Haiti - OT
In 1981 I was heavily involved in Scuba diving. Through good luck and providence this led me to one of the last places on Earth I would have ever thought of visiting -- Haiti. Before its 1985 revolution Haiti was, for the few, mostly European tourists lucky enough to visit, a paradise. For divers it was beyond paradise. Lush coral reefs visited by fewer than a couple of dozen people a year. (In contrast to 50,000 a year in places like Grand Cayman.) Steep underwater vertical walls that began in five feet of water and dropped to half a mile. Magical forms of life that I've never seen elsewhere in the Caribbean in abundance the the waters of Haiti. It was magical.
In those days Baby Doc Duvalier and his thugs the Tonton Macoutes apparently were doing some fairly nasty things to stay in power. But the overwhelming majority of the Haitian people that I came to know over 16 visits are, simply put, the sweetest, most gentle and generous people I have ever known.
Haitians were, and no doubt for the most part still are, Third World innocents. They showed me time and time again that the default condition of people not influenced by "modern society" can be kindness and honesty. I saw it in villages without a single locked door -- "Why would anyone take something that does not belong to them?" was their logic. I saw it in kids who refused any kind of tip for running to find gas when my car ran out. And I saw it in the respect they had for one another as well as for visitors like me.
Bad policies beginning with the French colonists selling them back their country in 1803 have been devastating. Weak, corrupt and on occasion evil leadership has kept the country in poverty. Parts of Haiti, like downtown Port-Au-Prince were wretched -- imagine two million people living without a public septic system. Now situations like this are obviously far worse after the earthquake and aftershocks.
Haiti will re-build. This time with a modern infrastructure. And hopefully with help from those of us with riches far beyond what the average Haitian could ever imagine.
So, fellow bovines, please help. If you've already made a donation, thank you. Now please consider giving again. If you have not yet donated please visit:
Be as generous as you possibly can. These are fellow human beings. They need our help and they need it now.
In the past week I have spoken with at least 3 surgeons who were preparing to go to Haiti to lend a hand. I know one doctor in particular who has spent weeks there in recent years doing surgery for the locals. Another surgeon I know spends weeks at a time in remote locations not only doing procedures, but teaching the local practitioners to do the procedures themselves.
I agree that we should help out however we can.
In the past week there have been news stories about cruise ships continuing to visit Haiti for recreation, despite the disaster. Back in 2003 my Royal Caribbean ship stopped at Labadee for a day. Oddly the itinerary called it Hispaniola - the original name from the days of Columbus - as if to hide the fact that we were visiting an impoverished failed state.
The locals who were working at the isolated beach resort area were all very kind, albeit desperate for my dollars. I did purchase some hand made trinkets, some of which I have hanging on my office walls. In a way, I would rather purchase items from local vendors than snowglobes and coffee mugs from China.
Knowing what I know now, I think supporting the local populations at resort destinations is a good idea, assuming they really get to keep the money. Should cruise ships visit during disaster recovery? If it can be guaranteed to support the locals and provide jobs to people who would otherwise be destitute - why not.
Haiti has a long road ahead. They deserve our help. But like governments in other parts of the world where western nations have intervened, we need to make sure that the money goes to the people who need it and that the government remains on the up and up.
As for the Help Haiti Now telethon, to relate this thread to our professions, I think it was well done, and amazed at the number of celebrities who volunteered. Oddly enough some of the actors who served as on-camera hosts seemed to be the same people appearing on late night shows to promote their movies. For example, Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon appeared together. Sure, they are friends and both care about those in need, but they do have a movie getting Oscar buzz. Seemed a bit fishy even if that was not the intention.
It was cute that they zoomed in on Spielberg, Julia Roberts and other A-listers as they chatted with ordinary folks who had made a donation. Again, I give these folks credit for stepping up and no doubt donating millions of their own dollars. But honestly, watching Spielberg make smalltalk with someone over the phone was a bit uncomfortable. I hope he donated some of his 2 billion dollars to the cause. I'm going to make a donation right now.
[Mike Cohen] "Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon appeared together. Sure, they are friends and both care about those in need, but they do have a movie getting Oscar buzz. Seemed a bit fishy even if that was not the intention."
It just may be that they are "in active contact mode" with one another, too. Talking on the phone, they may have breached the subject while talking about other things, and just said, "Why not?"
I hope that is what it was and not something more self serving. When I see that, it makes me wanna test how well my rabies shots are working on someone's hiney.
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[Cowdog] "It just may be that they are "in active contact mode" with one another, too. Talking on the phone, they may have breached the subject while talking about other things, and just said, "Why not?" "
The entire Haiti show revolved around George Clooney, who has more "juice" than anyone else in Hollywood at this moment in time. The celebrities and musical talent were all there at his personal request, and none of them wanted to disappoint him. He has enormous charisma, and somehow they all consider him a close personal friend. Just pulling that off requires a talent that very few in this world have ever possessed.
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