Haitian Cultural Club initiates drive for disaster victims

It has been two months since Florida and the Caribbean were hit by several back-to-back hurricanes, and some places like Haiti are still recovering from the devastation.

To help, the Haitian Cultural Club is having a clothes and book drive through Nov. 12 that will aid victims in Haiti.

Hurricane Jeanne ripped through the country of Haiti and left massive flooding. According to an article in The Miami Herald, the storm left almost 2,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.

Jeanne left the island of Gonaives destitute and desperate for aid.

Some of Haiti may have been dismantled, but the spirit of the members of the HCC remains strong.

The HCC is an organization of Haitian students at the campuses of FAMU, FSU and TCC. When members of the club found out about the flooding, some were in dismay.

“I was devastated to be honest with you,” said HCC member Kerline Phelizor, a 23-year-old senior from Pompano Beach.

“How much torture can Haiti go through? It’s just not fair. Haiti doesn’t deserve that,” Phelizor said.

In response to the tragedy, the organization decided to sponsor a clothes drive. Jeanette George is a FAMU stu dent and is also president of HCC. George said she has high expectations for the drive.

“We are trying to get between 1,000 to 2,000 boxes (of clothes and books),” said George, 23, a senior accounting student from Nassau, Bahamas.

With what is going on in Haiti with their unstable government and gangs that have plagued the country, the morale of the impoverished nation is low.

Bernard Fils-Aime, general manager at Comcel, a cell phone company in Haiti, said, “Our limitations in appropriate response to these disasters are a reflection of our national crisis. People are therefore generally stressed,” Fils-Aime said.

Fils-Aime said Haiti’s landscape contributed to the destruction of the flooding that took place this year.

“In 1950, 40 percent of Haiti’s landscape was covered with forests; today it is at less than 1.5 percent,” Fils-Aime said.

The lack of support from the United States has also given some Haitians a foul taste. Some Haitians said U.S. aid has been less than comparable to what it should be.

“(It was) like a slap in the face,” George said in response to the United States giving the nation $60,000 in aid for flood damage.

Other places throughout the city have contributed to the HCC’s clothing drive. Churches such as Maranatha Seventh Day Adventist Church and St. Thomas Moore have sent clothes to the organization; however, the HCC is still inviting other participants.

This drive is not the first time the HCC has stepped to the plate to help Haiti.

When a flood struck in May, the HCC teamed up with other Haitian student organizations to help victims.

Phelizor said that with the current clothes drive, she feels the club is doing “a wonderful job.”

The organization has already received several boxes but is still short of its goal.

The HCC has sponsored a talent show in order to get donations for Haiti. The club continues to find means to advertise their needs for clothes, food and books.

contact rudy jean-bart at rudyjeanbart@excite.com.