Hurricane Matthew may be old news for many of us, but for thousands of people in the Caribbean and along the Gulf Coast, the aftermath festers as a stagnant reminder of the region’s ability to attract millions of tourists every year while simultaneously covering its wounds; blisters from a colonial past where liberty could not surmount neglect and the whims of a global economy that had already gotten its fill of the region’s commodities. For every life lost, countless homes, businesses, and livelihoods were washed away, and now thousands of people are held captive to the awesome and terrifying power of nature and one its most fundamental elements: water.
Hurricane Matthew destroyed thousands of homes and took thousands of lives in Haiti. Though an island nation, drowning is the leading cause of death in Haiti, where less than 1% of the population is water-safe. Nonetheless, Haiti boasts a group of swimmers eager to compete alongside the rest of the world. In 2015 the Haiti Aquatic Federation (FHSAS) became a member of FINA, the Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation (CCCAN) and the American Swimming Union (UANA–Unión Americana de Natación).
Haiti’s intentions are clear: Haitian swimmers want to be competitive on the international stage, a goal that seems insurmountable considering the drowning and water-safety statistics. More importantly, Haiti and the FHSAS want to save lives. In the organization’s own words:
“The FHSAS Mission is to save lives and to promote swimming. Drowning is the leading cause of death in Haiti. Less than 1% of the population knows how to swim. Haiti promotes SWIMMING as the ONLY SPORT THAT CAN SAVE LIVES.”
In a collaborative mission between the FHSAS and the Haitian Federation of Athletics, a GoFundMe page has been created with a goal of raising $50,000 to build 100 anti-seismic houses that might weather future storms and natural disasters that will inevitably breach the island’s flood walls. Swimmer or swammer; athlete or NARP (non-athlete-regular-person); you can make a difference in the lives of people that truly need our help with just the click of a button. If you’re still too broke to donate, share this post and at the message will spread, eventually finding capable donors.
There is undoubtedly a lot happening in the United States right now, and it has many of us incredibly on-edge as we anxiously wait to see who will lead our country into the next four years; to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020; to new and revolutionary legislation or ambitious feats of nigh-Westerosi engineering; to an event horizon, beyond which no one can fathom the outcome, but with an inexorable gravity that will eventually devour us all. That’s happening–but so is this, and you can make a difference, so don’t sit idly; decide to care and take action.