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Connecticut College Haiti Response Committee organizes events for April 8-10

The College community is mobilizing to help Haiti in the wake of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.

The Connecticut College Haiti Response Committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students, is organizing a series of educational and fundraising events for April 8-10. The committee is co-chaired by the directors of the College´s interdisciplinary academic centers.

The committee is planning presentations and lectures on the culture and history of Haiti; a Hope for Haiti dinner, similar to the Oxfam dinner held in the fall; and performances at which donations will be collected at the door.

All funds raised will go into an account set up by the College to be donated to one or more nonprofit organizations. The committee is currently researching organizations.

On Feb. 19, the committee hosted a common hour to share information about Haiti’s history, the current situation there and the recovery process as well as their upcoming plans. Becca Cheney ’12, who is coordinating student fundraising, encouraged other student clubs to join in the fundraising efforts, and requested that all money raised be directed to the school’s account.

“We want everyone to get involved — students, staff and faculty — to demonstrate the compassion this campus has,” Cheney said.

“This was a disaster of historic magnitude,” said Doug Thompson, geology professor and director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment. He stressed the need for safer buildings that can better stand up to earthquakes as well as the island’s other, more frequent natural disaster — hurricanes. “This is a decade’s worth of work,” he said.

Catherine Benoît, professor of anthropology who has worked extensively in Haiti and has many friends there, said nearly 4 million of Haiti’s 9.8 million people were affected by the earthquake, which killed at least 230,000 and injured 300,000 more. Almost 40 percent of the buildings in Port-au-Prince, the capital, were destroyed, she said.

“Most of my friends lost their homes,” Benoît said.

Penney Jade Beaubrun ’11, who was raised in Haiti and lived there for 15 years, added a poignant appeal of her own.

“My house collapsed. My high school is gone. My dad is homeless,” said Beaubrun, who now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Please come, gather your friends, come to the events. I would really appreciate it.”

-Phoebe Hall

March 11, 2010