A small and determined group of Ursinus students are preparing for a humanitarian trip to the Caribbean nation of Haiti next month. Fourteen students, led by senior Christie Lehman, will leave on March 2 to work for one week with a group based in Haiti called Mission of Hope (www.mohhaiti.org). This is a completely student-organized activity and not an Ursinus College trip.
“It has always been in my heart to go to Haiti and help, so this trip has been a huge blessing,” says Lehman. “Plans have been underway all year long and now with tickets purchased and donations in the making, the group is very excited for our journey. We will directly be working in and ministering to a number of orphanages. We will also be assisting in construction work to help build homes for those displaced by the earthquake.”
The impoverished country continues to recover from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit in January 2010. The death count conservatively was estimated at 220,000. As a result of the earthquake, the Presidential palace, Parliament and many other buildings were destroyed, along with thousands of homes and businesses. Outbreaks of cholera and rampant crime have added to the burden of recovery for one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, according to the U.S. State Department.
For Lehman and the other students, spring break is the perfect time to help others. “Ursinus is comprised of incredible people,” she says. “I knew if I gave it my all to plan that other students would feel compelled to spend spring break bringing light to a broken community.”
The students raised money for the trip and hope to bring donated shoes, clothes and other items to Haiti. They have met weekly in order to prepare, says Lehman, discussing “cultural differences, emotional and spiritual conflicts, and growing as a group.”
“I am very passionate about outreach work, so I researched different organizations to go through and felt that Mission of Hope was one of the best,” says Lehman, a psychology major. “It really strives for long-term sustainability and makes sure their work and the American presence is beneficial to the Haitian community.” Among the students traveling with Lehman to Haiti are Ashley Sivo, Stefan Johnson, Katy Martin, Jessica Peterson, Liora Mor, Ja’Naya Alexander and Jennilyn Weber.