Hurricane Matthew’s high-powered winds and heavy rain may have narrowly missed Miami, but it left a trail of devastation behind along the East Coast and throughout the Caribbean.
Relief efforts and donation drives are underway across many fronts, including the University of Miami’s Haitian student organization Planet Kreyol, which is collecting supplies for the thousands of people impacted in Haiti.
So far an estimated 1,000 people on the island have died as a result of Hurricane Matthew and the number may keep rising, according to Haitian officials. British newspaper The Guardian recently reported “up to 90% of some areas of southern Haiti are thought to have been destroyed.”
This kind of devastation, coupled with poor infrastructure, has left many Haitians without the proper supplies to recover and reliant on the help of others to get the most basic supplies to help rebuild.
Following a call with the General Consulate of Haiti in Miami, Planet Kreyol’s president, Asia Cadet, contacted UM’s Student Government, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, and the Association of Greek Letter Organizations about possible ways the University can help.
Through their coordinated efforts, the University has set up donation boxes at the Student Center Complex University Center for supplies that will be sent to Haiti. Supplies to be collected include diapers, baby formula, canned food, allergy medicines, multivitamins and dry-eye relief drops.
“The outpouring of support so far has been amazing,” Cadet said. “I’ve received emails from students in Utah, California and even Italy asking how they can donate.”
Other relief efforts at the University are also underway.
One program, Project Medishare, was established in 1994 by UM Drs. Barth Green and Arthur Fournier. Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Project Medishare has sent more than 9,000 volunteers to train doctors, nurses, and other medical staff in Haiti. The organization is currently recruiting more volunteers to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
At the School of Nursing and Health Studies (SONHS), students and faculty are preparing for a scheduled trip to Haiti from October 26 to October 30. Since March 2013, the school has been conducting biannual trips to the Western hemisphere’s poorest country to provide health care services, as well as education and training in primary care delivery for Haitian nurses and physicians.
“Though we travel to Haiti with our students three times a year, those affected by Hurricane Matthew need our help now more than ever. The SONHS is committed to helping the Haitian community,” said Johis Ortega, associate dean for master’s programs and global initiatives.
Upon hearing the news of Hurricane Matthew, plans for the group’s trip to went into high gear. Scott Sloane, a doctor of nursing practice student, contacted local aviation authorities to waive shipment fees for the large load of medical and relief supplies that the SONHS team will utilize and distribute during their trip later this month.
A couple of students have also launched GoFundMe pages to raise money for relief efforts and supplies, which include items such as vitamins, anti-fungal gels, lightweight dried foods, diapers, clothing, blankets, and ibuprofen.
For more on how you can donate to the Haiti relief efforts, contact Asia Cadet at email@example.com or visit the University Center to drop off supplies.