Living in Miami as I do, the strains of Haitian suffering in the wake of this devastating earthquake are all too palpable. It’s the rare South Floridian who’s not close to someone who’s suffered a personal loss, consoled a bereaved friend, or considered flying the few miles it takes to reach our Caribbean neighbors to lend a hand and help alleviate the kind of suffering we can only imagine.

As a veterinarian, native Miamian, and daughter of first-generation Cuban exiles, I feel especially close to the Haitian community here. We all share the same legacy of political, social and economic oppression imposed by our respective governments. We don’t need to look at a seismologist’s map to know that the same fault lines run through our respective heritages.

So when the Tuesday evening news reported a massive earthquake, we waited with bated breath, expecting the worst. A 7-plus ordeal? Damn if that wouldn’t level a country already ill-equipped to care for its desperately impoverished population––much less a natural disaster whose proportions handily outstrip any hurricane’s wrath.

Feeling close to the epicenter, locals have mobilized. We’ve offered our cash, considered the flight down, wondered how we could help, and creatively contemplated how our specific skills might be utilized to assist our aggrieved neighbors. So would you if you lived here. And maybe you already have, regardless of your geography.

Problem is, people like me have little to offer. Now––trust me––I’m as good as placing an IV catheter and stabilizing fractures as the next emergency worker. But when it comes to offering license-specific skills ideally suited to the current scenario, I fall far short. Then there’s the logistical nightmare to consider. If human docs (orthopedic surgeons, no less) can’t even fly into Haiti...

Frustrating. More so as I busy myself with wounds and fractures inherent to my own profession, knowing as I do that so many could use these supplies, these skills, all this water, all this sterility. After large scale human tragedies like this one, the comparable triviality of companion animal veterinary medicine always comes home to roost.

Make no mistake, I care no less for what I do when such thoughts arrive. It’s simply one more reminder that most of us here have it so good. 

I may not be able to fly to Haiti or help as directly as I'd like, but I do have the ability to urge you to do so. So here's where I ask: Do you have the luxury to lend a hand? Then it.