Tag Archives: poverty

Would You Vacation in Haiti?

They have now confirmed over 150,000 deaths in Haiti. The massive earthquake injured and/or displaced thousands more. Families are still looking for lost loved ones, food and water are scarce, and many people sleep without shelter. The situation in Haiti is heartbreaking.

It’s hard to believe that less than 100 miles away is a tropical paradise. Labadee, Haiti is one port of call for the Royal Caribbean International cruise line. Kayaking, scuba diving, lounging on the beach, endless buffets, etc. Truly, a remarkable place. My question is:

In light of the devastating earthquake, would you continue on your vacation to Labadee? Or, pretend your Royal Caribbean, do you still use that port?

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does proximity matter? Many argue that it’s wrong for vacationers to be partying only miles from the devastation. That seems valid. We wouldn’t go have a party near a funeral. On the other hand, what’s the difference between someone sipping champagne in Labadee than in Michigan? Life has “gone on” in other places so at what point is it viable to use Labadee? How far do you have to be away to begin normal life? 100 miles? 200 miles?
  • Is tourism helpful? Royal Caribbean is donating $1 million in aid plus the revenue generated from Labadee. Each ship is also packed with relief supplies. Vacationers are also encouraged to buy from the local shops. That seems helpful. On the other hand, could the money just be donated aside from vacationing?
  • How much time? Some argue the port should not be reopened until the country is out of rescue mode and into recovery. But the question here is: What about those in other parts of the country who are still trying to run their businesses to keep Haiti afloat? Is Labadee and the money it provides crucial to holding the country together? If the ship doesn’t go to Labadee it will go elsewhere. Is it better to just go to Labadee?
  • Does the size of the disaster matter? Haiti has been devastated. No question. But what about other parts of the world? People are hungry, thirsty, sick, and without shelter everyday. Yet, we vacation as normal. Where’s the line?

The issue is more in depth than is possible to cover. There is no easy answer to any of these questions. I’ve read several stories where people have decided to go on the cruise. They said when the boat stops in Labadee they’ll just get off and spend some money and get back on the ship. I’m not sure what I would do.

Is it right to vacation in Haiti right now? Does it help more than hurt?

What are your thoughts? Would you go? Should Royal Caribbean still be offering trips to Labadee? Are there other questions to think about? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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Little Man, Huge Results!

Apparently little guys can do big things! According to MSNBC, Jonathon Slack, a seven-year old boy from the Chicago area, raised four TRUCKLOADS of food and toys for a Chicago shelter. Put simply: WOW.

You can read the story on the news site. I don’t want to steal their words and just rehash it. Instead, I just want to offer some thoughts I took away from reading about our young hero.

First, what he did was hard difficult impossible easy. I’m big, bad Becoming Last guy and this kid just did what I have started and gotten side-tracked doing twice! He saw a need, printed some flyers, gave them out, and bam! Four truckloads! I get caught up in making the flyer perfect, getting all my ducks in a row, and he just stepped out and did it. There’s something to be said for planning, but there’s also something to be said for just doing it. What he did was something we could all do.

Second, it got personal. Jonathon’s mom said he had never shown empathy for this type of thing before. It all developed after seeing a homeless woman outside of Macy’s. It got personal for him. I think we all have up these layers of protection from things like this. We’ve built thick skins from seeing impoverished people on TV, in magazines, and homeless people on the street. Poverty and hurting people are just a category that is out there. It’s part of life. But when an issue hits you personally, it changes you.

Third, start small. Yes, he got four truckloads. But he only took ten days! 10 days = 4 truckloads! I think we sometimes feel a little overwhelmed when we think about serving or giving. Don’t feel like you have to end poverty or hunger or homelessness or whatever your cause. Just start small. He made flyers. He gave people 10 days. Look what happened.

Fourth, just do it! Yeah, so I robbed Nike’s old slogan and that’s lame, but I’m serious. If you have an idea, do it. Pursue it. Get a few friends together. Hold a family meeting. You don’t have to get your church’s backing or the backing of an organization. Sure, they can help and that could come later, but don’t be paralyzed by the mindset of, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t lead.” Just start small. Whatever it is you are passionate about, it is you that has the passion and just like Jonathon, you can make a difference.

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Unleash Your Inner Nerd!

If you know me well enough or have followed my blog long enough, you think are fairly certain know beyond a shadow of a doubt I’m a nerd. I admit it openly. I like books. I like crosswords (even ones where I have to look up stuff and learn! ugh…). My wife and I play Scrabble on Facebook…while sitting in the same room (I know, I know…).

If the above doesn’t prove my supreme nerdability, check this out. At a New Year’s Eve Party…yes, a New Year’s Eve Party, I got sucked into figuring out the probability of something happening in a game of farkle (I thought about trying to explain myself at this point, but there’s no use…nothing can explain doing statistics on New Year’s Eve…although I did get the problem right!).

You may also know I care about helping people. At heart, I’m a very selfish person. I catch myself being selfish all the time. But I try (and this blog helps) to serve others as often as I can.

Which brings me to FreeRice. I recommended this site a long time ago, but I completely missed a key part of the site! What? I said I’m a nerd, not observant! 🙂

FreeRice lets you play a game answering vocab questions and for every answer you get right they donate 10 grains of rice. That may not sound like much, but with a ginormous (you may think that’s a new vocab word, but I learned that from the movie Elf…)  amount of people playing, 63,672,800 grains of rice were donated yesterday. That’s awesome.

Now, the part I missed. What I didn’t realize was you can change from vocab to all kinds of different subjects: Art, Chemistry, English, Math, Geography, even foreign language learning! The nerd in me is as excited as this woman.

So instead of playing another game of Bejeweled, Mafia Wars, Zuma, etc. take a swing at the FreeRice game and help spread some free food to those who need it.

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The Other Side of Life

I found these photos from a newspaper blog. There were others, but these two captured me.

A child searches for recyclable material in India.

Child laborers in a balloon shop in Bangladesh.

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A Secret No Longer

I’ve mentioned before how this blog has begun to change the way I see the world. This past week has highlighted another ugly aspect of our humanity that has been operating in the dark for too long. As you’ll read in this story, there was a five year-old little girl named Shaniya who went missing last week. People from all over North Carolina were alerted to watch out for her.

Unfortunately, Shaniya was not just lost. She had been given over to a horrible and growing problem, human trafficking. Her body was found this week and it turns out they have arrested her mother whom police believe offered her for prostitution. And she’s not alone. According to the article:

Kinnaird said if Shaniya was involved in a sex trafficking plot, she is among other victims in the state. “Many of them are Asian women and children. Many of them are Hispanic women and children. But as we saw to our horror (possibly with Shaniya), they are now homegrown, and may have been all along,” she said. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, roughly 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States annually. Victims are forced into sex and slave labor.

I’ve just begun to read up on this topic so I know very little about the extent of this kind of stuff worldwide. It’s one of those things that you know goes on, but we just become accustomed to sweeping it into a corner of our mind. It’s like when you clean your room as a kid, you just throw it all under your bed and it won’t bother you there. But this stuff is real and it breaks my heart that little children are sold or taken into slavery or for sex on a daily basis. Can you imagine how scared, lonely, and broken these children must feel?

If you want to read more, I’ve begun looking at this website. I’m sure there are others if you google or bing them. That’s just the first one I came upon.

I hope you’ll take time today to read a little on human trafficking and at the least, say a prayer for the kids who are suffering as we speak.

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Sometimes A Picture Says It Best

Always Remember the Least of These…

 

This post is part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival hosted by a blogging buddy. This week’s theme is Remember. Check out the rest of the posts here.

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Dirty Water

This photo was taken by charity:water in central Africa. Photos like this always floor me. I can’t imagine filling up my Nalgene bottle with this water or serving it to my son to drink with his dinner. It baffles me that people live in conditions like this. Children drink that water filth.

That’s why simple things, like clicking a SocialVibe widget (on your right), matter. Sure, there is more to do, but our little clicks are more significant that we understand.

dirty water

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