UCSB graduate student Nicolás Pascal’s philanthropic efforts have expanded beyond California’s border with the help of the University of California Haiti Initiative.
Pascal, a global and international studies major, is the adviser of the UCSB Human Rights Council, which has evolved into the Associated Students Human Rights Board. Pascal founded the organization three years ago to create a forum for students, staff and faculty members to discuss the advocacy of civil rights.
He also cofounded UCHI — which now operates at all 10 UC campuses — in April 2010. The group addresses the problems plaguing Haiti, including its post-earthquake wreckage and strained political structure.
Pascal is involved both locally and globally in providing humanitarian aid to Haiti.
“I had the honor of working with an amazing group of undergrads, grads, faculty and admin at UCSB,” Pascal said. “Within three weeks we raised a lot of awareness and resources, which were directed towards Haitian relief efforts. I continue to remain actively involved with both the UCHI and the Human Rights Council.”
Pascal has recently been invited by a human rights attorney who serves on the UCHI advisory board to participate in an international monitoring group that oversees Haiti’s electoral process.
“As a member of this group I monitored the elections and was in Haiti for most of November, as there was also much for me to do down there as the deputy director of UCHI,” he said.
According to UCSB UCHI Chapter President Emily Utschig, last April’s UC Haiti Summit initiated a University-wide movement to aid the developing nation.
“This summit was organized in a response to a desire from faculty, students and staff at all 10 of the UCs to support the rebuilding of Haiti,” Utschig said in an e-mail. “The UCSB chapter was established during the summer of 2010 and put on the successful event ‘Health in Haiti’ in November as part of A.S. Human Rights Board’s Human Rights Week.”
Graduate student Tom Oliver also played an active role in the initiative by co-founding Intelligent Mobility International, a nonprofit that manufactures and distributes wheelchairs in Haiti.
“I am continuing to work out the logistics of getting wheelchairs into Haiti in a way that engages local Haitian groups, the government and other nonprofits and am looking for volunteers from UCSB to help out,” Oliver said. “Different backgrounds are all welcome and work would include contacting local organizations, promotion and possibly travel.”
UCHI is undertaking numerous projects this year, including a symposium with the State University of Haiti presidents, who will visit UCSB next month. The university, located in Port-au-Prince, recently partnered with UCHI.
The group holds weekly meetings Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Building 387, Room 101.