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    Guyanese Students in Support of Haiti

    Help for Haiti

    Caribbean students making a difference  

    Hurricane Matthew

    Haiti had only just begun rebuilding from a devastating earthquake six years ago when hurricane Matthew tore through the small Caribbean nation in October 2016. Once again the country was plunged into a disaster zone. Thousands of  citizens lost their lives , and many more were displaced. Without basic human necessities food,  water , clothing , shelter…

    8,652 miles away Dason Mckenzie, a Guyanese Medical student, along with Luanettee  and LaVana Colebrooke , and friend Roodelin  Jean -a  Haitian national and Advisor of the Haitian Student Association in China, watched as reports of the disaster flooded their social network pages. This  was indeed a restless time for all Caribbean nations as they watched a sister nation become ravished once again.

    Official reports started pouring in about the death tolls and damage caused by hurricane Matthew. What could they do to help?

    Call to action

    Roodelin in a interview with CCNU said that he felt, as a Haitian, he needed to do everything that was possible to assist his people , and posted about the disaster on his WeChat Moments. As simple as that, messages of comfort and support  from friends from  all across China poured in. The post was shared several times over . People wanted to help.

     

    Dason and Roodelin  decided a  call to action was needed and an interesting idea came to mind. They decided to partner with an existing clothing brand to “provide  clothes to those who have lost theirs”.  The idea was thrown about to friends in Wuhan and was immediately well-received. Groups were set and drop-off points  identified. 

     

    According to Roodelin, the influx of donations were slow at first, but soon picked up speed as word began to spread on social media.

     

     

     

    Meanwhile in Dalian

    A fellow Guyanese medical student in Dalian Medical University , Theresa Sarju read a Wechat post about the movement in Wuhan and felt moved by the gesture. Being a person who is passionate about the needs of others, Theresa decided to join her country mates and other Dalian-based Caribbean students in taking action and joined the initiative.

    The team also started a donation drive for clothing, food  items and footwear. According to Theresa the response was “surprisingly overwhelming”, despite  being given only three days to collect the items. She happily noted that they had to extend the timeline as “things just kept coming in” and the only challenge was in getting the vast amount of items transported to Wuhan as the majority of persons involved were scholarship students. This however did not stop them and through their joint efforts, money to cover shipping expenses was raised through  bake and cake sales, which was widely supported. She noted too “that it  was great to see Caribbean students working together to help despite being all the way in China. The group’s effort was widely supported by their colleagues from around the world, who were in admiration of the “Caribbean community and their efforts.”

    Their goal was to support as much as they possibly could and that is exactly what they did.

    Back in Wuhan...

    Donations were pouring  in from local businesses, non-profits and other partners.  Over 100 t-shirts were also donated, with inspirational messages inscribed on each.  

    Roodelin and Dason and their team   of the Drkes Foundation believe in inspiring others to make a difference wherever they are. They believed in Haiti and its potential to become stronger and prosper economically, so as to give its citizens more opportunities to grow. 

     

               

    Although their efforts were not without challenges - Dason observed that the largest of these was in shipping the items to Haiti, due to tight regulations. They were however able to cope with these challenges with the support of local businesses.  They are truly grateful for all the help received.

    Message of Hope

    This group has indeed shown the meaning of community and cooperation and its ability to change the world.  Despite the challenges faced, these students  have shown that with dedication and purpose, and in spite of distances, we can help those in need.

      

    Author: Kayshell M. Jennings

                  Guyanese Medical Student

                 Peking University Health Science Center

                 Beijing China

     

     

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