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January 12 was a traumatic day, not only for Haiti but for the rest of the world as it witnessed an already poor nation plunged into unmentionable depths of humanitarian suffering and widespread devastation. It was 4:53 p.m. local time when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
BBC estimated on January 28 that over 150,000 have died and 1.5 million people are homeless. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented that the disaster is “unimaginable.” Miraculously, people have been rescued alive from the rubble 15 days after the quake struck.
Though it is easy to be overwhelmed by these figures, we must remember that since the quake occurred, the world has seen a great outpouring of help from countries like the Netherlands, the UK and Brazil. Aid is of critical importance to Haitians, and the U.S. has certainly made an important and coordinated effort to support the Haitian government and its people in their recovery.
Principia has been doing its part in this international support effort. Freshman Carolyn Vernon organized a Red Cross donation drive, which was set up at the Info Booth in the Concourse. Vernon said that she had “great sympathy” for the situation and for the people of Haiti, since she has a personal source of motivation.
Vernon’s brother David has been helping with the relief effort in Haiti, having been sent there from his Coast Guard base in Cuba when the earthquake struck. David is helping to find victims in the rubble and to reunite any people found with their family. He has gone to great lengths to support the relief effort in Haiti, even delivering a baby on board a relief ship, according to Vernon.
After hearing about her brother’s efforts, Vernon decided that she had to do something. Once she came up with the Red Cross donation idea, she worked with several others on campus to organize the booth. This group set up table tents in the dining room to advertise. She stated that last week, the total had come to a little over $100.
Another fundraiser that the student body has implemented was the “Money for Plants” scheme, which Vernon believes has raised over $500. Students can buy greenhouse plants for any amount of money they wish to give, and all of the proceeds go to Haitian relief efforts.
Vernon said she believes that at Principia, we have the ability to help through our life experiences and the tools we have to communicate with the wider world. This fundraiser’s results are going towards urgent needs. However, Vernon said she believes that more remains to be done, in particular by the international community.
Vernon said she has “always loved doing community service.” She has done such work in Costa Rica, another poverty stricken country.
Vernon said she believes that if enough people give to charity, Haiti will transform from the poorest country in the Americas (according to the CIA factbook) into a better developed country.