Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Donors urged to do the right thing


There is a popular saying, ‘A promise is a comfort to a fool’, which warns against trusting in the assurances of others. For many, mankind is too fallible and trust should therefore be placed in God alone. Still, what kind of world would we live in if a man’s word could not be trusted? In the final analysis, you are a sum of your thoughts and actions. A man is who he says and shows he is.

In light of this, it is disheartening to hear that four-and-a-half years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, only half of the money pledged to aid in the relief, recovery and repair efforts has been handed over. This revelation was made by that country’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who implored those in the international community to honour their commitments and deliver the nearly five billion dollars outstanding.

The PM took great pains to explain that the funds collected so far have already been used constructively to rebuild entire neighbourhoods and house some of the 1.5 million people who were without housing after the earthquake. He added that Haiti, with its meager resources, even constructed 3 000 homes and rebuilt another 4 000. However, at present 125 000 people still live in tents, and have been doing so for approximately 54 months.

It is true that countries all over the world are experiencing real economic hardships as a result of a global recession. For many, the state of their economies may be altered and it may not seem possible to deliver on sums promised. It is difficult to be charitable when you or your own may be suffering and need help yourselves. Yet, it is crucial that states keep to their word or, where possible, assist in any other way relevant; for instance extended periods for disbursement of funds, or a waiver of payment for services given would also be useful.

Haiti needs the international community to step up to the plate and do the right thing. When considering economic hardships, none could be greater than those faced by that country over the years, being burdened with a debt of 150 million gold francs by France (later reduced to 90 million) for the audacity of fighting for and gaining their independence. Haiti kept to this commitment and repaid France for 122 years until their debt was cleared in 1947, so why wont other states do the same and keep their commitments? Surely their situations are not as dire as Haiti’s?

After the earthquake, there was an outpouring of goodwill. These gestures demonstrated the wonderful spirit that characterises humanity. At that time religious, political and ethnic differences were put aside and the love for humankind shone through in displays of kindness, charity and unity. In a world where economic hardship is prevalent and environmental disasters frequent, it was heartening to see that generosity existed. Let us prove that it still exists today. Though a few strides have been made in Haiti’s rebuilding, it is certainly not sufficient. It is time for those who pledged to put their money where their mouths are.

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