Posted by: Aunt Magaidh | January 16, 2010

Turning frustration to action

As we all watch the struggles in Haiti unfold, we have the tendency to “vulture” – merely watching the dead and dying and waiting for the outcome to reveal itself.  This is apathy at its worse.  I watch people get depressed and then block it out.  I see this tendency in myself.  But then as I notice it, I get angry and frustrated.  Angry that I have the gall to get depressed, but not do anything.

Let’s face it, in these hard times, not everyone has magic pockets full of cash to donate to this worthy cause.  And some of us are wanting to DO SOMETHING to show we care.  If you are a search and rescue person, or a doctor or nurse , there are organizations that are mobilizing to use people with those skills.  If you can take the time and space to go, bless you.  But what about us ordinary people?

Yes, even if we can’t give a million bucks or don’t have a warehouse to collect goods to send (and the Haitians can’t even get at the goods that are arriving, too much debris between the ports and the disaster sites), we can VOLUNTEER.

This morning I signed up to volunteer with MedShare to pack donated medical supplies to be delivered to Haiti.  MedShare is a nonprofit organization who collects and redistributes “surplus medical supplies and equipment to underserved healthcare facilities in developing countries”  They have distribution centers in San Leandro, CA and Atlanta, GA.  Also, your local Red Cross may be looking for volunteers.

RESIST the urge to watch and wallow and then deaden to this crisis.  Even if you can’t get involved right now – physically or financially – use this opportunity to strengthen our communities locally and globally.  Get involved with local organizations that deal with disaster relief.  We all need to start thinking of how we can make a difference, if not for this immediate crisis, then for those that will inevitably come.

  • Take a CPR class – many local agencies offer free classes.  (Yes, I need to sign up for a refresher course).  Check with your local Red Cross, city hall, adult school, recreation center, or fire department.  Sometimes knowledge is more than power – sometimes it is life.
  • Put together an emergency kit (earthquake, blizzard, tornado, hurricane, etc.) for your household: water, food, clothing and medical supplies for a minimum of 3 days.  (A tarp or tent wouldn’t hurt).  Being able to take care of yourself for a few days is important while waiting for help to arrive.
  • Go meet your neighbors and start a neighborhood watch – official or unofficial.  When disaster strikes,  knowing who is around you and who needs or can help is important.  I know who is near me, who may need help moving, who may be working or at home, who has kids.  (This information is crucially important during evacuations or trying to find people after a disaster.) Communities are about watching out for each other.
  • Go to the local school and ask the principal if there is an emergency supply project that needs to be updated and supplied.  Ditto the local recreation center.  Often these places become relief centers during disasters.
  • Check with the local food bank.  Start or give to a food drive at your office, school, coffee shop, hiking group, church, whatever.  Food banks are dealing with an ongoing crisis of hunger, especially in these hard times.  (We need to remember that this is a crisis, too.)

One of the things I’ve learned about vultures is the symbolic messages associated with the birds.  Many people think of vultures as omens of death and bad luck.  But there are other meanings for vulture.  In some belief systems, Vulture is seen as a teacher and healer.  By taking death and eating it, death is transformed – the carcass is cleaned, disease removed, and space is made for rebirth .

Let’s stretch our big, black wings and fly.


(If you do have pockets with some cash available, please give to Doctors Without Borders, The Red Cross, and/or MedShare.  Thanks.)


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