No holiday from misery in Haiti

Check out the Op-Ed below written by Dennis Rosen, a Zervas parent, that recently appeared in the Boston Herald. In the article he describes how Zervas Second Graders helped to make a difference in Haiti this Fall.

No holiday from misery in Haiti
Fortunate America owes island assistance

By Dennis Rosen

Returning to Haiti two weeks ago alongside 11 other health care professionals, it was obvious that much was as it had been in May. More than 1.3 million people continue to live in tents constructed for the most part out of tarps, sheets of plastic and the occasional piece of wood, held down by bricks in a vain attempt to keep them from being knocked down by the wind and rain. The piles of garbage and rubble are everywhere, littering the streets in which raw sewage flows and animals scrounge for food.

Yes, there is an election campaign underway, and all of the candidates promise a better tomorrow, but confidence runs thin among the citizens who are long accustomed to pledges made and then quickly forgotten. It is easy to look at all of this, shrug one’s shoulders, and turn away. After all, things have always been bad in Haiti. Why should anyone reasonably expect things over there to change?

But that is a self-serving argument, designed to absolve us of our responsibility as fellow human beings inhabiting this earth to our brethren trapped in such a desperate situation only a few hours by airplane from Boston. And the answer, really, is to concentrate on making a difference in the lives of individuals, without worrying about fixing the entire country.

One example is the initiative of second-graders at the Zervas School in Newton. After learning about the conditions in Haiti following the earthquake, they collected and donated more than 7,000 children’s vitamins, wrote letters and painted a beautiful banner for the pediatric ward at the Bernard Mevs hospital in Port-au-Prince.

In Haiti, one-third of children under the age of 5 are considered undernourished by the United Nations, and 76 percent of the population subsists on less than $2 a day. Giving supplemental vitamins, seemingly a small thing by Boston standards, can have a big impact on the health and well-being of the children who received them.

Continuing to help the people of Haiti, individually and as a community, is the right thing to do, and doesn’t demand a huge effort, as those second graders discovered. While the lack of visible progress on the ground can be frustrating at times, it is no excuse to turn our backs on those in such great need. It also gives us a reason to pause and reflect during this holiday season about how much we all have to be thankful for.

Dr. Dennis Rosen is a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital Boston. His daughter is a second-grader at the Zervas School.

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