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Students still needed to aid Haiti after disaster

Groups working in Haiti after a devastating earthquake last year are looking for University of Miami students who might be interested in helping rebuild the country.
As the rainy season approaches, the streets of Haiti are still lined up with thousands of tents that provide shelter for about one million people who are still homeless. A few months past the one year mark, Haiti is still recovering from the catastrophic earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people.

On Monday, the Haiti Research Group held a forum discussing Haiti’s housing crisis and the importance of student involvement. Organizations such as Haiti Aid Watchdog provide internships and volunteer opportunities for students.

“The most a student can do is to bring that truth to light and push the government to do right or risk losing the support it needs from the international community,” said Mike Michel, a member of UM’s Haitian Students Organization.

Colette Lespinasse, a Haitian journalist and social worker, focused on the citizens still in tents and the issues they face on a daily basis.

“The authorities do not monitor the tents so civilians are left to defend themselves and women are sexual abused. Pregnancy rates have increased in these communities,” Lespinasse said.

Thousands of Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGOs, have sprouted in Haiti since the earthquake to help with housing, food and other concerns. Event coordinator, Kate Ramsey addressed this issue.

“There was a mutual concern among the panelists that there needs to be tighter regulation of the NGOs that work in the country,” she said. “They ought not to impose their own top-down agendas but rather respect priorities set by local communities, working in partnership with them.”

Mikayla Vielot may be contacted at mvielot@themiamihurricane.com.

March 10, 2011

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Mikayla Vielot


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