Today is the one-year anniversary of the magnitude-7 earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 230,000 people and left more than 1.5 million others homeless. Those figures are overwhelming to contemplate, and the issues plaguing Haiti 12 months after the disaster perhaps even more so. In the face of this tragedy, I am enormously gratified and proud that Brandeis students remain committed to aiding the people of Haiti today.
Brandeis students today — just like generations of Brandeis students and alumni before them — did not just see the earthquake as a story on television, in newspapers or on news sites. They saw it as something to react to and as a chance to repair the world.
The Brandeis Haiti Relief Effort, founded by Nate Rosenblum and Shaina Gilbert, both Class of 2010, raised nearly $30,000 in emergency and recovery funds for Partners in Health, Hope for Haiti and Empowering Through Education, a camp Gilbert started two years ago. Alumni also joined the effort, including a group of physicians and dentists who volunteered for a medical mission to Les Cayes, a seaport four hours south of Port-au-Prince.
This fall, the initiative transformed into the Brandeis Haiti Initiative (BHI), an extension of the recovery effort that now focuses on issues surrounding education, health and poverty. Napoleon Lherisson ’11 and Jon Ostrowsky ’13 are co-presidents. We will hear more about several large events they have planned this semester, including the second annual “Hoops for Haiti,” an inter-faith prayer service, a panel on health care and medicine in Haiti, and a book drive for the Haitian community in Mattapan.
The Brandeis community made a difference in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake because people from all parts of our community — students, faculty, alumni, staff and the chaplaincy — contributed their time, energy and resources to help others during their darkest hours.
I encourage all of us to remember Haiti and to continue this critically needed effort to aid people who still suffer. BHI is actively recruiting new members to help with event planning, fundraising, educational events, communications and public relations, community advocacy and website design. Please visit the website at brandeis.edu/Haiti to see how you can help, or to make a donation.