The UC Haiti Initiative will host “Health in Haiti” as part of A.S. Human Rights Board’s Human Rights Week this evening at 6:30.
The event, held in Harold Frank Hall, room 1104, will feature accounts by UCSB students Kelsey Maloney and Tom Oliver on their experiences traveling to the impoverished nation to provide aid. In addition, Haitian grassroots journalist Wadner Pierre and director of international programs for Direct Relief International Brett Williams will speak about poverty and disease in the nation.
Maloney will talk about building houses in Haiti with the nonprofit organization Un Techo para mi País. She said she hopes the event will remind the campus community that Haiti is still desperate for support.
“After the earthquake disaster, Haiti was in the news a lot, but then it kind of faded into the background,” Maloney said. “They are still in a state of emergency and need our help.”
According to UCSB Chapter President of the UC Haiti Initiative Emily Utschig, the event will aim to increase awareness among students about Haiti’s worsening health concerns.
“What put Haiti back in the news was the recent outbreak of cholera,” Utschig said. “They’re still living in the tent towns and sanitation is a big problem. We can’t forget about the people there and their situation.”
According to Maloney, Pierre will be discussing his experience with the nation’s health issues and the measures Haiti’s citizens have resorted to in times of extreme poverty.
“‘Mud cookies are basically mud mixed with different food products,” Maloney said. “They are what some of the desperately impoverished people have resorted to eating there.”
Oliver will discuss his efforts with Intelligent Mobility, a group that provides rugged wheelchairs for differently abled people in Haiti.
“Tom has been doing a lot of good work there,” Maloney said. “The wheelchairs are able to go over terrain that is unpaved and would do damage to a normal wheelchair. It’s been a lot of help to those with mobility issues.”
The event will end with a panel discussion where the speakers will take questions from the audience about the talk or their volunteer work.
“Our goal is to open a discussion about the problems facing Haiti and motivate people to take the steps to make a difference,” Utschig said. “We really need people to care about this issue if we want things to get better there.”
Utschig said anyone interested in getting involved with the Haiti relief effort should join the UC Haiti Initiative on campus.
“Our meetings are set for Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Building 387, room 101,” Utschig said. “It’s a good way for concerned people to get involved and it’s open to students, faculty, staff and even alumni.”
For every person in attendance, Direct Relief International will donate $1 to grassroots organizations in Haiti.
“It’s also extra credit for a lot of the global studies classes,” Utschig said. “People can come for that and then find out really pertinent information on a topic they may not know much about.”