Haiti Trip Success Despite Perceived Lack of College Support

Eva Sachs, Staff Writer

All Hands Volunteers, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to survivors of natural disasters around the world, sent seven Oberlin students to Haiti for two weeks over Winter Term. As of Feb. 18, the organization has been working in the area for a year.

Much of the work involved volunteering at orphanages and clearing rubble from home sites. College sophomore Annabel Moorman, who worked at a rubble site for the entirety of the two weeks, said, “I saw the site start to finish. It was really rewarding to see how happy the family was after that.”

College senior Joe Brophy, the driving force in organizing the trip, heard of AHV through a fellow Immerse Yourself in Service leader. Several of the student participants expressed frustration with what they perceived to be the College’s lack of support for the organization. Brophy said he believed that the administration’s decision to withhold support is complicated by the safety conditions in Haiti. According to Brophy, Haiti is considered too dangerous.“[The administration] had liability issues they had to take care of.”

Despite the perceived lack of support from the College, the volunteers said the experience proved rewarding for those in attendance. Moorman said, “They did a good job of empowering me. … I had a great time, but I felt like I was doing a lot of good.”

Lederman said the Haitian families and local volunteers who worked alongside those from AHV made significant impressions on many of the students. “I was having a conversation with one of the local volunteers. He said, ‘Did you know that Haiti is paradise? Palm trees, blue sky, great people.’”

Moorman added, “[Seeing] people with so much less [who] seemed to be a lot happier than I was made me evaluate what I had.”