First-Place Winning Entry
President Bas Vanderzalm
14150 SW Milton Court
Portland, OR 97224
Dear President Bas Vanderzalm:
My entire life, I have been told that I should be generous and give to those less fortunate than myself. Probably most people grow up with the classic proverb, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” If I were much less lucky than I am, if I had a common and deadly disease but not the means to cure it, if I had no possessions to my name, if I had to live on less than a dollar a day, if I went to bed each night wondering if I would live to see the sun again, I would certainly want someone to help me. To maybe save my life with only a miniscule dent in their pockets. Medical Teams International does that every day, because they are aware of the horrors in this world and know that they can save people along with their hopes, dreams, and futures.
When I first stepped through the doors to see the REAL. LIFE. Exhibit with my class, I was moderately aware that people were dying in other countries and that donating time, money, or supplies could help them. I knew that, but I didn’t act on it. I kept thinking, I’m just a kid who lives in a civilized country. What kind of difference could I possibly make? I’ll just save up my money for college and then see what I can do when I’m older.
When I stepped through the doors to leave the exhibit, my thoughts had flipped 180 degrees. It was still true that I was just a kid with no more money than I had possessed earlier, who was still set on going to college, but all of those things now seemed like really lame excuses to me. Do the rebel soldiers in Uganda care if they are handing out weapons to adults or five-year-olds? Do children who live in garbage dumps get to go to the college of their dreams, or the ones who die long before? The answer is most certainly not. The REAL. LIFE. Exhibit profoundly affected my perspective on life by showing me that I am so fortunate, and that therefore I can save lives. Ayn Rand once said, “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of reality.” It was true that I lived far away from and had never encountered any of the horrors that I had just observed in the exhibit, but that no longer seemed important to me.
If I were recovering from a catastrophic earthquake in my already impoverished country, any kind of aid would make a difference. Therefore, I would like to donate $100,000 to the people of Haiti. The biggest concerns in Haiti involve medicine and health care. Citizens are dying of disease, injuries, infection, and malnutrition every day. This is because hospitals are damaged and have no supplies, people can’t access medicine or health care, and clean water and food are limited. I would like $60,000 of my donation to go to repairing hospitals, replenishing them with medicine, supplies, and basic equipment, and making sure that there are plenty of doctors, nurses, and orderlies to go around. While hospitals are being rebuilt, temporary ones should be constructed because patients aren’t going to be able to wait for a coat of paint to dry, let alone entire buildings to be reconstructed. All medical employees should be offered food, water, other necessities, shelter and perhaps even a small salary to persuade them to come and work again.
Huge causes of disease and poor health are lack of food, water, and multitudes of germs. The people of Haiti desperately need basic necessities like sustenance, soap, and blankets in order to survive. I would like my remaining $40,000 to bring these supplies to Haiti, especially to the children. A big part of that job is the actual transportation and distribution of the supplies. I would like some of the money to build temporary airports and transportation routes. The rest will buy the actual supplies that will include nutritious and practical food, a blanket, a toothbrush, soap, a clean outfit, and iodine to purify water. One kit should be given to every person who comes to get one, priority given to children. All who come to receive a kit will be instructed by capable volunteers on how to make the most of what they’ve been given and how to treat water so that it’s clean and drinkable.
Medicine, food, clean water, and hospitals will all tremendously help the devastated people of Haiti. They didn’t ask for this earthquake, and they deserve the chance to live another day. Because of $100,000, kids can grow up knowing their parents. Families can get back on their feet. Some children might even be able to go to the colleges of their dreams one day because they had clean water.
The sun will rise once more on Haiti tomorrow. Who will be greeted by its fiery, golden rays? Who will feel the warmth on their face and be blinded by its brilliancy? The answer lies with all who have the choice to live by the Golden Rule.
Waluga Junior High School. Lake Oswego, Oregon
Teacher: Ms. Kelly Running