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Haiti Day to Raise Funds, Awareness for Recovery

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April 12, 2010 – The Georgetown community is devoting 12 hours of action on April 12 in recognition of Haiti Day -- set to remember victims of the recent earthquake and raise awareness about the island nation’s recovery.

Book-ended by prayer services at noon and 11 p.m., the event includes cultural, development and spiritual explorations of Haiti and ways for the community to raise money and get involved in long-term recovery efforts.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the university community for its commitment to an ongoing response to the situation in Haiti,” said President John J. DeGioia in a letter to the university community. “Over the past three months, the Georgetown community has actively supported critical relief efforts by contributing time, expertise and funds, and these generous efforts continue to reflect the best of our campus community.”

Georgetown is one of 14 institutions in the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area to mark the day with events to honor Haiti. All proceeds raised on Haiti Day will go toward Georgetown’s Haiti Relief and Recovery Fund, which now has about $45,000.

Coming Together for Haiti

The Center for Social Justice, Research, Teaching and Service is leading the Haiti Day effort on campus with the help of offices across the university. The collaboration has allowed for a varied slate of events meant to appeal to a diverse audience, said organizer Meg MacWhirter, program manager in the Office of the President.

Two Georgetown University Hospital doctors will discuss their health-related relief network while another session focuses on microfinancing in Haiti. Professors and practitioners also will discuss international development and humanitarian career possibilities in the country.

Music performances, an art show and a film screening will feature Haitian culture.

“The cultural aspects of the art, music and food of Haiti helps remind us that this isn’t only a country that experienced a tragedy,” MacWhirter said.

Anthony Peña (SFS’10), president of the Caribbean Culture Circle, said Georgetown’s mission of service to others “obligates us to help.”

“But we’re not just obligated by who we are as a Georgetown community -- we’re obligated as people,” he said. “What happened in Haiti was devastating, and it will take efforts from many people for a successful resurrection in Haiti.”

A Hoya Visits Haiti

Tom Hoare (SCS’12), one of many Georgetown community members who have traveled to Haiti for relief efforts, helped coordinate the recent trip former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton took on behalf of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

“You’re just taken aback by the level of destruction near the epicenter. Cement roofs pancaked houses, and entire buildings are just gone,” said Hoare, a former Bush administration staffer. “These images will never fade from memory.”

Hoare visited 10 camps for displaced Haitians, witnessing tent cities that have sprung up around the capital, Port-au-Prince. While the former presidents got a clear picture of the devastation, Hoare said the delegation also noticed the hope Haitians have for the future.

Entrepreneurs have reopened small businesses and created new ventures in the camps, he said, to provide employment and services that have been lacking since the earthquake.

“Haitians are resilient people,” Hoare said. “We owe it to them to do the best we can to help with their country’s recovery.”

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