A Helping Hand

There are some terrible scenes appearing on our TV screens from Haiti where an earthquake, the worst to hit the country in over 200 years, has devastated the capital Port au Prince. It seems the poorest countries or the poorest regions within rich countries suffer most from earthquakes, once termed class quakes because of how focussed they were. We know of course that earth quakes as natural phenomena don’t discriminate in the sense of going after one person more than another. But the affluent build structures that make quakes less likely to inflict the type of devastation that we have witnessed in Haiti.

Strangely enough the one piece of footage to send a shudder through me was of black males running through the streets wielding machetes. It conjures up frightening images of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Then the thugs of Hutu Power stood at roadblocks hacking people to death. Against that there was the uplifting image of a two year old Haitian child being rescued and returned to the arms of his relieved mother. There is a ‘hospital of horrors’ where no medical staff are available and citizen doctors equipped only with the medicine of goodwill labour to keep others alive or make them comfortable as they slip out of life. In a world of plenty the prevalence of deprivation reminds us that our imaginary god who loves us all equally certainly didn’t have equality in mind when he created us.

Haiti has a terrible history. Those of us who remember the despotic Pap Doc regime and the reign of the Ton Ton Macoute murder gang recall the country for its brutality and as being one of the poorest in the world. There many children had orange hair, the result of a disease called Kkwashiorkor which was present in the malnourished.

When my wife and I sat discussing what charity or aid agency we should make a contribution to our eight year old daughter interjected to say that she wanted to send her savings. We were unaware that she was even taking any interest in the story. We discussed the matter with her and told her she could send 5 euro. We thought that would assuage her but she was having none of it and insisted on sending all her savings. Eventually we settled on 15 euro. Even then she protested that it was insufficient. We were so proud of her that at eight years of age she wanted to reach out to her fellow human beings and help them. It was evidence of a deep moral sense that did not need the myth of religion to drive it. Subject to no religious indoctrination, instructed only to care about her fellow human beings regardless of race or creed, she finds the idea of gods and heaven absurd.

Somewhere in a far off country a black child of eight will benefit because a white child of eight at the other side of the world cared enough to reach into her savings and reach out with her love.


  1. And whatever else I hear, see or read about you I will remember you have a beautiful, stubborn daughter. I hope all are giving as much, in these difficult times, as they can, recognising as they no doubt will that there really are others worse off than us.

  2. Glad to hear that your social awareness instills itself in your lovely daughter; I am sure in good (or unfortunate) times to come her brother will in his own way soon match her in generosity.

  3. nice one Anthony I can see who,s the boss in your house, kids they give me hope, anyway must go , I,m entering my first cage fight this evening. I,ve been training for months, that fucking budgie wont know what hit it

  4. The generosity of the child reflects the generosity of Her mum and dad.

  5. Hi, can i ask who won marty are the budgie.