Heavy rains from Hurricane Jeanne hit Haiti’s northern region and caused deadly mudslides and flooding, most notably in the town of Gonaives. The death toll was around 2,000 with 300,000 left homeless.
The recent damage caused by the hurricanes added to Haiti’s current political turmoil.
Various world-wide organizations and humanitarian workers have been aiding the victims in every way possible, although the violence and lack of security in the country has complicated efforts.
Local groups, such as the Haitian Community Help Center and the Haitian Pastors Association, have gathered donations for the Haitian people.
“Haiti is in a bad situation where things are getting harder everyday,” said Emmanuel Polection, president of the center.
“As Haitians, we are really concerned about the country and this is an ongoing effort until things get back to normal,” he said.
The Haitian Pastors Association works with Haitian churches in the Philadelphia area and helps unite the Haitian community, as well as integrate them into their Philadelphia communities.
According to Jean-Billy Beaufils, a member of the Pators Association, the group sent out letters to area Haitian pastors to collect money for the victims.
“This is not something that can be solved in the next few months,” Beaufils said about the recent devastation.
“There is a deeper problem in Haiti and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
“We are going to continue helping those in Haiti and in the Haitian community in Philadelphia even after this drive is over,” he said.
Guilda Jean-Louis, administrative assistant of Eastern’s nursing department, knows Beaufils and decided to get the university involved in the project.
She sent an e-mail to the Eastern community requesting donations.
Jean-Louis also has family members who live in Haiti.
“I am encouraged to see that the Haitian Community Help Center has responded so well to the challenge that the people of Gonaives are facing,” she said.
Jean-Louis added that they will be collecting donations through November. The center will be sending a group in November to deliver the collected supplies.
The aftermath of the recent hurricanes also touched the life of another Eastern staff member.
Dominga Ramirez, a member of the housekeeping staff, has family members in Panama who were affected by the hurricane.
Her son’s family lives an hour from the coast and lost everything but their house when the nearby river flooded its banks.
Senior Jeremy Kauffman learned of Ramirez’s situation after talking to her one day.
He and some friends decided to pray for her and her family, but they felt that they needed to do more. They believed God was calling them to raise money.
“It felt like something the Lord wanted us to do, and it all kind of fell together because he wanted us to do it,” Kauffman said.
Kauffman talked to the student chaplain program about asking for donations in their Grow Groups. An e-mail was sent out to faculty and administration asking for donations. He also contacted Arthur Jackson, the company that Eastern contracts for housekeeping.
Overall, the efforts of Kauffman and his friends raised $1,662 for the Ramirez family. Eastern students donated $700, Authur Jackson donated $500 and the rest was donated by faculty and administration.
According to Ramirez, her family was greatly appreciative of the donation. She reports that they are doing fine but still have a lot of rebuilding to do.
Regarding the project, Kauffman said, “It was a responsibility and a privilege and I’m glad I could be a part of it.”