January 18, 2010
Posted: 08:45 PM ET
This is a LKL Web Exclusive by Joel and Benji Madden – don't forget to tune in TONIGHT at 8pmet to see how YOU can help the people of Haiti.
The coverage of Haiti’s earthquake is almost unbearable to watch. But if you’re like us, you can’t stop thinking about it — and you can’t stop wondering how you can help.
What’s really tragic is that this is a double disaster. Haiti has already suffered more than its share of hardship. It’s the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In 2008, it was hit by four hurricanes. Even before last week’s earthquake, Haitian kids were struggling to survive. Many didn’t even have health care or enough food or clean water.
Things are much worse for Haiti’s kids after the earthquake, of course — it’s awful to imagine what some of them are going through. The next week is extremely crucial for the kids who survived. One hugely important thing right now is making sure they get clean water. Without safe water, children are more at risk of disease. You don’t normally think of diarrhea as being deadly — but when kids get diarrhea from dirty water, it can dehydrate them and kill them in a matter of hours. We don’t have a lot of time to help these kids.
Disease outbreaks could mean a second wave of disaster. In Port-au-Prince, there are more than three million people crammed into a very small space. Most don’t have clean water or bathrooms. There are mountains of garbage. And corpses are everywhere. Water-borne diseases like cholera and dysentery can spread really quickly in an environment like this. And again, children are the ones who suffer first and most.
Fortunately, water tanks are now being set up around the city. UNICEF has been leading efforts to bring clean water to earthquake survivors and has also given out water purification tablets and packets of oral rehydration salts. This is a mixture of salt and sugar that’s incredibly effective at preventing the deadly effects of dehydration.
We saw first-hand what it’s like to not have safe, clean water during a UNICEF visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2008. We met kids at a health clinic who sere sick and dying because of bad water.
These kids were like kids anywhere. They should have had their whole lives ahead of them. Why should they be allowed to suffer so much? No kid in CAR, Haiti, or anywhere else should get sick — or should die — from drinking unsafe water.
The truth is, we can do something to help save Haiti’s children — and it is important that we do it now. Please give what you can to help these kids get clean, safe water.
**For a full list of Organizations responding to the crisis in Haiti, please visit Impact Your World at www.cnn.com/impact
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