By: Sayde J. Brais
On Jan. 12, 2010, the world watched one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world get practically reduced to rubble underneath one of the worst earthquakes in the region in more than 200 years. It is one month later and the devastation surrounding Haiti continues.
Haiti occupies an area approximately the size of Maryland, in which almost all of its over nine million residents are of African descent and speak Creole and French. Today, most of its capital, Port-au-Prince, lay in ruins. With a history of political instability, corruption, and severe poverty (an estimated four out of five people live in poverty and of those, more than half live in abject poverty), this earthquake has only added to the turmoil.
Almost immediately following the quake, initiatives all over the world began—some by well-known individuals like award-winning singer/song writer and Haiti-native, Wyclef Jean, and many by those just trying to make a difference. UNC Charlotte students along with community members participated in Haiti-focused initiatives. Some simply walked around collecting spare change while others launched full-blown projects. The Iota Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated set up a table in late January to encourage donations of water bottles toward disaster relief.
Coming up is the “Dance 4 Haiti: Dance-a-thon” event presented by the UNC Charlotte Student Alumni Ambassadors on Saturday, Feb. 13. This event mirrors a traditional walk-a-thon but dancing will take place instead starting at 6:00 PM in the SAC Salons.
Also, The College of Education (COED) joined hands with Samaritan's Purse and University City Church to start the “Haitian Children’s Relief” initiative. From Feb. 1-19, donations will be accepted on the lobbies of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of COED. Donations can include new socks, shoes (no name brand), and underwear.
Students with the English Language Training Institute (ELTI) will be collecting hygiene kits in partnership with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program. Anyone interested in contributing should bring a Ziplock bag with the items listed below to the ELTI offices on the 2nd floor of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). Items to include in the bag are: 1 hand towel (16x28 inches), 1 washcloth, 1 wide-tooth comb, 1 nail clipper, 1 bar of soap (bath size in wrapper), 1 toothbrush in original wrapper and 6 band-aids.
Every initiative, donation, and any time spent can help Haiti. The country has a lot of work to do to bring itself back from a disaster of this caliber, and any way we can support them will get them on the track to rebuilding their beloved nation.
If your group is coordinating an initiative to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti, and it’s not mentioned here, feel free to post a comment to let others know.