Local Student Helping Haitians
A William and Mary student continues to be involved in helping the people of Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake that struck the island in January.
Danny Yates was in Hinche, about 50 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince when it happened.
Yates: When I was there I also saw the devastation of Port-au-Prince but the plight of the refugees coming in and sort of how that one quake and epicenter of the capital city of three million had that instant domino effect on the rest of the country even regions that weren’t hit.
He and the others, from St. Bridget’s Church in Richmond, have stayed in touch with the priest and the church they were working with and even set up a website to help raise awareness and much needed relief aide.
Yates: Specifically, I’m working on a project to help displaced Haitian University students to continue their education in the U.S. I searched for months and months to try to find a school for one or two students, whose universities were destroyed. Looking for a Virginia school, public or private, and I was unsuccessful, but what I did find was a small historically black college in North Carolina called Barber-Scotia College.
The school was opened in 1867.
Yates: It was a teacher’s college right after the Civil War. Now, they’ve fallen on rough times over the years, but they have had amazing history. Even today, although they are struggling with some financial difficulties, they are providing a home for not just one or two, but six Haitian students. They told me they wanted a minimum of six if I could find them.
He said the support he’s gotten has been overwhelming.
Yates: The college has given two-thirds scholarships to every student, which means the only amount that needs to be raised is the room and board, expenses of about five thousand dollars per student per year, $2500 per semester. So when I did the math, I looked at it and compared it to my William and Mary bill, and it really only comes down to only ninety-eight dollars and fifteen cents is the price to send one student, to educate, clothe, house, and give them a college education for one week. So that’s sort of our goal.
Yates said that while material needs are great in Haiti, his experience there has taught him the importance of education to the future of the country’s recovery. The effort has a name.
Yates: Hinche Scholars Rebuilding Haiti through Education. We’re realistic, what can these six students really accomplish? I looked at their college application and their essays that came in the other day. Some of the students want to be doctors, another one wants to be a Civil Engineer, another one wants to be a Haitian lawyer who works with the UN on civil rights. One wants to teach English at a university that they’re hopefully building in another region of the country as part of the decentralization efforts.
Two things, he emphasized, are abundantly clear.
Yates: The resiliency of these students, as well as the generosity of folks here in this country, to try to give them a leg up.
A member of the Richmond City Council noted.
Yates: They’re working on the intellectual infrastructure.
His goal now is to get the Richmond community involved.
Yates: We’re looking for advocacy, of course donations, endorsements from politicians, the whole teach a man to fish mentality and sustainability. For just thirty thousand dollars what we’re going to be able to educate, perhaps six of Haiti’s future leaders. And there’s an agreement here that these students will return to Haiti after they receive their education.
Yates will be returning to Haiti in August.
Yates: Everything is on my web site, hincherelief.wordpress.com. We have a Facebook page, Hinche Relief, and we also are working with the I Have a Dream Foundation of Richmond which is remarkable because this group just opened their arms to us and now they’re letting us their 501(c)(3) to run all the expenses of this project through them.
John Ogle, WCVE News