Brave Hearts-Heroism and Compassion Embrace Haiti

Like many, I have been trying to keep up with the situation in Haiti in order to be of any help I can, whether in prayer or in other actions. To be honest, the reports of devastation and suffering often overwhelm me. Then, I have to stop and do a lot of metta, loving-kindness meditation, for myself in order to heal my heart.

But every now and then, I come across something in the reports that makes me cry for a different reason—because I am so deeply moved by the courageous spirit of the people trying to do their best in under incredibly difficult circumstances. Here’s what made me cry today:

“Despite the death and destruction, hundreds of people, mostly women, took the streets in an area of the capital on Friday, singing and chanting as they marched down the street — a sign of resilience amid the mountains of rubble. It is not the first time that such a display has been observed. Singing and clapping have been heard well into the night in a large square that thousands of people have made home.”

I can’t describe in words how moved I was by this. Dear, brave Haitian women! How much you give to your families and your country! It then occurred to me that it might be comforting and inspiring to others battling “compassion fatigue” to hear about other examples of the very best in us as humans, both men and women.

So, here are some news snippets, gathered all over the internet, that show people acting with great love, compassion, and bravery. I think we need to be reminded of this innate goodness so we never lose sight of our common humanity and never give up in the face of adversity.

May these accounts touch you and inspire you to help and support those in dire need, wherever they are!

Accounts of Courage and Compassion from Haiti

An Icelandic search-and-rescue team has freed a woman who was entombed — uninjured — for 50 hours in the ruins of the Caribbean Market in Port-au-Prince, CNN’s Gary Tuchman reports. The team, having heard her voice, had been trying to reach her for about 24 hours.

The American Red Cross’s efforts to get donations via text messages has raised $5 million for Haiti as of 5 p.m., Thursday reports.

The U.S. Air Force, which arrived at Port-au-Prince’s airport last night to re-establish air-traffic control there, is trying to make sure planes flying into the airport arrive with enough fuel to fly out. The airport, which is crucial for quick delivery of aid, is having refueling difficulties.

A group of men worked all night to free an 11-year-old girl who was trapped in her Port-au-Prince home, CNN’s Ivan Watson reports. Using an electric saw powered by a generator, the men cut a metal beam that was pinning her right leg.

More than 300 U.S. military personnel are in Haiti now, helping the aid effort, according to military officials. More than 5,000 are expected there by early next week, including 3,000 soldiers and 2,200 Marines, the officials say.

In Port-au-Prince, Stefano Zamnini, the head of mission for Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors without Borders], said his staff had been working round the clock under canvas to perform life-saving surgery on hundreds of people with dangerous open fractures.

Jesse Hagopian is an unemployed Seattle teacher with no experience in mending broken bones. That all changed Tuesday evening as he ripped up bed sheets and placed splints on the fractured bones of the earthquake victims in Haiti who found their way to the Villa Creole in the Petionville suburb outside of Port-au-Prince. Hagopian worked under the direction of an American medic whom he knew only as “J.H.” After the earthquake, J.H. took the lead in the emergency first-aid effort in the hotel’s circular front drive.”

Amid the chaos and heartache enveloping the capital came a rare, but wondrous, moment of joy on Friday: A 4-year-old boy was pulled to safety three days after he was buried alive in his two-story family home. He was exhausted and intensely dehydrated but miraculously unharmed.

People in the street ran to get a glimpse of Paul Derlice as he was carried down a huge pile of rubble by the heroic Haitian men who slaved for hours in the blazing sun to free him.”

President Obama tells U.S. House Democrats at a retreat that he “will not put up with any excuses for us not doing the very best in this time of tragedy” in Haiti. The initial $100 million in aid to Haiti he announced earlier Thursday will be “for the basics” like life-saving equipment and food, and the U.S.’s investment will grow as Haiti rebuilds,” Obama said.”

An impromptu group of rescuers with chisels and a blowtorch has rescued a man who was pinned under the rubble of a five-story school building in Port-au-Prince, CNN’s Susan Candiotti reports. The group had been trying to reach the man since Wednesday.

President Préval of Haiti sobbed with gratitude down the phone to Mr Obama, who reached him after three days of failed calls. He ended with a message to the American people, saying: “From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the Haitian people, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Friday, Russian President Dmitry A. Medvedev announced the deployment of a rapid-response search and rescue team, dog teams, psychologists and doctors, special search equipment, including a lighting tower and powerful floodlights that will allow rescue operations at night.

In a rare thaw in relations Cuba agreed to allow US military aircraft into its airspace to evacuate the wounded to Miami. The concession shaves 90 minutes off the flight time from Guantanamo Bay, where casualties will receive initial treatment, to Miami where they can be taken to hospital.

About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

9 Responses to “Brave Hearts-Heroism and Compassion Embrace Haiti”

  1. Gosh Steve, its good to visit your space! I come here for peace of heart, and each time leave with a hopeful heart. Thank you for yet another wonderful constructive contribution.


  2. This is such a wonderful thing for you to have thought of to do, Steve. I know that people (including myself) have been brought to tears many times reading about what’s happening and seeing photos and footage of the devastation. To share so many counter-balances to it all is an act of love in itself.

    Thank you so much.


  3. thanks, steve. your energy matchs your generosity.

    • Thanks, Mark!

      As for my energy, well, I just think to myself, “If these people in Haiti were my immediate family, how would I feel, how would I act if I couldn’t come to their immediate rescue and was separated by thousands of miles.” Then, I do all I can, and hold them in my hearts and prayers.

      Your telling me about Partners in Health was a huge blessing; not only did it give Sarah and me a place we could give direct, immediate financial support to, but this is an organization right at ground zero. Such a worthy group, so many, many thanks to you Mark!

      Partners in Health


  4. You are wonderful. Thank you for your amazing efforts, Dear Heart, to bring love and healing to the world. This is exactly what’s needed. Compassion fatigue is the human psyche’s natural defense mechanism to keep from being overwhelmed by emotional pain, and your post is exactly what is needed to heal all the deeply caring hearts that cry with you each day and want to help. Rather than forcing ourselves through pain, you help us minister to ourselves, to take care of the “crying baby” of compassion fatigue. Thank you again. We are so very blessed to have your voice ministering to all our hearts. We need you, and we are immeasurably grateful for your Big Love and infinitude of the openness of your remarkable heart and spirit.


  1. There’s More to Dying Than Death « Metta Refuge - 2010/04/23

    […] I want to explain that I’m not “obsessing” about death this week! Like all my posts, this topic comes from what I’m having to deal with in my own life and from what friends are having to deal with. Topic posts are also often prompted by events in the world, like my posts on the earthquake in Haiti. […]

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