I’ve been thinking and praying about Haiti a lot since the earthquake about a month ago. I was recently alerted to this article explaining the present housing situation for those who lost their homes. Click through to see full details, but I’ll summarize: The international aid community had originally been planning to give tents to tide these families over until more permanent shelters could be erected. That plan, however, has been deemed too expensive, so in lieu of tents, the Haitian homeless will receive… tarps. As in, the plastic blanket kind of tarps. As in the, “Here’s a plastic blanket; have fun through hurricane season” kind of tarps.
Basically all because it’s too expensive.
Now, I’d believe it if I was told that there are other reasons that shaped the decision to scrap the tent plans. The optimist in me really hopes that it didn’t simply boil down to the bottom dollar. Of course it is crucial to get something to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. But I cannot fathom why it seems okay, at any level, to stick people outside with nothing but a tarp and feel like we did them much of a favor. Sure, a tarp is better than no tarp, but a tarp is just barely a step up from nothing at all.
I then thought about how victims of hurricane Katrina were relocated into not just tents, but trailer homes. I wondered what the news reaction would have been if FEMA had tried to make our U.S. citizens tough things out in un-air-conditioned, electricity-less tents — much more so if they would have handed them a sheet of plastic with a shrug and advice to get creative with how to stay dry under it.
I’m pretty sure the media would have had a heyday with that one.
So what’s the difference? Read the rest of this entry »