I was walking to and from classes yesterday when I noticed something. I overheard conversations about failing grades, midterms, Thanksgiving plans…I’m pretty sure I heard a break-up happening outside my classroom. The one word I didn’t hear around campus the entire day? Philippines.
This week, Typhoons Yolanda and Haiyan have made it across nearly every island in the Philippines, with a current death toll of 2,000. This is just a preliminary number: over 30 cities haven’t yet been reached, and millions of people are estimated to be displaced by the storm. To give you a comparison: the total death toll of Hurricane Katrina was around 1,900.
I remember Katrina: it seemed like my whole world stopped and focused the second it hit. So why, then, does it appear my world today continues to be centered around the fact that Zac Efron broke his jaw?
Preemptive cautions were taken, and many people evacuated: but evacuating thousands of people from an island is more than difficult. Many people have lost their homes, family, and are currently living without food or water. Mudslides, flash floods, and landslides are among the many disasters accompanying winds of 300 Kilometers/hour (186 MPH). Until after the storm we won’t know for certain, but it’s been said that Typhoon Haiyan may be the largest typhoon in recorded history.
So, I ask again, how are college students missing this?
Of course, we can play it up and say that teenagers are just too self-absorbed to care about something that doesn’t involve them, but I think that’s taking the easy way out. Perhaps we should blame our country and media?
I’ve spent around five hours over the last few days watching newscasts. Though I saw segments on the typhoons on nearly ever station: none lasted more than five minutes at the most. One station focused their short, two minute segment on the two Americans killed in the storm. Yes, we should mourn the loss of two people; but this is not a time to segregate our world. We should also mourn the other 2,000 human beings who have lost their lives: as well as the hundreds of thousands displaced because of the storm. Times like these are when we unite as a world.
I wish I could tell you why college students seem to be blind to the issue. I wish I could promise that it’s not by choice: that students are not simply choosing ignorance. Unfortunately, I cannot. Most major news sites have a headlining story about the Philippines, and college students certainly spend enough time online to check NBC every once in awhile. Ignorance might be bliss, but not when thousands of people are dying and millions of others are begging for help.
With nearly 30 million visits a day, Tumblr has even started doing their part to aid in relief. If you’re one of these many visitors you’ve probably noticed the yellow sun under the Tumblr logo: if you scroll over it, it reads: “Help the Philippines” and if you click it gives you resources and ways you can help.
Instead of telling you every headline over the past few days, or trying to convince you that we, as a world, need to take action, I’m going to make it easy.
To donate to the UN World Food Programme, and help the millions of people struggling without food or clean water:
You can text AID to 27722 to donate $10.
You can go here and donate online.
To donate to ShelterBox USA, an organization that responds immediately after natural disaster, providing families with boxes that include tents and other essential equipment for their use while they are homeless or displaced, go here.
There are other ways to help: and other organizations you can go through if you so choose. To see these many options go here.
Thank you for taking a moment to care and love for the people in the world around you, even if you cannot donate. Please remember that ignorance may be bliss for you, but not for someone who is hurting.
By Quinn Murphy