Campus Joins Together to Support Haiti

Since a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the nation of Haiti in January, the campus community has united several times to show support, to raise awareness, and to collect aid. Still, according to Jamila Hageman ‘13, a member of the Coalition for a Free Haiti (CFFH), “there is so much work to be done.”

Students at last Friday’s “moment of silence” gathering memorializing the earthquake. Photo by Cindy Lin.

This statement was echoed by Jacqueline Bailey-Ross ’12, co-founder of CFFH, who believes that being educated on the nation of Haiti is more important than a monetary donation. Bailey-Ross said that whenever she is approached by a student who asks what he or she can do to help the victims of the earthquake, her response is, “Just learn about Haiti.”

The first event held on campus to support Haiti following the earthquake occurred on January 18th and featured remarks from Associate Professor of French Micheline Rice-Maximin and President Rebecca Chopp, among others. Since then, other events, such as a prayer vigil and a collection, have helped to educate students and staff on the culture of Haiti and to raise money for the nation.

CFFH and Students of Caribbean Ancestry members have also tabled at Sharples and collected donations at Pub Nite to collect money for Haiti. So far, Swat students have donated about $2,000 to Haiti but Bailey-Ross hopes that the campus will have raised $10,000 by the end of April. In an attempt to meet his goal, a committee is being organized that will, according to Bailey-Ross, discuss “more strategic ways to fundraise.”

The committee will be comprised of students, staff, and administrators and will help to centralize fundraising efforts on campus. We need “to accept a single goal,” Bailey-Ross said.

This money raised will go to various organizations aiding Haiti, but Bailey-Ross hopes that the majority of the money can be sent to a group called Haiti Community Support (HCS). HCS is an organization based in Au Centre/Beaumont, Haiti, that assists the community “through economic programs that make the community self-sustaining,” according to an online mission statement.

A variety of on campus events are being planned for the coming months, including a concert on Sunday, February 21st in the Lang Concert Hall. The concert will feature musicians from both Haiti and America, and donations will go to Partners in Health, a group that works to promote health care in Haiti, and to educational institutions in Haiti.

CFFH is also working to bring speakers to campus and to plan a walk/run benefiting Haiti that will be held in May.

“From the moment I found out about the earthquake I knew that Swat students would be proactive and help the Haiti relief efforts in any way they could,” Hageman said. “And I wanted to be apart of it.”