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JCU joins Haiti relief effort

January 28th, 2010

On Jan. 12 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the small island nation of Haiti. Devastation shocked the world as 150,000 people were pronounced dead.

That same day John Carroll University alumnus Michael Henry arrived in Haiti to begin HIV and AIDS work with the faith-based organization Cross International. As Projects Officer, Henry was focused on providing support to the Haitians, but his work was quickly redefined.

The organization’s priority then became rescuing people trapped in rubble, getting food and water to communities, and providing medical care to the injured.

According to Henry, the most realistic way for people to help the Haitians is through financial support and raising awareness.

“The media has done a phenomenal job [in bringing attention to the situation], but how long will the fundraising last?” said Henry.

Currently, the JCU community is in the midst of raising funds to help the cause.

Watching the news coverage of the earthquake prompted sophomore Dan Krajcik to organize a dance to raise money.

“I thought [the dance] was a good idea to raise money and would be easy to plan,” said Krajcik.

The dance took place at Jake’s Speakeasy on Saturday, Jan. 23. There was a required $5 donation to attend the event, but Krajcik said many donated more. The event generated more than $1500.

“I’m happy a lot of people came. People said they had a good time and it raised a lot of money,” said Krajcik.

Krajcik plans to donate the proceeds to UNICEF, which helps children misplaced by the earthquake.

Campus Ministry is also collecting check and cash donations, which it will give to Jesuit Relief Services. Donations can be made at various locations around campus, including the Campus Ministry Office, Center for Service and Social Action, the reception desk in Rodman Hall, the Dolan Science Center atrium and in front of the bookstore.

Students also have the opportunity to donate to the Haitian Relief fund during a special all-student mass at Gesu Church on Jan. 31 at 8 p.m., in which there will be a special collection for Haiti.

Another way students can help is through fasting. Students can choose to fast for one meal, sacrificing a meal swipe. Aramark, JCU’s food service, has agreed to donate the cost of the sacrificed meal swipe to the John Carroll Haitian Relief Fund. The date on which students can do this will soon be determined by the Student Union.

According to Henry, there are other important ways to help as well.

“The most important and significant thing that the JCU community could do is pray – for the victims of the earthquake, people of Haiti and the safety of the aid workers there,” said Henry.

Prayer was one of the first actions of the JCU community. A prayer service was held on Jan. 19 for the people of Haiti.

Campus Ministry is continuing to offer prayers for those affected by the earthquake.

Director of Campus Ministry John Scarano said, “Campus Ministry will collect names of family and friends of the JCU community who have been impacted by the earthquake.  We will place the names in St. Francis chapel and remember them in prayer in the upcoming weeks and months.”

Additionally, Jen Ziemke, a political science professor at JCU, is using the method of crisis mapping to help locate victims of the earthquake. Ziemke and other crisis mappers use text messages, twitter feeds and other electronic modes of communication to locate people in Haiti and send help to them.

In a radio interview with National Public Radio affiliate WCPN, Ziemke said, “We comb for any information that we can geo-reference and place in real time on maps so that disaster responders can get to the places people need it most.”

While these efforts are ongoing, Scarano feels students will get more involved in the coming weeks. Because the earthquake occurred while JCU was on break, Scarano believes that it will take some time for students to organize more efforts to help Haiti.

Scarano said, “Many groups have yet to meet for the first time.  I fully expect our students to come up with many proposed projects to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.”