One American volunteer introduced us to a three-year-old Haitian boy whose mother and sister perished in the earthquake. The father was forced to amputate his own son’s hand in order to save him from the same terrible fate his mother and sister had met. His father then walked ten miles, carrying him to the hospital to get help. This American volunteer felt a connection with the boy and treated him almost like a younger brother, bringing him gifts and paying him daily visits.

Catastrophes such as the earthquake in Haiti are some of the darkest forces of nature. These same calamities, however, also bring out the brightest qualities in humans who feel it is their duty to help others.

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You can’t go to Haiti and return the same person. You come back a little sadder, but a lot more inspired. You discover that even in the darkest of times, when it is impossible to understand the meaning of terrible events, one can still make a difference with one’s actions.

We can’t understand why bad things happen to so many good people. But our personal decisions can make all the difference in improving their lot. Witnessing the effects of the earthquake in Haiti first hand has made me so much more sensitive toward those in need.

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Mushki Boteach is an undergraduate at Yeshiva University's Stern College for Women where she is majoring in public relations. She resides in Englewood, New Jersey.