When Discrimination Helps Everyone

I smiled over my morning coffee when I read this headline: Haitian food distribution efforts focus on women.  It’s about time. Seeing the news images of jostling, fighting and full on stealing in food lines has been so disheartening, knowing because of that aggression less food will get out and, that which does get distributed, won’t necessarily get to those who need it the most (especially children).  Most, no, all of the aggression I’ve seen in news images on TV are of men. Of course that makes sense. Men are physically the strongest, often most able to get to the food lines because women are caring for children, and many men are just trying to provide for their hungry families. But there are also some men who abuse that physical power to take advantage of the situation. There have been problems with donated food being resold on the streets of Port au Prince – out of bags clearly marked “not for resale.”

Changing distribution strategy like this is nothing new. The UN World Food Program has used such an approach in other disaster zones to great success. When women are given food they are far more likely to wait their turn calmly and to make sure it gets to their children, elderly parents, as well as to the men in their household.  So the men aren’t actually left out, they just have to be nice to their wives to get fed.

Speaking of husbands and wives, my own dear husband, Steve, will be leaving soon for Haiti. He’ll be working with two fabulous organizations, Medical Teams International and Haiti Foundation of Hope.  He’ll work a week in mobile health clinics in Port-au-Prince followed by a week in HFH’s community health program in northern Haiti. This is his fourth trip to work with HFH’s community health program, a program that empowers community members (men and women alike) to be agents of health change in their own communities.  The Haitians he’ll be working with are true change agents, the real future of a brighter Haiti. I appreciate your prayers for him and for the rebuilding of Haiti.

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