On Tuesday of this week I went to a luncheon for International Medical Corps. They are a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. They are in 26 countries including Darfur, Somalia Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. Their workers risk their safety (and may times their lives) to provide relief assistance in natural disasters, places of war, and in impoverished nations. One of the things that I find most impressive about this organization (aside from the fact that they are extremely fiscally responsible) is that they enlist the help of local citizens -- doctors, nurses, teachers, mothers, fathers, students, anyone who is willing – to do this work. They teach people how to help themselves and others so that when IMC leaves, the situation does not go back to where it was. They build infrastructure and create communities that can come together and be self-reliant.
I have attended this lunch for 3 years now, and every time it is lovely. This year they had a relief worker that had been in Haiti after the earthquake come and speak. She is a nurse who lives in Arizona, but was born in Haiti and lived their until her early twenties. As this woman told story after story about the people she encountered I was reminded of just how long it will take them to rebuild there. And that is the case for so many places around the world. The media cycle in our country has the shortest attention span – one minute it is non-stop Haiti coverage, then the next is “storm watch 2010” or "Lindsay Lohan goes to jail" or "we hate the president" or "people aren’t picking up their dog poo in downtown LA" (seriously that was as story on the news this week, really?!). Once the next headline is blasted over and over, the last becomes a distant memory. Suddenly we are not hearing about Haiti or the Iraqi refugees or AIDS babies in Africa – it is out of our collective conscience, we stop talking about it, donations cease to be made, it’s like it doesn’t exist any more. Meanwhile, the people who are experiencing these hardships and those who are trying to help are working tirelessly just to make it through each day.
It made me realize that I need to make an effort to remember these things, to give consistently, to pray for these people, to talk about them, to read about them and not let their stories be forgotten. It is inspiring to see what comes out of war or disaster – to see how people come together to help their neighbors, even strangers who are in need. If people can do that in the middle of gunfire and devastation, then I can certainly do it in the middle of my VERY charmed life.
Please take a minute to read about International Medical Corps and the incredible work that they do. It is sure to inspire you too!!