Fordham Law Student Group Spends Spring Break Helping in HaitiMarch 19, 2010
Fourteen Fordham Law School students traveled to Haiti during Spring Break 2010 to run a week-long camp for orphans and other children living in a tent camp in Cabaret, 50 miles from Port au Prince. The students, members of the law school’s Disaster Relief Network, partnered with Voices for Haiti and were accompanied to Haiti by the Nitza Escalera, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and photojournalist Hatnim Lee.
“Although the situation in Haiti is stabilizing, the main concern right now is the children,” said law student Ritha Pierre, a DRN member and Haitian-American who forged the relationship between DRN and V4H. “Because of the destruction of schools and orphanages, many children are sitting around all day with nothing to do. In talking to V4H, we decided it would be best to come up with positive activities to engage the children, such as the day-camp program.”
The group has spent the past month collecting sports equipment, badly needed medical supplies and personal hygiene products, and is in the process of raising up to $15,000 toward construction of a permanent recreation area for the children of Cabaret.
DRN is a public interest student group formed in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with a mission of serving populations affected by natural disasters.
The group has made nine trips to the Gulf Coast region during academic breaks, partnering with local governments and non-governmental organizations to provide assistance in legal aid, community organizing, and also manual labor.
“The recent devastating earthquake in Haiti brought images reminiscent of fall 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. The same commitment that brought us there, now brings us to Haiti,” said law student and DRN member Franklin Matranga.
V4H’s executive director Pastor Mario Augustave said he is “very pleased to welcome the Fordham delegation in their show of solidarity with the people of Haiti.” He also said he hopes the Fordham trip will increase awareness of the plight of the children and contribute to the long-term development in Cabaret.
“This is a fact-finding opportunity as well as a relief and solidarity trip,” said law student and DRN member Diana Schaffner. “We would like to establish a lasting relationship with V4H and the people of Cabaret. As future lawyers, we understand the crucial role education plays in rebuilding communities and empowering individuals. It would be incredible if we could spark a sustained effort to help Cabaret reopen its schools and return a sense of normalcy to the lives of the children.”
Contact: Hillary Exter