Tragedy steals tomorrow and crushes the souls of those affected. For those who experience such incredible loss, happiness becomes a thing of the past.
Perhaps I’m getting too soft to be a newspaper reporter any more. I would have hoped that after more than 20 years in this business my skin and psyche would get tougher, but that has not been the case. Every time I cover or watch a tragedy, such as the earthquake in Haiti, I fall into an abyss of emotion.
Reporters are supposed to be able to put their feelings in some place that isolates them from the pain of their story subjects in much the same way an emergency room doctor must conduct herself in order to treat a terribly injured person. I’ve tried but have never perfected that technique. Maybe it’s a good thing to still be able to feel someone else’s pain, to know what it means in human terms to experience and live other people’s losses, to feel genuine empathy. Somehow it makes the story more real and less voyeuristic.
Tears rolled down my face as I gazed at the photo of a young boy wailing over the body of a woman I supposed was his mother. The look on his face tore a crater in my heart. It hurt to the core to imagine that boy’s pain in real terms. Or the photo of the hand sticking out from under the rumble of a collapsed building in Port au Prince, knowing it was likely the dying act of a person who desperately wanted to survive. These aren’t just story subjects, or photo fodder for the news services. They were real people with lives, families and friends. I’m sure they fully expected to get up the next day and go off to their everyday activities, like you or I would, but an act of nature changed all of that.
Tragedy steals tomorrow and crushes the souls of those affected. For those who experience such incredible loss, happiness becomes a thing of the past. Those who’ve tried to glue these broken lives back together come to know that once a piece goes missing, it’s not easily replaced. But thank God for those Angels of Mercy who do it anyway, knowing that the end result may not be achieved, at least psychologically.
In these days and weeks after Haiti’s earthquake, people in the Tri-towns will invariably find ways to help, as they always do. But I caution you as to how you do that. There is next to no infrastructure left standing in Haiti. Roads are buckled and littered with debris. Airstrips are crippled. Utilities are non existent. Only two hospitals are still open in Port Au Prince, a city of 2 million people, and they are overwhelmed, as one would imagine. And there is a degree of lawlessness as people resort to nefarious means to get access to what little is available to them. Beware of fly-by-night “heart tuggers.” It’s hard for good people to imagine, but there are those out there who will try to profit from tragedy. The American Red Cross and recognized church organizations are some of the safest ways to donate money to help the people of Haiti.
In my paper, The Sentinel, we wrote this week about the Bergeron family of Rochester and their adoption of three Haitian children. It is an incredible story of how when love, conviction, and action come together beautiful things happen. Armand and Kathy Bergeron went to great trouble and expense to change the lives of not just the three children they adopted, but all the children at “Hope for the Children of Haiti” orphanage in Port Au Prince. Please visit the orphanage’s Web site at: www.hfchaiti.org to learn how you can help rebuild the orphanage after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.
Plymouth resident Chris Reagle is the editor of The Sentinel. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.