Club spreads awareness, gives back to Haiti

BreAnna Celestin, Contributing Writer

The Haiti Connections Club, founded in 1989, has taken Eastern students to Haiti to help people twice every year.

The organization, supported by the Newman Catholic Center, has 10 to 12 students in it as of now.

The purpose of the club is to help spread awareness and give back to the community.

The yearly trips to Haiti the club takes are in May and December, said Hope Christensen, a senior majoring in Elementary Education who has been involved in the club since her freshman year.

“You actually get a $600 scholarship to go to Haiti if you’re in the club,” she said. “(Roy Lanham) is really passionate about bringing as many people to Haiti and spreading the awareness as much as he can, so he tries to work out a really good deal for the people who want to go,” Christensen said.

Lanham, leader of the club and campus minister of the Newman Catholic Center, said members travel to two different communities in Haiti called Barasa and Paru.

These are nine-day trips that consist of members spending four days in a rural area and five days in a city where they will soon thereafter begin projects, Christensen said.

Club members have a variety of different projects they participate in, such as women’s literacy, trees for education and a clean water project.

One of the projects has club members building houses for and aiding two Haitian families every year, Lanham said.

“We have a rep down in Haiti that works with the women, and she helps the women with side jobs. She gives them chickens and teaches them how to create their own business,” Christensen said.

Lanham has been to Haiti 67 times, he said, and has enjoyed every bit of it.

“My favorite thing about Haiti is the people,” Lanham said. “It’s been a blessing for us to be able to see the resiliency of people in the midst of the world in which there’s a lot of need and want because of poverty.”

Erin Zurek, a sophomore majoring in communication disorders and Spanish, joined the Haiti Connections Club this semester.

“It’s really nice to see a lot of long-term impacts that we are trying to accomplish for a nation that is struggling with poverty,” Zurek said.

Claire Overland, a senior health administration major, has been involved in Haiti Connections since her freshman year. She is currently the treasurer for the club.

She is in charge of the finances and other donations that people give throughout the year.

“The one thing that drew me the most to (the club) was that all of our projects are aimed towards self-efficiency,” Overland said.

People can visit the Newman Catholic Center’s website and click on its tab labeled “The Haiti Connections Club.” To get involved in Haiti Connections, people can attend the weekly meetings or they can email Christensen.

BreAnna Celestin can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].