Recently a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the residents of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and killed more than 150,000 people. Soon after the quake, the World Food Programme delivered more than 8 million meals to 400,000 Haitians and the international community pledged more than $1 billion in support.
However, upon their arrival, relief workers were stunned by the lack of infrastructure and the relative chaos that surrounded them. It soon became clear to the world that the problem of poverty and corruption in Haiti had been growing for decades before the quake, and was noticed only once disaster struck.
But where had we been before?
The Onion, a satirical newspaper, recently published an article headlined "Massive earthquake reveals entire island civilization called 'Haiti.' " In all honesty, I doubt many of us even considered the plight of the Haitian people before the earthquake. Just weeks before the disaster, relief organizations had been struggling to make ends meet, and a British Royal Navy flotilla that could have provided direct aid after the earthquake was pulled out because of budget cuts.
Thankfully, since the earthquake, the international community has brought some stability to the country, but it is still only the beginning.
Today, it is important to remember that there are many Haitis around the world -- each with its own unique problems and calamities. From the Palestinian territory to Moldova, millions of people are living in conditions that many would consider inhumane. Even in our own community we do not have to look far to see the adverse effect of poverty.
Luckily, in America we have organizations to help those in need, both locally and globally. Now it's just up to us to support these organizations before calamity strikes again.
(The writer, a member of The Augusta Chronicle's Teen Board, is a senior at Lakeside High School.)