MANHATTAN, KS -- A group of about 30 Kansas State University students and sponsors from Ichthus, a campus Christian church/ministry, is spending 10 days in Haiti to help build homes and assist in a school in Fond-des-Blancs, a town damaged by the January 2010 earthquake.
The group left today.
Jeanette Schwartz, one of the group leaders, said that a missionary in Fond-des-Blancs started the school and needs to build houses to attract new teachers to the area.
"We will help build homes for teachers near the Le Exode primary school in Fond-des-Blancs, as well as conduct art classes for the children at the school," said Nate Bozarth, sophomore in agronomy, Olathe.
Schwartz said that the school doesn't usually have art classes, so the K-State group is taking as many art supplies as possible to give the children a creative experience.
"We're purchasing as many dry erase boards and markers as we can because they need them," Schwartz said. "Also, we're trying to get as many supplies as possible to help them facilitate solar power -- solar panels, a converter, batteries and such. They have no electricity in the area, but they do have one gasoline generator that they use to run the school's computer lab. They'd really like to get solar power; they have plenty of sunshine in Haiti, so it would be a great use of resources."
For many students seeing the world and gaining a better understanding of it was the impetus to make the trip.
"I've never been out of the country, and I thought it would be a really different experience for me," said Danielle Young, senior in family studies and human services,Ulysses. "I wanted to experience Haiti and serve the people there."
The group will be in Haiti on the one-year anniversary of the quake.
"We will put on a festival for the community on the anniversary," Young said. "We will have carnival games and food. It will give us an opportunity to just be with and enjoy the community members."
Schwartz said that students are enthusiastic about going to help those in need.
"The students are at an age where they're making lifelong decisions," she said. "It's a really critical time to give them perspective on what they want to invest in, how they want to steer the course of their lives and how privileged they really are.