When I heard the news, it sounded like some kind of cruel joke—Haiti was hit by an earthquake. There is no good place for an earthquake to strike, but this desperately poor country is probably one of the areas least likely to withstand Nature’s ferocity.
The news coverage of the tragedy is excessive, yet somehow necessary. This is a horrible disaster and countless fellow humans need help; showing us the realities of the aftermath inspires support. My wife and I made a modest contribution, but as I watch the massive recovery efforts unfold, our donation feels like it probably should—only marginally helpful. The images of merciless destruction and bottomless grief overwhelm us.
Of course, when disaster strikes, ABMP members and others call us and ask two basic questions:
- What can I do to help?
- What are you doing to help?
In cases such as with Haiti, the response is oddly simple, and likely unfulfilling to those who are moved to do something—anything—to provide support.
When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, massage therapists were in need and many stepped forward to help them; ABMP worked to get practitioners back to their practices. After the attacks of September 11th
, ABMP members volunteered countless hours providing relief to first responders. Groups such as Emergency Response Massage International
are specifically trained for these types of circumstances.
People typically join the massage & bodywork profession because they are compassionate, caring individuals. A tragic situation like the Haiti earthquake calls to our mission to provide relief. However, this time the need isn’t next door. Worse yet, it’s in another country—a country that had a challenged infrastructure before the disaster. Now Haiti’s need is compounded and our desires to help are thwarted as the cycle of desperation builds upon itself. It is not practical (or perhaps even possible) to coordinate a relief effort yet (if at all) that provides massage therapy. How would I get there? What system is already in place? Perhaps as time passes the realities will change and doors will open, but right now there just isn’t a way to be actively involved.
My advice to those who feel a strong desire to help: channel that desire to help humanity into your practice, send healing thoughts, and, if possible, share your good fortune through a donation. ABMP made a donation to the Red Cross on behalf of our members; we intend to monitor proceedings to see if there is a constructive role we can play. If you’re looking to donate, check out CNN’s long list of organizations
providing relief and choose the one that most resonates with you.
Money won’t solve all the problems, or take away the pain, or bring back those who perished. But even a modest contribution—multiplied many times over through individual acts of generosity and compassion—can provide relief.