Monday, October 4, 2010

Dear Senator Coburn

When I lived in the States I was a news junkie. I always needed to know what was going on. To some extent that changed when I moved to Haiti. A lot of the things that pass as "news" in the states isn't really worth getting worked up about in the broader, global context.

However, when I was home during the summer I was dying to know what was happening in Haiti while I was gone. Call it separation anxiety. During that time I established a daily email of news stories about Haiti (thank you, Google Alerts!) this has led to some interesting readings. Rarely do they move me as much as this one.

The $1 billion that the US has pledged to rebuild Haiti is tied up in Congress due to one senator's disagreement about how $5 million of the total package will be spent: on an adviser to USAID. He feels the current advisors are enough.

I admire Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's commitment to fiscal responsibility but he is holding up the entire rebuilding effort of Haiti over a tiny fraction of the bill's budget. To me that seems morally irresponsible.

Today, in my Comparative Government class, I will be sharing this story with my students and inviting them to join me in emailing Senator Coburn's office asking him to stop obstructing this piece of legislation. I have already emailed him and I would ask that you do the same.

Click here. Then fill out your information and ask Senator Coburn to stop blocking the aid that the USA has promised to rebuild Haiti.

Goodness, you could even copy and paste that previous sentence into the comments section! It is mindless and would take you less than a minute.

Perhaps if Sen. Coburn, who is a doctor and says he's a Christian, came to Haiti he could see how much the country could benefit from the money. Mr. Coburn clearly could use a face to go with all of the poverty and need in Haiti right now. I would love to introduce him to Woogina, Sarah, Keishna, and everyone living in the Champs de Mars and Place Boyer in tents and tarps. Maybe then he would not stall the rebuilding efforts, because he would see how great and immediate the need really is.

For further reading: AP News. I also liked this blog's take, if only because it provided a link to a Daily Show clip, a show I dearly miss here in Haiti.



  1. Thanks for making it easy to send him a comment. Done!

  2. I got ya B! Went ahead and sent a little something over...miss you guys!

  3. Ben,

    I can tell you wrote this post out of genuine love and compassion for Haiti. Your heart is grieved over the extreme poverty conditions that people have to endure every day. I have seen extreme poverty face-to-face as you have, and I grieve with you, which is one reason I read your blog (even though I don't know you or Katie personally). My life goal is to work to alleviate poverty.

    I differ with your blog post on one point: government-to-government aid is not the "solution" to Haiti's poverty. The side effects of government aid can actually prolong poverty because it's given with strings attached. Haiti has received a lot of government aid in the past, and yet has remained very poor. Why? Will more aid help?

    The most thorough book I've read on this topic is "The Trouble with Aid: Why less could mean more for Africa" by Jonathan Glennie. It would be interesting for your students--the future leaders of Haiti--to read this book and discuss the applications to Haiti.

    To clarfiy, I'm not saying our government should give zero aid to Haiti. What I'm saying is that $1 billion from the US (or any country) might not be as good for Haiti as we think it will be.

    My hope and prayer for Haiti is that G-O-D will redeem and bless Haiti...with or without aid from the US. God doesn't need our government's money to help Haiti!

    Psalm 20--revised for Haiti (a psalm of David) "In times of trouble, may the Lord answer Haiti's cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep her safe from all harm. May he send her help from his sanctuary and strengthen her from Jerusalem. May he remember all her gifts and look favorably on her burnt offerings. May he grant her heart’s desires and make all her plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of Haiti's victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God! May the Lord answer all her prayers. Now I know that the Lord rescues his people. He will answer them from his holy heaven and rescue them by his great power. Some nations boast of their military and money, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm. Give victory to Haiti, O Lord! Answer our cry for help."

    Looking forward to seeing God's hand at work in Haiti,

  4. Great - I typed up a reason-filled message to the Honorable Senator, only to get an error message when I submitted the form! Oh well, I'll try again...

    Thanks for the info.

  5. Ruth,
    I appreciate your polite counter point. I love knowing you work to eradicate poverty it lets me know we have a similar calling. However, I feel the level of need in Haiti is beyond what one private organization or even hundreds of private organizations can meet. The scale of devastation is such that only other governments have the resources to meet it. That is the difference between previous aid and this aid, the earthquake

    I agree with your statement that God can fix this but we disagree on how. The problems in Haiti can be fixed by the appropriate application of money. Rubble cannot be cleared with out trucks, gas and workers, materials for homes cost money. God has provided with the funds the international community has pledged to Haiti. Now those funds need to be delivered.

  6. Ben -

    To me, it seems like the real culprits are the politicians who inserted a redundant, superfluous government position into a bill designed to help the people of Haiti.

    Love you!

  7. I agree with Peyton. I'm sickened that people don't miss a trick on trying to make money off sad situations like the Haiti earthquake.

    But...for the sake of getting the needed funds to Haiti soon, I don't think this battle is worth holding up the rest of the funds. My prayer will be that the funds will be used to actually rebuild Haiti and won't be misused by any government entity.

    Love you guys



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