International Project

Haiti’s need recognized by students

By Jeffrey Riley

Talon Staff Writer

“It’s heartbreaking to see such unnecessary suffering,” said senior Fiona Cummings. “The buildings were rubble which forced people to live in cardboard boxes and we had to turn away kids who needed water because of the limited amount,” explained Cummings of the June term trip she took last year.

Even though the 7.0 magnitude earthquake occurred back in January, the disaster is all too current for survivors. Haiti was among the poorest countries in the world prior to the earthquake and conditions dramatically decreased after. With approximately 200,000 dead, one million homeless and a recent cholera outbreak sickening over 3,000,  do the people of the United States still recognize the extent of the disaster?

“We don’t want students to forget,” said International Project intern Madeline Myers. “It’s easy to be apathetic about a disaster that happened so far away, months ago.”

In order to keep this issue prominent in the minds of students, international project interns decided to make Haiti the focus for this school year. Being the first year where students were put in charge of managing the international project, students should expect to see changes from previous years.

The idea of healing a country may seem a bit lofty and more than a small private school in Minnesota may be able to handle, but the International Project interns have an answer. The year will be split up into trimesters, with a separate focus for each phase. The first will primarily focus on hunger, the second on water and the third will be education oriented.

“Our primary goal is to raise awareness and keep students informed in our school,” said Myers. “We can’t let people forget about the horrible conditions.”

In order to raise awareness, students should expect to see many interactive events.

“Student participation is key,” said Myers. “We want people to care.” Events students can expect to see this year will range from trips to Feed My Starving Children to 30-hour Famine and using limited water for a week to a five-k run/walk.

The first of these took place on September 24. Participants engaged in activities such as building a tent from materials limited to a simple tarp and rope on the ground. They also experienced the process of finding their own sources of water which was limited. This exercise gave participants perspective on the lives that Haitians are currently living.

“It was a great activity for people to get together and talk about Haiti,” said Cummings. “With only few supplies, you had to use whatever you can get your hands on to make it work.”

Along with raising awareness, International Project interns also hope to help in the financial area. Monetary donations from students will go to organizations such as Healing Haiti in order to assist in the attempt to restore and rebuild the country.

“Not only is the country only 90 miles away,” said history teacher Elizabeth VanPilsum, “but also in indescribable need.”

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