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Listen To Disaster

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved
By Camille Bright-Smith

Disaster, is the burden of women
Disaster, perhaps a bit more than men
Disaster, the girls are exposed
Slavery, trafficking
Disaster, always harder for those
Already on the fringe

Disaster, and this child she is fading
Disaster, and this girl still has her life
Disaster, for the father who is trying to free
His wife and his babies
Disaster, he will dig for the boy before he digs for his girls and his wife

Dig a grave for these small bodies
Three handfuls of dirt
Voodoo song of farewell
A holy cross and some alcohol
Gather together
Its time to sleep
Rest your head little baby
On this hot hard street

Burden, it isn’t to judge
But know what the truth is
Burden, the lost and the lonely
Land on women’s backs
Burden, it isn’t to say one bad word
About beautiful men
Burden, but only to see
So easy to fall when your already down in the cracks

Dig a grave for these small bodies
Three handfuls of dirt
Voodoo song of farewell
A holy cross and some alcohol
Gather together
Its time to sleep
Rest your head little baby
On this hot hard street

With gratitude to Emmanuel David of University of Colorado Boulder, Gillian Silverman and Elissa Auther of Feminism and Co. (Select “Feminism & Co. 2009” from the pull down menu) plus Adam Lerner of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver who introduced me to the study of the Sociology of Disaster.

Please donate. The big international organizations are doing work that is important and necessary. But there are other equally safe and essential ways to give. I have chosen this organization: MADRE

Please read more below or visit their site.

From MADRE’s site: “All Haitians are suffering right now. But, women are often hardest hit when disaster strikes because they were at a deficit even before the catastrophe. In Haiti, and in every country, women are the poorest of the poor and often have no safety net, leaving them most exposed to violence, homelessness and hunger in the wake of disasters. Women are also overwhelmingly responsible for other vulnerable people, including infants, children, the elderly, and people who are ill or disabled.

In the wake of disasters like the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti, it is often comforting to see big international agencies taking charge of relief and reconstruction efforts. No doubt international agencies—with their resources, know-how, heavy machinery, and access to government—have a critical role to play. But large-scale relief operations are not always best suited to meet the needs of those who are made most vulnerable by disaster, namely, women and their children.

Because of their role as care-takers and because of the discrimination they face, women have a disproportionate need for assistance. Yet, they are often overlooked in large-scale aid operations. In the chaos that follows disasters, aid too often reaches those who yell the loudest or push their way to the front of the line. When aid is distributed through the “head of household” approach, women-headed families may not be recognized, and women within male-headed families may be marginalized when aid is controlled by male relatives.

It is not enough to ensure that women receive aid. Women in communities must also be integral to designing and carrying out relief efforts. That is MADRE’s model. We know from experience that when relief is distributed by women, it has the best chance of reaching those most in need. That’s not because women are morally superior. Rather, it is because their roles as caretakers in the community means that they know where every family lives, which households have new babies or disabled elders, and how to reach remote communities even in disaster conditions.”

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  1. Posted January 18, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Wow, Camille, I am blown away by your song and by the words from Madre, an organization that I did not know of before. In learning about microfinance, I was aware of the ways in which economic and natural disasters tend to harm women and children more than men, but I hadn’t really connected it to relief efforts in Haiti. I am grateful for this timely reminder.

  2. Camille Bright-Smith
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much Kristen…have you written anything about microfinance? OR maybe you can recommend some info. I am aware of it, but don’t have any in-depth understanding really. Thanks from my heart for listening.

  3. Poppa Stu
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Women are the medical heads of families.

    • Camille Bright-Smith
      Posted January 18, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      You should know….being an official Dr. and all, but still we kids used to run to our Mommie! Love you DAD!!!!

  4. Posted January 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    absolutely beautiful and haunting. i was waiting i knew something absolutely wonderful was going to come from you…chills

  5. Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Camille –

    I did read a book about microfinance, written by Muhammad Yunus (?), who I believe won the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts. I think it is called Banker for the Poor. Not the best written book, but a compelling economic theory put into impressive practice.