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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Students Provide Relief to Haitians Affected by Hurricane Jeanne

It only took a few hours for a hurricane to bring an island nation to its knees. But it will take months-if not years-for Haiti to recover from Hurricane Jeanne. The Haitian American Society is making sure help is on its way.

UMass Boston students have committed themselves to being part of the relief effort to restore Haiti from the storm that hit late last September, leaving 1,900 dead, 1,000 missing, and 300,000 homeless. The Haitian American Society, a student-run club supported by the UMass Boston Black Student Center and African Studies Department, has been collecting food, clothing, medical supplies, and monetary donations in an effort to relieve Haiti from the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne.

Donations are sent to the First Haitian Baptist Church in Roxbury, where they will be forwarded to the western coast of Gonaives, Haiti. Gonaives is said to be the most heavily affected region of the country, with a death toll of 600. Massive deforestation and soil erosion prior to the onset of the storm intensified flooding in Gonaives, and flash flooding destroyed many homes, crops, and lives. Bodies are still being uncovered as the nation continues to sift through hurricane debris.”

Survivors fight over supplies such as gasoline, propane, charcoal, and scraps of food. The scarcity of such goods has caused inflation, creating more havoc for the already impoverished nation. Thousands of Haitians wait for relief, but for some, relief may never come as internal warfare rages around them.

“This disaster has affected not just the nation of Haiti but all Haitians,” said Bethanie Petit-Frere, president of the Haitian American Society. “As a community, we need to stick together and provide aid to those in need.”

The estimated time to rebuild Haiti is uncertain. “This is going to be a process, not just one step,” said Theressa Myrthil, an active member of the Haitian American Society and First Haitian Baptist Church. “But I have faith that-in my lifetime-things will change for the better. We have to remember that the United States is a fortunate country, and we need to take the initiative to help those in need-in Haiti and where ever else help is needed.”

The Haitian American Society has been collecting disaster-relief items from the campus community and surrounding neighborhoods since October 4, and will continue to receive contributions until November 5. Collection boxes are located on the first floor of most campus buildings, like: McCormack, Wheatley, Science Center, Campus Center. Monetary donations should be made out to the Citizen’s Bank Haiti Relief Fund. Among organizations assisting the Haitian American Society in relief efforts is African American Response; they will be contributing the first drop-off of their Golden Key clothing drive to the cause. The First Baptist Church will host a gospel music fund-raising concert on November 7. Other plans and programs to aid the country are in progress.

“We should always help one another,” said Theressa Myrthil. “Helping one another unites us. It brings us together for the common cause. And who knows when we will need our own help.”

For more information about the Haitian American Society and the First Haitian Baptist Church, email [email protected] or visit the Campus Center, Section 3100.