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Commentary: Haiti still needs attention

Kristen Campbell, News Editor

Kristen Campbell, News Editor

I know what you are all thinking, “The United States is already in Haiti helping the citizens after the earthquake. Why are you writing this article?”

After attending the screening of “Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy,” I was writing my article to report on the event and I found myself wanting to put my own opinions into the article, which is not allowed.

The film showed scenes of poverty and lower-class neighborhoods, which is expected due to the subject of the documentary.

What tugged at my heartstrings was the way the piece was put together. There was not a main voiceover telling a recap of what each woman spoke about, but rather the women themselves telling their story to the camera with merely a subtitle as aid for our understanding.

As each woman described their day-to-day struggles, from a first-person perspective, I felt for them. Due to this one-on-one organization of the film, I sensed a connection with the women.

Renée Bergan, co-producer of the film, told the viewers at the close of the screening that Haitian people could buy resources to start their own business for currency that is equal to $25.

Upon hearing this, my heart dropped and I stopped taking notes.

As I kept listening, I learned there are loan sharks that give the people money to start their businesses, but with such high interest rates, it discourages them from even giving commerce a second glance.

Twenty-five dollars! It literally kills me to think how often I can spend $25 just on a whim, and a Haitian could use that money to start a business that could help feed their families and keep living the life they have been given.

I planned on spending a minimum of $20 to $30 on a new swimsuit for the summer, but I am now thinking otherwise. After seeing the film and listening to Bergan, I wanted to donate money to the cause.

Yes, we’ve all bought a cookie at a bake sale for a dollar or threw in five dollars at another fundraiser. But were we ever conscious of where our money was going?

We know the money is going to “a good cause,” but where does it go from there? Some charities that are aiding in helping Haiti are wasting what we thought was going to “a good cause.”

Of those $5 you donated, five cents is sent toward Haiti. Where does the rest of the money go? Seventy-five cents of every dollar donated to these “scamming” charities is spent on hiring U.S. workers to go to Haiti for the relief effort.

Why give $5 to a charity if you do not know how the money will be used? Why not spend the extra 30 minutes looking for trusted relief committees to guarantee your donation will be put to good use?

I encourage everyone to read about where their donations are being sent. If the charity’s Web site is not specific, find another one.

If you do not know where to begin, Bergan and her team have a list of trusted charities on the film’s Web site,
potomitan.net.

Haiti still needs our help. They needed it before the earthquakes and they need us now, more than ever.

Kristen Campbell, a freshman journalism major, is news editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at kristen.campbell@laverne.edu.

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