent the spread of cholera, but it isn’t helping.

A United Nations official told CNN the cholera outbreak is “an extremely serious situation,” and said even with treatment, Haiti could see “tens of thousands of cases” before this ordeal is over.

The people of Haiti have been persevering through terrible living conditions – more than 3 million people were displaced by the earthquake, and people in the nation’s capital are living in tents on the street.

Can you imagine if that was happening somewhere in America?

There would be public outrage on behalf of those affected, but the situation in Haiti is going unnoticed by the American public.

I know we are an ego-centric nation, but this is ridiculous.

The people of Haiti – and other war-torn, economically devastated countries – need our continued support. One benefit concert isn’t enough to truly help these people.

I know how cliche it is to say that even though you are just one person, you can make a big difference – but it’s true.

Something as small as donating blood or having a canned food drive can impact people all across the world. Just getting the word out on behalf of these people will do them a world of good.

No one was remembering the devastation in Haiti until its people were devastated by another tragedy. Just because a country has fallen out of the news doesn’t mean we should forget them.

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