Local Foundation Pushes to Provide Water Relief in Haiti
By Andrew J. Mitchell, Jr.
While world figures are attempting to get millions of dollars in relief funding to assist residents of Haiti in their fight against the residual effects of an earthquake five years ago, a local organization is doing what it can to assist the impoverished Caribbean country.
Last weekend, Recycle4Haiti Foundation Inc. held a 5K run at Railroad Square Park to raise money for Haiti. The fundraising project focused on helping provide clean water and solar energy in Haitian primary schools.
The race attracted a field of 20, ranging from youths to elderly. The event lasted just under 50 minutes, with two finishers completing the course in a time under 20 minutes.
Haitians have been struggling with an outbreak of cholera since a major earthquake hit the country five years ago. Money raised from the Tallahassee effort will also go toward helping Haitians combat the disease, said Carolyn Pompilus, a Florida A&M University student who is of Haitian descent.
“We want to go back to Haiti and drill a well and give them education about water quality and to prevent cholera from spreading,” Pompilus said.
Organizers of the weekend race hope to raise $30,000 for Haiti.
A larger effort is underway that could eventually lead to help for Haiti. Just this last week, Haitian-American organizations and political figures sent a letter calling for the United Nations to help fund the fight against cholera.
Cholera, an infectious disease, has claimed the lives of more than 8,000 Haitians and another 700,000 were stricken in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. The main symptoms of the disease are diarrhea and dehydration.
The World Bank estimates that 54 percent of Haiti’s population lives on less than a U.S. dollar. The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice also estimates that nearly 70 percent of the population has no direct access to potable water.
Pompilus was in Florida when the earthquake struck. She said she remembers the impact the earthquake, which registered 7.0 on the Richter scale, had on her father. He was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake.
“He lost his home and was out of a job for months,” Pompilus said. “It impacted him financially and psychologically as well. It was like the worst thing that could ever happen to a third-world country.”
Apart from events like last weekend’s race, Pompilus is at the forefront of a recycling drive by the Recycle4Haiti Foundation. She said she had a vision and started to collect recyclables such as electronics and aluminum.
Her effort seemingly is gaining momentum, especially in the area of helping to improve water quality in Haiti.