I have committed myself to going to Haiti for Spring Break. Now others rely on me.
January 12. I was in the kitchen with my mother and older brother. My mother sat facing the TV. I stood just to the side. My brother was rinsing his cup out in the sink. The news was on. My mother’s shocked face and her abrupt silence, caused me to turn my attention.
A few minutes had passed and realization of what had happened was sinking in. Sadly, it was only beginning. Commercials interrupted our silence. My brother said something along the lines of, “Well, looks like I’ll be in Haiti for Spring Break.” Perhaps it was only wishful thinking, but his sentence sparked the tinder in my heart and mind.
“Why?” I asked.
“Why not?” he answered.
After searching various websites, including Matador, for ways I could volunteer, I concluded no opportunity existed for me to help.
I refused to accept that. I started asking how I could help. The consensus was to donate money. Let the experts do the work that needs to be done; there isn’t room for you.
“I can only sit around and give money I don’t have?”
I started scouring the comments of the articles here at Matador, looking for anything. Eventually I found Vladimir. He was in Haiti, he had a Facebook group, he had pictures and information up. I messaged him. I told him I wanted to help.
In the meantime, I was spreading the word around campus and the Internet. I received plenty of positive feedback, especially from Lindsay, a young woman in Texas. She now has her own trip going to Haiti for students at Texas State University. With her ideas, encouragement, and cheer, my own project started to build.
I received a message from Christy, a kind young woman who works with Vladimir and is a part of the Haiti Volunteer Project. They would be delighted to have me and whoever else can join us to volunteer in Haiti.
She was probably unaware of it, but she had just given me my bearing.
It’s the night of January 28th. I’m sitting behind a wooden table in one of the corners of the softly lit coffee house I frequent. I’m waiting for 8:30 and for all of the people who were interested in going to Haiti to show up. Expecting only five or six people to show up, I’m surprised to find nearly 15 people, each one interested and full of ideas.
Over the next week, I sent out emails with information, updates, and plans. We had our next meeting. I answered questions, not all of which were within my grasp, but I was honest with people and they accepted that.
I gave out orders, suggestions, and requests. I was leading us somewhere, I wasn’t sure exactly where yet.
Over the course of the next two nights, five of us from the group, which we had dubbed “Students Helping Haiti,” spent our nights out in the Iowa winter to raise money.
The University of Iowa has an active nightlife so we split into two groups and held up posters we had made the night before, after the meeting. I had used stick glue to adhere to poster board not even an hour before. We stood downtown amongst the drunks and soon-to-be drunks. We used five-gallon buckets procured from a local restaurant. They were tainted by the smell of pickles. We asked for money. It was a success, but we still had a long way to go.
We’re now pursuing as many avenues of fundraising as possible to be able to travel to Haiti. We will continue to go out on the weekends and ask businesses for help. However, we realized that we were ignoring the largest collective of potential sponsors. You. Individuals. Now, we are reaching out to everyone for help.
With the help of our local community, and the community that exists here, we will fly to Port-Au-Prince and drive south to Les Cayes. There, we will hire Haitians to cook our meals, putting money into the economy. We’ll help at the orphanage, the hospital, or the field hospital.
We will be there to simply lend our energy, our support, and our smiles. No task will be too small or too big for us to help with.
We want to represent you, the world, and the human race. We want to experience Haiti. We want to help.
The Helping Hand
I come to this network because it’s a community of people with common interests and a common mindset. We are all students of the world, or desire to be so. We all have open minds, hearts that care, and an awareness about the power of the individual.
We look to you for help. By supporting Students Helping Haiti, you have a direct impact on Haiti. After the trip, you will be able to see pictures, videos, and read stories and accounts of our trip. In us, you have faces to put to the cause.
We currently have 17 volunteers. With costs estimated to be approximately $1,000 per volunteer, we have to raise a lot of money. This is where you can lend the help we need to help Haiti.
If you would like to donate money to Students Helping Haiti, the easiest method is by PayPal. Donate by logging into PayPal. Click “Send Money”; enter the email address email@example.com; select “Personal, Gift”; enter your amount; click “Continue.”
Any questions, comments, or concerns otherwise you can also email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Regardless of your contribution, we would like to thank you for the opportunity, for simply caring enough to read and for being an individual.
To read about other ways you can help young people experience the world and, in doing so, positively impacting others, please read about Matador’s Brave New Travelers scholarship fund.