April 13, 2010

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 80, Issue 13

Massive flooding expected to hit Haiti

A photo of a Haitian girl sleeping with her mother and brother by  United Nations Development Programme.

A photo of a Haitian girl sleeping with her mother and brother by United Nations Development Programme.

Ever since the devastating earthquakes that hit Haiti and its people back in January, living conditions have been less than tolerable. Now, as Haiti enters its annual rain season, worries run high - especially in the areas below sea level.

Massive flooding is expected and families who have just adapted to their lives in the make-shift shelters made of tents are being forced to relocate to higher grounds.

David Luhnow of the Wall Street Journal interviewed Dr. Waldman, a chief medical examiner there, who said, "As we move from one season to another, we fully expect an increase of diarrhea and malaria. That's what happens in the rainy season - lack of sanitation."

As Haiti is battling this seasonal problem, its people are also trying to control another problem. A MSNBC report on March 16, revealed that Haiti victims, especially the females, are now facing rape trauma. "When a young woman had to use the toilet, she went out into the darkened tent camp and was attacked by three men," MSNBC reports. Often times, females, especially teenagers, must negotiate for food by providing sex to the dealers - who are often male.

Haiti's law enforcement system was washed away with the floods. As if trying to rebuild a stable and workable government isn't difficult enough, trying to enforce laws is even harder.

Ashley Dietz, a freshman at NU, explains that the victims of what could be called "mass rape" are the true survivors of the Haiti disaster: "For these women in Haiti, this life is to get the things that they and their families need. We in America don't understand what it's like to need to go through that trauma to do every day things. Rape is trauma to everyone. It does not matter where you come from. When there is no one there to stand up for those people, and those in power are often the ones committing this horrible crime against humanity, these women have no voice. They cannot stand up for themselves and ask for help and they have no one there to help them to begin with. 

Disease is something that a person can overcome. Rape is different though. Victims survive and relive that trauma each and every day. Often times seeing their attacker(s) every day or close to it. They are in a way sacrificing themselves, their mind and body, to save their families. They feed them and bring home the things they need. They are raped to survive. Until someone can go in there and stop this from happening, people are going to be continually victimized to live everyday life. They cannot run away. They cannot ask for help. They stay strong for everyone around them."

Another concern with the rape crisis is that if women become pregnant, their infants could be born with complications due to malnutrition. The immediate danger of pregnancy is with the youngest of teenagers who are able to conceive. Doctors are concerned that harm wouldn't only come to the infant, but to the young mother as well. Lack of medical supplies will make this quite difficult.

As for the latest relief efforts to Haiti, an organization called the "SOS Children's Villages" has just opened its 500th camp. In these camps, child victims of Haiti are being taken to villages where they will be cared for until it is deemed safe to return them to their biological parents. Thousands of organizations from all over the world have taken on the challenge of rebuilding Haiti by sending money and supplies to those suffering.

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