In January of this year, I took my 16-year-old daughter, Kalina, to Haiti for a short-term mission trip. I hoped that, by showing her the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, she would have an appreciation for the bounty that is ours in America. Additionally, I hoped that she would perceive an obligation to someday help those who have not been as well blessed as we Americans. Even those who are below the poverty line here in our own country have available resources that those in poverty in Haiti do not.
Four years ago I took a similar trip to Haiti with my then 16-year-old son, Jenson. That trip was just two months following the devastating earthquake that killed over a quarter million Haitians, destroyed many square miles of buildings, left over one million homeless, and created 20,000 new orphans. At that time, my son declared that trip “changed [his] life.”
Upon returning home from each of my travels to Haiti, I am re-impressed with what great bounty we have in this country. Every one of my clients carries some form of insurance, whereas the Haitians can seldom afford to carry any. The houses and buildings that were destroyed in Haiti had to be removed by hand, as there is very little in the way of heavy machinery there, not that the average Haitian could afford to rent it anyway. According to Forbes Magazine, we Americans spend between 2.4% and 15.1% of our household budgets on the purchase of insurance: pensions, health, home, automobile, life, disability income, etc. When we have a loss, we merely contact our insurance company, report a claim and wait for the contractor or body shop estimate, confident that a pot of money is available to help put our lives, plans and dreams back on track.
Four years after the earthquake, Haiti is still in abysmal condition since everything that needs to be done takes much time to accomplish. Here in America, we can merely take out insurance, pay our premium, incur a loss, report it, and have it adjusted for costs of repair/replacement. A short while later we are driving a new or repaired car, living in a new or repaired house, or receiving a settlement to provide cash to help defray our cost of loss. Are we not indeed blessed to have such a great means of financing against the risks of life? I hope that you are grateful for the blessings you receive in America…I know I am.
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