Twenty-nine years after international calypso star Trinidadian David Rudder penned the hit Haiti I’m Sorry, the poignant lyrics reverberate now more than ever, following the passage of the powerful Hurricane Matthew.
It seems the resilient people of this French-speaking Caribbean nation simply cannot get a break.
Even as there were barely signs of recovery from the catastrophic January 2010 earthquake, the deadly cholera outbreak and years of political turmoil, along came the destructive Matthew to inflict further terror.
The destruction is staggering. More than 1,000 people are known to be dead or missing.
Aid officials say up to 90 per cent of some areas lie in ruin. The United Nations has estimated that at least 1.4 million Haitians are now in need of assistance as clean water, food, medicine and housing are in short supply.
Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who had a first-hand look at the disaster last weekend, said: “Today in Les Cayes, I saw utter devastation. I have heard from many victims. I have felt their pain. I understand their frustrations, even anger. It is heartbreaking.”
Haitians themselves echo similar sentiments of despair.
“My house was destroyed. I have nothing,” Melange Pierre, a young mother of two, told journalists from the Barbados-based Caribbean Media Corporation.
“We want food, not pictures,” said one young boy who was standing naked in a pool of muddy water at the foot of a ladder made of pieces of wood across tree branches, as journalists approached.
Simon Frantzy, who holds responsibility for a shelter in Jeremie – one of the two worst-hit areas – also painted a grave picture.
“We have a problem. There are children who are not well, there are children with the cold, children with fever; that means they need medication.”
If ever there was an hour of need, this is surely it. Haiti will need help and quickly.
And as we watch our brothers and sisters salvage the bits and pieces of their lives, Barbadians must reach out and help.
Already international donors with much bigger pockets have begun to send aid.
At home in the region, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, which was among the first groups to hit the ground in Haiti after the hurricane’s passage, delivered US$53 000 worth of emergency supplies this week.
But much more is needed.
It is for this reason that we at Barbados TODAY did not hesitate to team up with our radio partner Capital Media HD 99.3FM to host a radiothon to raise funds for the sister CARICOM member state this Saturday, October 22.
The event is being held in collaboration with the Rotary Clubs of Barbados, which raised just over a million dollars when they partnered with Starcom Network in a similar initiative in 2010, following the devastating earthquake.
The Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Republic Bank and others are also on board this time around.
The Radiothon will be broadcast from Capital Media’s studio at Limegrove from 8 a.m. and on Barbados TODAY’s online platform.
In the past, Barbadians have stepped up generously to assist Haiti and on this occasion we can do no less.
The passage of Hurricane Matthew on October 4 was a tragedy that we cannot turn our backs on. Haiti needs help and we can provide it, no matter how small.
Despite strong support for the initiative, some have ventured to ask if the money raised will reach those who need it most or end up in the hands of the corrupt.
That should not be an excuse for turning away. There are reliable aid agencies that do effective work, including the Rotary Clubs of Barbados.
The Rotary Clubs have a proven track record of ensuring that all finances raised are distributed to credible officials working to provide relief to affected Haitians.
The growing despair evident in the images we see must solidify Barbados, the Caribbean and the international community’s resolve to assist Haiti in the wake of this hurricane and beyond.
We can make a difference by giving generously.