The world is divided by politics, religious ideology, greed and even difference over climate change. But the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami taught that in times of national disaster, differences have to be set aside in the name of compassion. Such a time has come again with the earthquake that has caused so much loss of life, grief and devastation in Haiti. No matter who or where we are, our hearts, generosity and sustained help must go out to the people of the Caribbean nation to ease their suffering. Few of us can comprehend the misery. A sense can be gleaned from the photographs, videos and accounts of survivors appearing since the tremor of 7.0 on the Richter scale struck on Tuesday. But images and words only hint at the agony and pain; they can't express the aching for the loss of loved ones, and the hopelessness caused by the destruction of livelihoods. Aid must be sent as soon as possible. Haiti was among the world's poorest nations. A series of hurricanes in recent years, decades of violence, juntas and corruption had mired the country in debt and poverty. But a UN peacekeeping and humanitarian effort, a government dedicated to clean and honest rule and a tourist boom had offered a glimmer of hope. Tragedy has again hit just when it seemed the corner was being turned, dragging Haitians back down. The world has been quick to respond. Rescue teams, food, water, medicine and other essentials are either already on the ground or on the way. Pledges of financial help are in the millions of dollars and rapidly rising. Too often, though, the promises dry up when the emergency ends. This time it has to be different. Haiti has to be rebuilt in a meaningful way. That means pledges of aid being honoured. In September, the nation qualified for cancellation of US$1.2 billion of its US$1.9 billion external debt. The amount outstanding should also be immediately cancelled. Donor nations have their own problems. The recovery from the global financial crisis in the developed world remains fragile. A solution for Haiti perhaps lies with bankers like Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. They have defended their actions to a US commission investigating the financial crisis, contending that their pay practices, such as contentious huge bonuses, should continue. It is time for them to improve their image with a gesture of their own: they should this year donate their bonuses to the people of Haiti.