Student-organized campus vigil for Haiti will be held Wednesday

Event will take place in the Shapiro Campus Center atrium from 6 – 8 p.m.

Earthquake devastation in the Haitian town of Leogane

A group of Brandeis students has organized a Jan. 20 vigil for Haiti. Community members are invited to come together in the Shapiro Campus Center atrium from 6–8 p.m. for prayers, songs, and fundraising for relief efforts. The death toll from last week’s devastating 7.0 earthquake has now risen to an estimated 200,000 people. Wednesday’s vigil is being organized by Shaina Gilbert ’10 and Napolean Lherisson ‘11, who both have ties to Haiti.
Lherisson, whose parents are Haitian, says the earthquake has galvanized Brandeis students. “A lot of folks are talking about this in their classes,” Lherisson said. “We just want to continue to support relief efforts right now. This is the kind of thing that Brandeis is all about.”
Lherisson and Gilbert are also focused on the long-term, as members of the Brandeis chapter of The Global Haiti Initiative. The intercollegiate group’s mission is to help foster developmental programs in the country.
In addition, Gilbert is one of the founders of ETE Camp, a free program that aims to empower some of Haiti’s neediest youth to become tomorrow's leaders. The day camp strengthens children’s academic skills, increases their self-confidence, and builds community and parental support for their continuing education.
Professor Jane Hale, who teaches a course on Haiti and has long worked with Waltham’s Haitian community, is also stressing the importance of focusing on the future by contributing to organizations, like ETE Camp, that have longstanding, sustainable ties to the country. She also suggested supporting local Haitian painter Fred Cadet, who is donating 70 percent of the proceeds he receives from sales of his paintings to relief efforts. You can view some of Cadet’s work here. Two years ago, Hale’s French class sponsored an on-campus show of Cadet’s paintings.
For those who can’t make it to the Jan. 20 vigil, there will be a table in the Shapiro Campus Center atrium throughout the day Wednesday where community members can donate to the university’s relief fund, and have the Haitian flag painted on their face in a sign of solidarity.

Click here to read professor Laurence Simon's letter on other ways to give wisely to Haiti.

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