U.N. peacekeepers from Sri Lanka distribute water in Leogane, Haiti.
I've been thinking a lot about the earthquake and subsequent suffering in Haiti. I've thought about preparedness and have wondered what lessons could be gleaned and which troubles avoided by paying attention to what is happening there.
After a lot of thought, I would like to recommend two things (beyond your prayers):
First, donate to the relief effort. I was struck by the recent instruction that preparedness is not just about taking care of ourselves, but it is also about taking care of others. Elder Robert D. Hales said "It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and that goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance." (A Gospel Vision of Welfare: Faith in Action, Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance, World Wide Training, February 2009).
We are truly rich compared to most of the Haitian people. Each of us can sacrifice in some way to help. It may mean waiting a little longer to finish your basement. It may mean going out to eat a few times less this month. It may mean sacrificing the amount you spend on gifts this year. But I really believe Heavenly Father gave us all that we have so that we can help others. If you are unsure of where to donate, I can recommend either Red Cross or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Emergency Response (100% goes to help). Our family agreed unanimously to take money from our basement-finishing fund and donate it to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - Emergency Response.
Second, store more water. The most fundamental need of those affected by the earthquake was and still is water. Jenny Fyall from The Scotsman quoted Jimitre Coquillon, "a doctor's assistant working at a triage centre set up in a hotel car park. 'This is much worse than a hurricane. There's no water. There's nothing. Thirsty people are going to die." A foreign aid worker told Reuters, "Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency."
I've thought a lot about my own water storage and have asked myself some questions. Would I be able to access my water in an earthquake? Do I have portable containers with which to transport water? Do I have water in multiple locations to increase the likelihood that I could access it? Do I have enough water stored? After asking these questions, I personally decided to store more water in my basement. I already have water in my garage and cars - but I don't have an alternate water location source. So last night I filled my first PETE bottle and my son added it to our storage shelves. Ask yourself the same questions and find some way to increase your water supply.
In both of these suggestions, you can do a little or a lot. Even a little more water stored or a little money donated could make a huge difference.