Friday, December 6, 2013

Why do we have to choose? And how do we decide?

In the past month or two I've seen a lot of posts about relief work and relief donations.  I've seen some I've found to be almost offensive.  So I thought I would take a moment to offend inform people about a few things. 

I shall begin with a few stats. 

Phillipines Typhoon Haiyan

Some people may not be aware that prior to the Typhoon there was a decent earthquake, pretty much directly in the area where the typhoon hit. The death toll I last saw about October's earthquake there was 183.  (source) That being said, when the typhoon hit, there were about 350,000 people living in temporary shelters or tents as a result of losing their residence in the earthquake.  You can get an idea of what those generally look like by going here

Ok, so now you have a picture in your head of the pre-typhoon Philippines.  So imagine that a month or so after losing everything in an earthquake, there is a typhoon headed to your temporary home?!  Hard to believe right?  But it happened.  Death toll in Typhoon Haiyan is 5,719, and they are still having trouble recovering bodies, so it could be even more.  1,779 people are still missing.  Its hard to fathom.  (source)  To put this in perspective, in the town where I grew up, the number of people that died in the storm is like wiping out the population of both the public high schools, which have a combination of 5,748 students. (source and source).  Imagine what that does to an economy, damaged buildings and businesses aside.  What does that do to a community? And this doesn't even factor in the additional 1,779 people that just disappeared. 

Moving forward days after the typhoon another earthquake happens. ( source)  Then a couple of days ago another earthquake in the Philippines which so far has caused no damage, but will expose an already fragile country to additional aftershocks. 

So this is a rough picture, a very rough picture of what the Philippines has endured in the past couple of months.

Illinois Tornadoes

The American midwest has a historic outbreak of tornadoes. Illinois felt the wrath of 24 tornadoes.  In the state of Illinois 2 of the tornadoes were the strongest November tornadoes ever recorded for the state.  Six people died.  2400 homes were damaged or destroyed.  In the state of Indiana there were 28 tornadoes and no recorded deaths. (source)  

Both regions have been through so much.  Both deserve funds and support.  As an Illinois native I too was heartbroken by the devastation I saw on TV when I heard about the tornadoes.  I was touched by the rallying of my former neighbors to get donations and bring people what they need.  I couldn't go help so I shipped diapers.  I contacted companies to get them to donate.  I was equally, if not more upset by the complete destruction from Typhoon Hayain.  And helped how I could for that as well.

There is something that I cannot comprehend, nor can I let it slide, especially as a person of faith.  I can't reconcile the idea that help at home is more valid or important than help over seas.  Those who HAVE, have a distinct duty to help those in need, no matter where they are.  We do not live in an era where we have the luxury write off an entire nation because something is happening here on a vastly smaller scale.  When I see comments like, why is Facebook helping the Philippines? But they are not helping Illinois, something inside me shudders.  There is no room for small mindedness in charity.  Let's stop picking and choosing who is deserving of help and who is not, and let's just start a cycle of doing good wherever and whenever you can.  It really doesn't matter what it looks like when it comes down to brass tacks.  I'm so proud of the people I know that are ever ready to dive in and help, and I just really wish there were more people like them. 

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