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Campus Joins Together to Support Haiti

February 16, 2010

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.”

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  • vetted

    Has anyone looked at the link to HCS Haiti Community Support? They are located in the Virgin Islands. Money raised should go to an established aid/charity organization in Haiti. You can search the GuideStar website to see a list of reputable aid groups already in Haiti.

  • Phil Chodrow ’12


    It's unclear to me why a group headed by a family in the Virgin Islands would not be effective and well-guided in utilizing Swarthmore's support. It is not as though Bruce and Mathilde Wilson are random outsiders swooping in to save the day in Haiti–they have family ties to Au Centre, the area on which their development efforts focus.

    I would encourage you to look past Bruce and Mathilde's and into the ideas, ideals, and methods of Bruce and Mathilde, the directors. Yes, there are many admirable charity groups within and without of Haiti, all doing great work. I won't claim to know that HCS is a better choice than all of them. But I do believe that HCS is a good choice, and that's good enough for me.

    As coordinator of this year's NinjaGram campaign, I'm proud to be sending the money we raised to HCS, and I hope that you'll join us and the rest of the Swarthmore community in expressing our support to this organization.

  • Paul Cato


    HCS has an established connection with a Swarthmore Student, Leah Guthrie '12. When we were deciding on charities to support we thought it would be great to support an organization with whom we could have easy means of communication. Also, like Phil said, if you look into the methods used by the Wilsons you'll see that there is potential for a long-term partnership with HCS – with the possibility (down the road once this Hell is over) of sending students down to aid in recovery/rebuilding efforts. CFFH wants to use this opportunity not only to help Haiti during the sudden aftermath of the earthquake but in the long run as well. What was once the most prosperous colony in the Western hemisphere has become (due primarily to outside influences of countries such as the US and France) the poorest. Though this has been a time of great sorrow we can look to the future and see the potential for great success as we build a "new" Haiti

    Paul Cato
    Class 2013