I did not jump onto the Hurricane Sandy bandwagon

It is because my concern about the Hurricane Sandy situation is limited. I have been paying attention to the development and aftermath of the hurricane with a detached feeling. And I have to admit, I become slightly amused to think of what celebrity-driven donation drive will occur next. I suppose the simplest way to equate my reaction is to a shrug of my shoulders because I know America can pull through this disaster.

Argentina street art

There is a tendency to underestimate climate change when it shows itself by an extra hot summer or an nontraditional timing of snowfall. Yet, ecological degradation has been wreaking havoc on many parts of the world who are in worse shape than New York City had to begin with. Climate change can be even more daunting in places where infrastructures are injured by wars, corruption, and even globalization. Yes, globalization comes with excrescences: a continuous production of poverty, unequal societies, and environmental degradation.

Argentina street art

Jeremy Searle wrote a book called “The No-Nonsense Guide to Worldwide Poverty” and I read this during my holidays last month (no joke). Among the bleak statistics and interviews with impoverished, he reminds readers:

It is important to distinguish between poverty and inequality, for the former is a state of absolute want and the latter is a social injustice.

He writes further:

One consequence is that all measures of poverty are now made in purely monetary terms. ‘Developed’ countries are the rich ones and the ‘developing’ countries aspire to be like them. This is simplistic and deceptive. All countries are developing countries. A question rarely asked is into what are the ‘developed’ countries evolving?

Yes, the fury of Sandy has cut off electricity; and therefore, sparked outrage to Americans affected. But this type of environmental disaster has happened in many undeserved areas. For example, according to the PATH Foundation, the Philippines (in which over 1/3 of Filipinos live in poverty) not only suffers without power for weeks when typhoons hit, but whole villages can be drowned into the sea. Moreover, some parts of this country can experience typhoons up to four times every year! In December 2011, Typhoon Sendong killed over 1000 people along its wrath. Changing landscapes — environmentally and demographically — contributes to these natural catastrophes…and the health impact resounds far after the situation has calmed down.

I also read of mothers giving birth during Hurricane Sandy during sub-par conditions such as lack of light and/or heat. Unfortunately, these types of conditions can be common in poverty-stricken countries and according to WHO, about 40% of women living in developing countries do not have a skilled birth attendant present during labor. In some countries, people scattered in rural areas must traverse a vast, unforgiving landscape to access healthcare. Inequality (gaps are big within Africa and Southeast Asia) remains to be a barrier for accessing maternal, newborn, and child healthcare.

Another challenge imposed by Hurricane Sandy is receiving prescription refills due to pharmacy closures. As a big worldwide distributor of generic medications, it is a paradox that two-thirds of India’s population cannot obtain essential medications.

It is true, the repercussions of Hurricane Sandy are “disastrous”, but disasters are happening all over the world.

How will you help?

DONATE

If you have no money

VOLUNTEER

If you have no time

ADVOCATE

Through written or spoken word

Thank you for expanding your horizon of caring.

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