Letter to the Editor

By Margaret R. Beegle

The situation in Haiti is still dire, ten months after the earthquake. In Common Dreams.org, lawyer Bill Quigley reports that only 15% of the pledged assistance has arrived, only 2% of the debris has been removed, and more than a million Haitians are still homeless. As the press has recently announced, the specter of cholera and other cruel plagues is looming.Last spring, Macalester College students, faculty, and staff raised in the range of $20,000 for Partners in Health (founded by convocation speaker Paul Farmer) to do its life-saving work in Haiti. It is time to look again at Haiti and decide what we as a community can do to nurture the people of that stricken country.

Before the earthquake, I had thought of a project to ask each Macalester student for $1, each staff member for $5, and each faculty member for $10, in order to start a “Macalester Tree Nursery” in Haiti. That is all it would have taken. (There is a mountain named for Macalester, why not a nursery?) Then the earthquake took 230,000 lives. Now the “fortunate” ones, many crippled by falling buildings, are still suffering in refugee camps and facing terrible problems with hygiene. Disease becomes almost inevitable in such circumstances.

Because of the immediacy of the crisis, I would now like to raise money for Partners in Health. My plan is to be downstairs in the Campus Center on Monday, Nov. 8, from noon to 1:00, and on Friday, Nov. 12, from noon to 1:00 in my office, 301 Markim Hall. I will ask for $1.00 per student ($2.00 if you wish to cover someone who can’t contribute or is on Study Abroad) and more from faculty and staff. I will also have a mini garage sale of books and other sundry items. There will be a letter available for people who want to write brief notes of solidarity with the people that Partners in Health is treating.

This is the promise of “community.” We can help each other out in simple but effective ways.