On Jan. 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the country of Haiti. While the suffering of the Haitian people was evident, people on a different continent were also affected.
Students Save Haiti (SSH) is a community service organization that was established to help support the people of Haiti. The purpose of SSH is to educate the children in Haiti, provide for those in need and enhance Haitian culture.
“What inspired me to start this organization was the fact that the media solely focused on Port-Au-Prince as being the only area affected,” said Widline Ciceron, 21, a fourth-year cardiopulmonary science student from Pompano Beach, Fla., and president of SSH. “This caused all the donations that people were sending to go straight there.”
For some, reaching out to Haiti is just a kind gesture. For Ciceron, there lies more meaning.
“The earthquake itself killed a lot of my family on my father’s side which lived Léogâne,” Ciceron said. “In the midst of the earthquake aftermath, I lost an additional three people from my mother’s side.”
One way SSH raises money is by providing students with home-cooked Haitian meals. On Friday, SSH will be having a Haitian food sale. The menu includes fish, fried plantains, Haitian patties and Haitian cake.
SSH membership chair, Jessica Farmer, 21, a fourth-year english student from Deerfield Beach, Fla., said SSH is extremely important to her.
“I wasn’t directly affected by the earthquake,” Farmer said. “But I consider two of my friends like my extended family. So indirectly, yes.”
Members hope to raise $1,000 to provide three students in Haiti with a scholarship. While the goal hasn’t been reached, they are confident they will reach it next year.
“The organization has been very successful,” Farmer said. “Students have donated unused clothing and toiletries to us and we have used the money we raised from food sales to send them off to Haiti. We actually have reliable sources in Haiti so we know that what we send off arrives to them. What we do is never in vain.”
After items are collected, Ciceron packs everything in her truck and drives back to Pompano Beach, where her mother helps her sort the items, box them and ship them to Haiti by boat.
While the organization was created to aid the people of Haiti after the earthquake, SSH has no plans of stopping.
“Even before the earthquake, Haiti could always stand for some help, whether it was something small like some donated clothes or big like new houses,” Farmer said. “I don’t want the group to become a memory of what a couple of kids did just because Haiti had a massive earthquake.”