Students respond to disaster with donations

Natalie Herzig

     Haiti was recently struck with the country’s most severe earthquake in over 200 years. The epicenter of the quake was just outside the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince and it has been estimated that the death toll in that area could reach over 200,000. The tremor occurred January 12 near the northern boundary where the Caribbean tectonic plate shifts eastwards relative to the North American plate. For the people of Haiti, this meant disaster. Most suffer from lost homes and business, other from the loss of loved ones. Unfortunately, this was not the beginning, and will not be the end of trouble for the Haitians.

    One of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, Haiti has been struggling with problems ranging from near-constant political upheaval, health crises, severe environmental degradation and an annual barrage of hurricanes. Now the capital city, Port-au-Prince, lays in ruins and hundreds of Haitians lie trapped in rubble that was once an abundance of government buildings and shanty towns. Haiti is widely known as the poorest country in the western hemisphere with an unemployment rate of 70 percent.

     In this rural land, malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, intestinal parasites and sexually transmitted diseases take a toll on the population. It is estimated that HIV is high as 11 percent. However, there is less than one doctor per eight-thousand people. Obviously, they were not well equipped for this disaster.  Fortunately, many countries and organizations have lent a helping hand in the relief effort. 

     The United States has sent by far the most money and resources of any other country. Days after the disaster, President Obama pledged a 100 million dollar donation and Britain followed suit, pledging a £6.15m contribution. Aside from fiscal donations, the US and Britain are among many other countries to send their medics and armed forces. 3,500 US soldiers from the 82 Airborne Division are currently in Port au Prince to assist with the disaster relief and security. The Disasters Emergency Committee, a coalition of 13 relief agencies, is taking donations on a special phone line, 0370 60 60 900, and through its website. Many individuals have taken money out of their own pockets to donate to those in Haiti. CPHS’s own Hope for Haiti has helped enormously with the school’s  contribution to the disaster relief. The Hope for Haiti organization set up tables in the cafeteria to accept donations and inform CPHS students about the cause. Co-creators Viabhav Sapuram and Holly Chisholm were able to send CHPS’s donation along with the adjoining donations of the other LISD high schools to Save the Children. In the future, Sapuram and Chisholm plan to team up with Westwood for a charity run to keep money going to the many in need.

      “We had heard what happened and we knew that lots of relief was going out there,” Holly Chisholm, junior, said. “We felt that we should do something because of all the people that needed food and water,”

     Hope for Haiti was able to send a donation of about 2,000 dollars to the organization Save the Children.

     “We’ve been getting lots of support. I know a lot of students who have contributed really generous donations.” Chisholm said. “I know someone who donated 50 dollars. It has been really cool to see.”

     As the chaos unfolds in Haiti, there are more and more stories in the media portraying the turmoil. Everywhere you look in Haiti, there is suffering, but amidst the commotion it is important to remember the stories of triumph, compassion and healing. There was a time when Haiti was known for the indigenous Haitian traditions of Carnival and Haitian Voodoo. Now, Haiti will always be remembered for the January 12 earthquake which measured 7.0 on the Richter scale.