What Happened in Haiti?
Remembering the forgotten as we help the Philippine People
By Enrique Olivo, Grade 12 student at Neil McNeil High School
Almost four years ago to this day, the world saw the disaster that was the Haiti Earthquake. Reaching a catastrophic magnitude of 7.0, the tragedy claimed upwards of 150,000 lives. In response, the community of Neil McNeil High School launched a massive campaign to collect funds for the relief effort. Entitled “Hands for Haiti,” the Catholic all-boys school located just south of Kingston Road and Victoria Park raised thousands of dollars through its grassroots fundraising efforts.
Founded upon a vigorous tradition of social justice by the Spiritan Fathers in 1958, the school has had a long history of responding to humanitarian causes around the world. And as all eyes turn to the damage done recently by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Neil McNeil has once again found itself helping the victims of yet another disaster. However, as the money and support continue to pour in for the victims of the typhoon, the memory of the earthquake resurfaced in the Neil community. One thought in particular made itself quite uncomfortably clear: “Whatever happened to Haiti?”
Some words that came to mind immediately upon asking myself this same question are the lyrics sung by Drake in the Young Artists for Haiti version of Waving Flag. He says, “How come when the media stops covering, and there’s a little help from the government, we forget about the people still struggling and assume that it’s really all love again?” Indeed, it seems as if the world has forgotten about those who still suffer from the damage brought on by the quake. Although hundreds of millions of dollars were pledged, and many parts of the nation have been rebuilt, there is still so much to be done and this school community intends on telling this to all who will listen.
Primarily through the Young Spiritans, a social justice group that continues the mission of the school’s founding fathers, the school has already begun planning efforts to give back to the nation that it raised its hands for in 2010. Phillip Cummings, the school’s chaplain and moderator for the Young Spiritans says, “There’s so much more to our efforts than simple charity work. We’re always trying to deliver a deeper message. This time it’s that just because the world has forgotten, it doesn’t mean that we should.”
As important as it is to focus on our own lives, and as easy as it can be to ignore what the cameras aren’t focusing on, we really never should forget about the less fortunate. Especially as the Christmas season approaches and we get caught up in the rush of consumerism, I hope this message finds its way into all of our homes: giving is perhaps a lot better than receiving.