By Mariela Cedeño
January 12, 2010, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Haiti, was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. An estimated 200,000 Haitians lost their lives, the capital city Port-au-Prince was brought down to rubble, and food, water, and housing infrastructure were not able to cope with the destruction.
Within 3 months of that first international disaster, Chile was also rocked by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake, a 7.2 earthquake struck northern Mexico, and a 7.1 quake hit China’s Qinghai Province. Despite their varying magnitudes, injury rates, and initial aid response, these international disasters have now mostly fallen out of media attention. The need for aid and reconstruction, however, are still substantially pertinent; In Haiti, as an example, 6 months after the earthquake that captivated national media attention, 1.6 million people still find themselves homeless, and thousands of ‘tent cities’ continue to form throughout the devastated island nation.
Through a very creative initiative, an organization called Un Techo Para Mi País [A Roof for My Country] is calling the youth of Latin America and now the United States, to become part of the movement to reconstruct the homes and lives of our neighbors. Their advertising campaign “Such Enormous Tragedies Are Felt All Over the World”, in particular, shows us what might happen if an earthquake hit OUR hometown: Buenos Aires, Tikal, or Miami?
By bringing the idea of what seems to be a far away disaster…home, UTPMP is calling us to move off our couches and into the communities that most need our help. With current campaigns focusing on Chile and Haiti, UTPMP’s 5 for Haiti program asks that 5 volunteers get together to raise the funds to pay for their flight, insurance, and 1 transitional house, and UTPMP will provide the logistical support to build the house as well as accommodation, food, and materials. Imagine if the University of California, Berkeley’s freshmen class totaling 4,356 committed to the 5 for Haiti program? 871 houses would be built in just 1 week.
That’s something to think about!
Sources: Christian Science Monitor, BBC, Al Jazeera, berkeley.edu