We have all been riveted to the television. I'll admit there are moments when I thought I should turn it off but I could not.
How do you talk to your children about Haiti?. You are the parent and you know your children. Most parents have a good idea about how much their children can and should see of the news. PBS Parents has a great post here with more tips.
Be proactive. In our house, we decided to see what we could do to help 900 children in the process of being adopted by U.S. citizens that are now in orphanages in Haiti. This is close to our hearts because we have dear friends living in Haiti and working with Heartline Ministries and World Wide Village who have already adopted two children and are in the process of helping family members adopt two more children.
We contacted all of our elected representatives and then started a Facebook page explaining to others how they can contact their members of Congress about getting humanitarian paroles for these 900 children so they can come to the United States to live with families that already know them and love them. It took only 10 minutes and we believe it will change the lives of 900 children. It won't help everyone in Haiti but it's a start. It is something you could do with your children today that will provide a tangible result. We watched seven Haitian children get off a plane last night in Kansas City. Was it a result of our letters? We will probably never know. My kids think it was because of them and that's all that matters to me.
Find a worthy cause and give. There are the big names for donation such as the Red Cross and the Bush Clinton Haiti Fund, but there are some lesser known charities that are doing great work helping the Haitian people. We like World Vision because you get a chance to have a "say" in where your money goes. You can ask that your money go provide PUR water packets, a family survival pack or even have your money go to shipping the much needed supplies. Your children have an opportunity to visually see how your money is helping.
Find out what you can do in your area to help Haiti. Right now there are lots of areas having relief drives, collecting infant formula, tents, tarps, clothing and lots more. Check out your local news station and newspaper to find them in your area. Having your child pick out the items helps them feel included in serving those who need the most help.
Show your child where Haiti is on a map. There are great resources for teaching your kids about the country of Haiti, about how earthquakes happen and what you can do to prepare for a natural disaster yourself.
Please let us know how you are helping. We would love to hear.
UPDATED: On January 18, 2010, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano authorized humanitarian paroles for Haitian children being adopted. Unfortunately many of these children are still in orphanages that have received little or no humanitarian help yet. They have no food, water or safe place to wait to be evacuated from Haiti. Our focus has shifted now to contacting our members of Congress to get help to these children, to find a safe place for them to wait and to speed up their document processing.
Photo by the great Troy Livesay. Godspeed, my friend.