The Haiti quake made me stop and think about Good Samaritans in distant lands.

I’m lucky to have a roof over my head. I cannot begin to comprehend the horror facing those who survived the earthquake in Haiti. It must be something akin to hell on earth.

Broken limbs. Broken bodies. A breakdown of social order. Chaos and desperation in the ruins. Can you imagine trying to pick up the pieces in a city cloaked in death and destruction? Can you imagine trying to forage for food when the smell of rotting flesh permeates everything? According to news reports, people have started painting strips of toothpaste between their noses and mouths to try to mask the odour as they breathe.

But hope remains. At work last night, we covered a story about a Haitian man who was pulled from the rubble two weeks after the virtual levelling of the city. He had a crushed leg and several other injuries, but he was alive. He’d held on in the darkness, clinging to the belief that rescuers would find him. Now he faces a long and difficult road to recovery.

Humanitarian aid continues to pour in from around the world and everywhere I look, people are rallying to raise money for the reconstruction of the island. My best friend and I had a discussion about this earlier today… What compels us to try to help strangers in a foreign land and yet look the other way when confronted by the beggar outside the local supermarket?

Are the victims of natural disasters more deserving of assistance than the victims of circumstance standing at the traffic lights with pleas written on cardboard?

Charity doesn’t have to start when the earth moves. A simple act of kindness can go a long way towards improving the life of another – near or far.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of I Belong To You by Muse.


Janine Papendorf likes coffee, chocolate and wine. Not necessarily in that order. She’s married to a nerdy biker and they’re raising Cape Town’s cleverest child. When she’s not building Lego castles or watching old movies, Janine likes to send words into cyberspace. She’s a freelance writer and content strategist based in South Africa’s beautiful Mother City. Witness her obsession with pink flowers on Instagram, or contact her to collaborate on a project.


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