Community Initiates Response for Haiti

By Jesse Zhang
Published: January 2010

Fifteen days after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti and forever changed the lives of three million people on January 12, communities across the planet have contributed to alleviating the Haitians of their suffering.

More than a million and a half Haitians are homeless; 150 thousand are dead; and 194 thousand are injured according to CNN. Today, Haiti has received over $1.12 billion in international aid pledges. South has raised over $4600 cash for Haiti.

The South community responded to the Haitian catastrophe only two days after the earthquake. Prevention and Intervention Counselor Rich Catrambone, METCO Counselor Katani Sumner, and Housemaster Donna Gordon organized a formal meeting for students and the South Senate in the lecture hall on January 14, and students from all grades and backgrounds participated in the discussion that afternoon.

“[What struck Haiti is] not like Boston being wiped out, but like the State of California, proportionally,” Catrambone said during the meeting.

On January 15, parents dropping off their children in the morning were greeted by students carrying giant “Help Haiti” signs, who also set up a table during lunch asking for donations. The South community gathered over $3000 on the first day, according to senior Sam Hyun.

“[I'm] really impressed with the interest and energy of our student body in responding to human tragedy in Haiti,” Principal Joel Stembridge said. “It’s wonderful to see our students work together.”

Several student organizations and events have already made efforts to raise money for the cause. Water Aid International held the WAI Funny event on January 22, donating its profits to supplying water to earthquake victims. Several student music groups will perform in the Invisible Children Benefit Concert on January 29 for earthquake victims and child soldiers. The Senior and Junior Class Officers will match donations made at Winter Prom on January 30.

Students are organizing a faculty luncheon that will raise money for earthquake victims on February 4. Sudbury Farms will donate most of the food for the event, which the students will prepare themselves. A Haiti Benefit concert is set to take place within the next month and will feature musical groups from both South and North including Pajammin’, Newtones, and Vitamin Seed.

Students are also organizing less formal fundraisers outside of their activities. Senior Yong Won helped raise over $1200 through his church fundraiser.

“I learned that even if we are high schoolers and society thinks of teenagers as immature and irresponsible kids, we have some of the brightest minds,” Won said. “I think it’s pretty impressive how some groups morphed and were flexible enough to help Haiti.”

“I think it’s important that before considering ourselves as Americans, highschoolers, or anything else, we know that we are a part of the society of the people as a whole,” freshman Elena Byun said. “Acknowledging that we are one community is critical in understanding that helping those in Haiti, despite the little connection we seem to have with them, is no different than helping ourselves.”

The destination of the charity money has been a concern for many throughout fundraising efforts. In the aftermath of previous disasters, certain online groups arose claiming to collect funds towards the rescue efforts while in fact retaining all the money for themselves.

Gordon assured students that their efforts would be directed in the right direction.

“[We are] donating specifically to the Red Cross so that the money won’t go to the corrupt,” Gordon said.

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