Page 13 Cartoons

Helping Haiti to help itself

March 27, 2008

The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere is merely a few hundred miles from the tip of Florida. What was once France’s richest colony and the first Caribbean island to gain its independence is now a country where people lack the basic amenities of the 20th century—running water, electricity and plumbing. Haiti is an incredibly beautiful island, but it has been afflicted and bankrupted for decades by despotism and conflict.

The Caribbean Culture Circle (CCC) has reached out to Haiti through the charitable organization Vwa Ayiti (Voice of Haiti) for the last several years. Vwa Ayiti, as the organization’s mission states, is a Washington-based nonprofit organization “dedicated to self-determined, self-sustaining community development initiatives across Haiti.” Their ultimate goal is to facilitate Haiti helping itself.

When we raised money for Vwa Ayiti for the first time during the 2006-2007 academic year, the money was responsible for building a public restroom by December 2007. Though plumbing is a convenience that Georgetown students take for granted, it is a basic amenity that many people in Haiti do not have. Events Coordinator Garvey Pierre (COL ’08), who has been directly involved with Vwa Ayiti since December 2006, helped with the building of this public facility.

In fact, it was Pierre who suggested that the we help sponsor Vwa Ayiti’s work in Haiti. Under former president Karine Noncent (COL ’07), the club made the decision to “make a difference in the Caribbean community” and to shed the club’s reputation for parties and socializing.

Akite Daniel (NHS ’10), the CCC Campus Outreach Officer, said, “I think we have made a significant impact because we know where we have come from, and we have a strong commitment to give back.”

While Haiti may be the first island that the CCC has reached out to, it will not be the only one.

“We should be open to support any NGO which can offer something positive to the Caribbean community,” Pierre said.

As this is only the second year that CCC has fundraised for a nonprofit organization, this goal will not be realized for several years, but our group is determined to extend out towards other islands

One of CCC’s fundraising events for Vwa Ayiti is the annual Date Auction. Students volunteer to stroll the catwalk and auction themselves off, and every Georgetown student is invited to participate in this event, regardless of whether or not they are of Caribbean heritage. This year, the event had over forty participants of different ethnic backgrounds. Not only did the event raise over $2,150 for Vwa Ayiti, it also pulled a large and diverse crowd. President Camelia McRae (COL ’08) stresses that CCC’s main goal is to increase campus awareness.

“The more Georgetown gets involved, the more money we’re able to raise,” she said.

We extend open arms toward other groups on campus that would like to collaborate to help pursue the CCC’s goals. Since its inception in 1991, the CCC has extended out toward both Caribbean and non-Caribbean students through general group meetings, parties and events. The group strives not only to promote cultural awareness of the Caribbean, but to stress the fact that you do not have to be Caribbean to care about Caribbean people, and we welcome any group or individual that would like to further our initiative in the West Indies.

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