.

I'm Nittai Malchin, a senior at Palo Alto High School in CA and the founder of One Love Advocates. Our mission is to do whatever possible to improve access to education in communities that are struggling with destructive or endemic problems. My immediate focus is helping kids in Haiti gain access to educational opportunities. I recently traveled to Haiti, and I will be documenting my trip on this site. There are 4 sections (see navigation above) to my mini site: (1) my blog where i document my activities, impressions and thoughts from Haiti (2) About One Love where you can read more about the initiative (3) Support One Love where you can learn how to get involved, donate or help (4) contact info. And on the right sidebar you will find more info such as links to other sites, feeds, photos, videos, and ways to contact me or share One Love with others. Also, check out the cool toolbar on the bottom of your screen to see our videos, photos, and Facebook page, for translations, and more. Thank you for visiting and feel free to share your thoughts.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Helping Build a Stronger Haitian Future - Launching a Computer Pilot



Among the most exciting moments during our trip in Haiti came during our planned visit to a tent-school in which we showed a class how to use a computer for the first time. Using a portion of the money that we raised, we purchased one HP laptop along with one HP printer. We installed a "photo booth" type of program on the computer along with "Paint" and other such interactive and fun applications. Next, we were able to find a technician named Carl (who speaks Creole) who we hired and was willing to help us out and launch a program through which we would teach children how to use computers.

The pilot program has now Carl cycling through the 14 different Prodev schools, going to each school every couple weeks, and ultimately teaching them how to use the computer and printer. Although this may seem trivial to you and me, Haitian children have, for the most part, never used a computer in their entire lives. Every time we meet with a school, we will incorporate something new into the lesson plan and, thus, broaden their scope of knowledge. We are now in constant contact with Carl so that we are able to coordinate new additions to the program, and hear how it is going so that we are able to make improvements whenever they are necessary. In the near future we are also planning to add internet access to these lessons and eventually connect schools in Haiti to schools here in the US.

Above is a video of the pilot class of this program. Most of the students, if not all of them, had never seen a computer in their lives, let along had the chance to play with one and print out a photograph of themselves. It was exciting to see the awe and joy on the faces of the students. Many could not believe what they say and some even considered it to be magic at first. However, after a couple hours of explaining and experimenting, all of the students were able to successfully take pictures of themselves using the webcam, and print out a souvenir of this special day.

As Fitu said (in the "Day 2 in Haiti" post), one of the major problems in the Haitian infrastructure is that the country is incredibly underdeveloped. Even the teachers at the school were eager to learn about what seemed like a mystical object to them (the computer), as they had never witnessed one either. Programs such as this one provide us with the opportunity to help the Haitian people leapfrog their current situation and dive into a brighter and more prosperous future. With an educated youth, Haiti should be able to expect improvements in their government, economy, education, and more as the emerging leaders are simply more knowledgeable and resourceful. It is our hope that, little by little, we are able to truly make a difference, and it is completely feasible that things like this can do just that.

P.S. Thanks to Avrami - who helped via phone with software and hardware decisions :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kids in CA talk to kids in Haiti - through drawings



Before our trip to Haiti, we spoke with teachers at my siblings' elementary school, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, about doing some sort of work for the children in Haiti, and we came up with a simple idea: my sister and brothers' classes would all draw pictures and write letters for the Haitian children. By the end of this experiment, we had three classes-worth (my youngest brother is in 1st Grade and my other brother and sister are in 5th Grade) of colorful and thoughtful letters.

Once in Haiti, we took these drawings with us to several schools that we visited, and handed them out to the students. The children in Haiti will, in turn, create drawings and letters for us to give back to the kids at my siblings' school. We were able to create a connection between three sets of classes, in exactly the place where connections and support is needed.

We selected a couple of the drawings/letters to show you here on the left. The second image has writing in Creole on it, basically saying that the child on the right (the one who made the drawing) is thinking of the child on the left (the imaginary Haitian child).

As you can see (the remainder of the letters can be found in the photo sidebar on the right), the drawings turned out to be fantastic. They were supportive, happy, colorful, and most importantly, they conveyed a message of hope. This was incredible to see as even children as young as seven years old truly put forth an effort to help out those who are less fortunate than themselves. It goes to show that anybody can help, with even the most minimal effort. The Haitian people have so little and are, thus, grateful and appreciative of all the help that they get: whether it be relief efforts, supply of food and water, or simply a letter or a drawing. During tough times like these, it is the spirit of the people that is hurt the most, and small actions such as these go a long ways in repairing the morale of a devastated people.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Even a Dollar is Not a Dollar

During our time in Haiti, we came to realize that there are numerous quirky idiosyncrasies in everyday life. One such example is the monetary system in Haiti. The current official currency is the Gourde (pronounced goooood), but along the years, it has been revalued by the Haitian government and people several times.

In 1912 the US Dollar was set equal to 5 Gourdes. This relationship, however, was abandoned some 20 years ago, but the relationship lives on among the people. Five Gourdes = 1 Haitian Dollar (which the locals refer to as simply a “dollar”), and 1 US Dollar = 40 Gourdes. In most places prices are given in Haitian Dollars as opposed to Gourdes, and so the prices must be multiplied by five in order to convert to the real currency: Gourdes.

As you can imagine, for those who are not used to this system, such as myself, this caused a great deal of confusion. At a market, three tomatoes cost 16 Dollars (obviously far too expensive), and we were shocked. Once we got the register, however, we realized that this was 16 Haitian Dollars, which is 80 Gourdes, which is, in turn, 2 US Dollars. Confusing, right?

Although this is only a simple matter, it is one of countless aspects of life in Haiti. Nothing is simple in Haiti. Whether it’s finding housing, finding work, getting an education, calculating the currency, or anything else. Far before the dreadful earthquake, Haitians were living complicated and harsh lives, and now their struggles have only been increased. Be it a US Dollar, Gourde, or Haitian Dollar, Haitian people are all craving for one more – especially in a country where many live on $1 a day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

With the Help of a Soccer Ball and a T-Shirt - Moving on Towards a Brighter Future


We visited the tent-schools in the tent-city of Caradeux and helped the students (ages 8-12) move their school from 2 tents to a somewhat more legitimate place for a school - a semi-permanent structure with walls and windows. This move brought me great joy as I was able to witness the enthusiasm with which the children approached their schooling. Unlike students in many other parts of the world, the children of Haiti truly appreciate the opportunities that they are presented with. The students happily moved many chairs and tables from school to school in a shockingly short amount of time due to their excitement and anticipation to adequate facilities. Once in their new classrooms, the children sang songs with huge smiles on their faces. The teachers, who were equally enthusiastic, led the children in song and later rehearsed the alphabet and other such things.

In addition to the move, we brought with us a couple soccer balls, a pump, and four sets of t-shirts for the formation of soccer teams. The children became elated - far beyond what I expected - when they were informed that they would have the opportunity to one simple game of soccer, let alone a continual soccer program. This excitement was especially evident when we were actually playing the game. During the game, the "green team"scored the first goal, and instead of the "yellow team" becoming frustrated, they began cheering as well. All of the children who were not playing ran onto the field, as though the "green team" had just won a national football championship, hugged and high-fived all of the other children.

The students, regardless of what team they were on, or even whether or not they were playing, displayed pure joy throughout the game. Something as simple and easy to get as a ball or a t-shirt can have such a profound impact on the lives of those who have so little. It only makes sense for us to make a small effort, as it affects the children (and their parents in the tents nearby) so positively. One of children told me that the events of the day were the highlight of his week, and probably even longer than that.

While it may seem as though the children were all happy and thus messed around during the game, that was not at all the case. All of the children took the game very seriously, showcasing their enthusiasm and soccer skills. The man in charge of the school, who served as an interim referee during the game, followed the rules of the game to the letter of the law. Whenever the ball went out of bounds, he made sure that the children threw the ball in with the correct form, or when I eventually came into the game, he took someone off of the field so that the teams would be even (I felt pretty bad about that at first, but children were rotated in and out of the game, so it wasn't too bad).

At the end of the game, when we had to leave the camp, the referee insisted and asked that we wait an additional five minutes so that we would be able to take a photograph with the kids. He, along with all of the children, expressed huge amounts of gratitude and pride. I received countless hugs, handshakes, high-fives, and "thank you's" before we left. One younger kid, Kevin (more on him later) followed me to the car, his eyes and expression asking to take him with us.

Although this scene that has been described may seem pleasant and nice, it's important to remember the environment there. We were playing on concrete, not grass, among hundreds of tents in which people live. The few minutes that we played soccer allowed the children to forget about their woes, even if it was just temporary. The fact that the kids were even able to enjoy themselves illustrates the resilience of the Haitian people - despite living under repulsive conditions and having to deal with issues such as not having enough food to eat, they smiled and laughed and truly had a good time. It got me to think about how trivial many of our issues often are relative the problems that they experience. While we argue about who gets to play Xbox and for how long, they take what they can get and make the best out of their situation. I find that this has helped me put things in my life into perspective, and I feel as though it will allow me to become a more giving and selfless person.

Be sure to keep on checking the blog for more pictures and videos!

One Love.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Healthy Curiosity in a Not So Healthy Country



Hey everybody, sorry about the delay – I had a minor issue with uploading some of the photographs onto the website. Anyway, I’m here with an update for you with one of our visits to a tent-school inside one of the tent cities.

During our visit to all of the places we went, not only schools, the local people spent a fair amount of time simply staring at us. This was not a sign of rudeness or intimidation, but rather curiosity. My braces for example were a big wonder. Kids constantly stared at my mouth, sometimes pointing and asking, at other times smiling shyly. Many Haitians, before the earthquake, rarely encountered white people – and if they did see them, they had minimal to no interaction with that person. So whenever we walked around, we became a common attraction to observe.

This was even more evident during our working trips to schools in tent cities, during which we had direct interaction with the students. On one of our visits to a school, after we talked with the kids (11 year olds) for several minutes and became comfortable with them, they began to get a feel for us – literally. My Dad has long, blonde, and fairly straight hair – something that is virtually nonexistent in their culture. The kids, especially one girl by the name of Shidna, were fascinated with this trait of his, and began stroking his hair. More and more kids joined in, and eventually, something like ten kids were all playing with my Dad’s hair. At the same time, the other kids who couldn’t reach, such as Solomon, Wishiski, Christina, and more (more to come on those kids in the next few days), began feeling either my arms or my Dad’s arms in order to feel our differently-colored skin.

Although a bit weird at first, it was fun to allow the kids to quench their curiosity by simply being there. Considering how rare it is for the Haitian people, let alone the children, to see people different than themselves, it is only expected for them to be so eager to experience the differences for themselves. This trait, although it may seem trivial in this situation, is a tremendously important trait to have, as curiosity is the fuel of education. Without a passion and a want to learn more, it will be impossible for Haiti to slowly dig itself out of its current situation and into a brighter future. It is my hope that this aspect of the Haitian people will successfully utilize their curiosity in their education.

More to come (new videos!) in the next post!

One Love.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Permanent Future



Hey everyone, sorry about the lack of consistent posts in the last couple days - things have been pretty crazy around here..

Above is a video of Daniko (Daniel Kedar), who runs Prodev, speaking about the upcoming schooling project. Up until now, children have only been attending makeshift schools that are simply large tents. These schools are often located within the tent-cities (areas such as parks that have become mini-cities composed of tents after the earthquake), which are obviously extremely unpleasant, distracting, and inappropriate locations for schools. The schools usually contain somewhere between 2-4 classes at a time. Since the schools are tents, there are no walls or other sound barriers, leading to a great deal of outside noise which proves to be rather distracting to the students.

In Orangaix, the area in which the new school will be built, however, the environment is quite the opposite. This city is only 5 miles away from Cite Soleil (which will be featured in one of the upcoming posts), the largest slum in the Western Hemisphere. Fairly unharmed by the earthquake, Orangaix presents a large space that has a calm, peaceful, and welcoming climate. What was once intended to be a set of basketball courts, now only large regions of concrete that have been abandoned, will be transformed into a legitimate set of classes. The quiet and "school-like" environment will allow the students at this school to truly enjoy the benefits or receiving a good education - something that is very rare in Haiti.

At this site, there will be about 9 classrooms built, which will serve several hundred students. Although Orangaix is not densely populated, there shouldn't be an attendance issue because education is such a need in the lives of the Haitian people. This project will be innovative in another aspect as well - its teaching system. In most schools in Haiti, the curriculum essentially revolves around memorization and regurgitation of ideas and concepts. For example, student know the flow of the blood in the body by heart and can recite it flawlessly, but if you were to stop them in the middle of their recitation, they basically have no idea what they were talking about. The new school at Orangaix, however, plans to incorporate an interactive system of learning so that the students truly understand the concepts that they are being taught so that they will be able to make use of them later on in their lives. For example, the new school will feature an indoor garden where the students will have the opportunity to learn about agriculture - a profession that will surely be useful in the future.

It's vital that projects such as this one at Orangaix are successful, as they provide children with a long-term opportunity to create a better future for themselves. Now that the chaos is beginning to settle down after the earthquake, permanent structures such as these can ultimately leapfrog the current flawed educational situation and lead to a future functional educational infrastructure.

Next time I go to Haiti (during the summer), I will visit the school at Orangaix to see the progress that has been made. The school is on schedule to be up and running by that time, as construction will end in a few months. I will be able to help teach the students there about computers, through the program we have developed (see the next posts in the coming days), or simply play soccer with them and provide them with the proper equipment. All that is ultimately needed to help the Haitian children achieve a brighter future is a legitimate facility, which will soon be in existence, and a little bit of support and attention. I hope to, along with Prodev, help bring these things to the deserving children of Haiti.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

PIH Orphanage Video



Here is a video we made of our experience at the PIH orphanage that we visited the other day (from the post: Day 3 in Haiti - Delayed).

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 3 in Haiti - Delayed


Sorry for the delay with this post, it was tough to find enough time with the shaky internet and all that, but I have some down time now so I can get at you guys.

Yesterday we visited an medical care center (where the kids also live) located in Santo, for orphans and children with physical or mental issues. The center was built by PIH (Partners in Health). We came there with Sharon (from Prodev) and several doctors that were also volunteering with Prodev. Prodev is opening a preschool at the orphanage next week, and our task was to evaluate all of the children and train the caretakers in preparation for the preschool. As the doctors evaluated each child, they took notes and numbered each child so that they would be able to remember them. We, then, photographed each child with his or her respective number next to them for the records, and so that it will be easy to identify the children next time Prodev goes there (you can see the children on Flickr widget on the right sidebar).

The purpose of the evaluation was to check which kids (there were 50 kids at the center) will be able to go to school, and for those who cannot, find out what their problem is so that they can receive help. It was tough to see the children at first, as they were not receiving adequate care from the workers. Almost all of them were simply laying on their backs in their beds without moving at all. This is obviously detrimental to the health (physical and mental) of the children, as they do not interact with the world (leading to mental problems) and they do not exercise their muscles (leading to joint and muscular issues). One of the girls, 2.5 years old, was unable to lift her head because she had not developed any neck muscles. Another boy, 1 year old, was half-blind because all he would ever do was stare at the white ceiling above him.

These children, who are often born without any problems, are developing major health issues because of a lack of simple care. This was obviously difficult to observe and accept, and created a sullen and gloomy mood. However, after a short while, Sharon came took the children out of their beds and let them be free on the ground together. We brought several bouncy balls for them to play with and gave them to the kids. Within 5 minutes, the room was bustling with kids crawling (some with their own creative methods ~ check the videos above), walking, throwing the balls, and yelling with joy. Although these kids are far away and live under extreme circumstances, they are, naturally, just like anyone else. All they need is some support and attention, and they become ecstatic.

Steph, one of the boys, is in the "crawling-era" of his life. However, he has opted not to learn how to crawl - he instead has developed his own special method of transportation. He sits on the ground in a sort of half-pretzel stance, and then scoots his feet towards his hips and uses the traction of his shoes to move forward (in one of my next posts there will be a compilation of the kids at the orphanage). Another boy, Davidson, refused to sit on the ground by himself. Instead, he clung to anybody who would hold him. After holding him for some ten minutes, I began bending down in order to put him down so that I would be able to be with the other children, but he wouldn't allow it (more on Davidson too in future posts.) As soon as I bent down, even the slightest bit, he would look at me, put his hands around my neck, squeeze, and start crying. As soon as I got back up, he stopped crying and returned to eating his biscuit.

These kids are incredibly cute and fun to be with, and after the slightest bit of attention and effort (sitting on the ground with them and giving them a few bouncy balls), they light up and create a great atmosphere. It is reassuring to see that it is so easy to brighten the lives of these children with so little work. Once the day-care is built, the kids will have an opportunity to lead much happier lives than they do now.

Above are a couple videos from the PIH orphanage along with some photographs. Be sure to check the right sidebar for many more great photographs of the children and of the rest of our journey throughout the day.









One Love.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 3 in Haiti - preview

Hey everyone we have lots to share with you. Today we visited an
orphanage, a camp site for a prospective permanent school, and several
existing temporary schools within the tent cities.

Unfortunately, there isn't any reliable Internet and we are exhausted.
We will update you at the earliest opportunity tomorrow with several
videos and lots of photographs. Sorry about the delay, stay posted for
more news tomorrow!

One love.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 2 in Haiti



So now I'm outside our house/apartment that we moved into today (and we'll be staying here for the remainder of the trip) because there isn't any internet indoors. It's raining now but I'm keeping dry and the rain has weakened somewhat from what it was earlier tonight (there was thunder and lightning as well).

Today we woke up around 7:30 AM at John Engle's house, had breakfast, and went on a hike up the hill that John lives on. About a mile up the road, 4,000 feet above sea level (John's house is 2,000 feet above), we stopped at the site for a future learning center. John and Haiti Partners have planned to build a learning center, which will essentially serve as a hub for the entire community, where students will learn and play, and where the remainder of the community will be able to meet and spend their time.

Once we reached the site, a group of local Haitians began to form and watch us eagerly. After a few minutes during which John explained the project to us, over 25 local community members had joined us. Now, these people essentially came out of nowhere, and into the middle of nowhere. There were no buildings, no towns or anything of the sort nearby. However, the people were interested enough in the prospect of building a center which will progress their community and allow them to enjoy further development, that they came out to spend their time with us.

Above is a video of John Engle, myself, and a local member of the community named Fitu, speaking about the exciting opportunity that awaits. We recorded several more people speaking of what they believe the most glaring issues and needs of the community are, and we will upload the videos later (the internet here is a bit shaky and we were unable to upload all of the videos right away). People were eager to speak their mind and have their opinions shared, and their advice is appreciated and valued, as they are the people who truly know what is most needed.

Following that, we bid farewell to John's family, and went to Daniko and Mryse's (the directors of Prodev) house for dinner along with Sharon Ramon (who works with Prodev with building curriculum, recruiting teachers, and more). All three of them are inspiring and will surely be enlightening to work with as they are all glowing with a passion to help the impoverished people of Haiti. They reiterated to us that it is important to understand that although the recent earthquake was devastating and made the situation here worse, there was constant struggle and poverty beforehand. The earthquake has essentially illustrated pre-existing problems to the international community, and has sparked an interest in helping that has been needed for a long time.

During dinner, we also began speaking about the details of our project in partnership (OneLove & Prodev). We brainstormed several preliminary ideas, but are not completely sure what we are going to do yet. Tomorrow we will surely have a better sense of our plan after our endeavors. Speaking of which, tomorrow will be an interesting and busy day; we will be visiting an orphanage, spending time in schools, which are in the tent-cities, and getting an overall feel for the Haitian schooling system.

That's all for now, I'm off to bed. Today was busy and tiring, but it was an awesome experience nonetheless. Be sure to check out our twitter page (twitter.com/OneLoveAdvocate) as we'll be updating it throughout the day, and also report back to the blog for more videos, pictures, and posts. Thanks for following us on our trip thus far!

One Love.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 1 in Haiti


So we finally got to Haiti after two tiring flights at around 12:30 PM. There was this band of 5 or 6 guys playing joyful music right as we got off of the plane as a welcome to Haiti. As we left the airport, things were a bit crazy. Outside the exit there were gates surrounded by 100-200 Haitians all in search for money with the hopes of helping foreigners (such as ourselves) with their bags. Our friend, John Engle who founded Haiti Partners (haiti-partners.org), set up a ride for us waiting outside the airport.

Two Haitian men helped us get through the hectic scene and onto a hotel, where we met John for the first time. While we were waiting for John we got to know the two drivers. We asked them about the earthquake and how they have been coping with the aftermath. The two were incredibly resilient, smiling all the time, even when talking about their broken houses and all of the other destruction. It was inspiring to see people in the street all waving to us with smiles on their faces. They've endured so much devastation, yet remain strong and fight through it.

We met John at the hotel and then made our way back to his house in the hills of Port-au-Prince. He, along with his wife Meryline, were gracious and generous hosts. Their two children, Daniel (his picture is on the top left)and Laila, were funny and a lot of fun to play with. While we were getting ready to eat when it began raining extremely hard immediately, reminiscent of a tropical storm straight out of a movie scene. We set up tarps outside and enjoyed our dinner and the cool air (after the heat and humidity of the day) nonetheless.

Now I'm in bed and I have to figure out this "bath" thing ~ there is no running water, so the showers consist of sitting in the bath tub with some buckets of water and pouring it over your head. It will surely be an interesting experience. After that, I'm off to sleep.

We uploaded pictures from the day onto the photo widget on the right sidebar. Stay posted for more pictures and videos to come. Make sure to check out our twitter page (twitter.com/OneLoveAdvocate) for more updates!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Upgrades


So we're leaving tonight! The time has finally come after all these weeks of preparation. We're almost done packing (you can see all of the stuff we're bringing on the left) and then off to the airport.

We recently made some upgrades to the blog that you can check out and enjoy. We created a twitter account (twitter.com/OneLoveAdvocate) that will probably be updated more often than this blog with short bits of news about the trip. Next, we added a slideshow of videos and photographs on the right sidebar, where you will be able to see all of the latest video updates we make from our youtube channel, and the photographs that we take.

Finally, we have incorporated all of these things, along with a chatting service and a few other cool applications, into the toolbar at the bottom of your screen. Here, you can check our twitter posts, our videos, and more very conveniently.

That's all for now, I'm almost running late for the flight! I'll be sure to keep you guys updated once we reach Haiti. So exciting!

One Love.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ExactScience & OneLove Collabo

Big shoutout and thanks to Brad from Exact Science! He sent us a box full of awesome t-shirts as a donation to our cause. We're selling the shirts as part of our fundraising efforts. All of the profits will, of course, go directly to Haitian rebuilding and relief efforts. The money will be combined with the funds raised from the letters we've sent out and received such generous gifts from. It will all be donated to Prodev in order to reach a large scope of people and do so effectively.

I took this photo of the shirts in the shape of a heart, as I thought it is only fitting considering where the proceeds from the selling of the shirts will be going.

Let me know if you're interested in helping our cause, and getting a cool t-shirt in the process! Supplies are limited and the shirts are selling fast, so leave a comment if you're interested.

One Love.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Good Insights

Hello,

In the last few days I've found myself busy (in addition to school - lots of tests before spring break unfortunately =)) collecting funds so that I can get to Haiti with a nice amount of money and make a difference. Things are going better than expected and I am amazed to learn how generous people are. I'll have more to say about that later as we use the funds in Haiti for good causes.

Some of the insights and tips that I have gotten from people that I approached these last few days in the context of One Love has been inspiring and meaningful. As you can imagine, Haiti is all new to me, and there is a lot that I still have to learn. Those two people stood out in particular with their insights:

Neerja Raman, a Senior Research Fellow at Stanford, sent me the message to be open to anything while in Haiti, and use the time to listen, observe and find my real passion. She suggested that I maybe then narrow down my involvement to tangible projects in the months and years to come. Neerja also suggested that I will not only benefit from seeing how others' lives can be different form mine, but also learn from them... It's a 2-way street: you give and you get...

Cynthia Hatfield used to work with my Dad, but has since then spent years in humanitarian assistance in various parts of the world most of us never go to (Afghanistan, the West Bank...). Cynthia was exceptionally insightful: She suggested that I may, at times, feel as if the suffering around me is too great and progress is too slow. Her message to me, however, was to remember that my greatest gift to the Haitians will be to show that someone cares for them - that even the most humble actions such as shaking the hands of someone who has lost their dignity, playing soccer with street children (which I am planning to do - I have a few soccer balls ready to be packed to bring along with me on my trip), making conversation and giving smiles readily are what truly make the greatest difference.

It's reassuring to know that others have experienced what I am about to experience, and their advice is helping and calming.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Three More Days to Go

We're just three days away from my trip to Haiti! I'm starting to pack some stuff now as the trip nears, mostly shorts and t-shirts because it's supposed to be almost 100 degrees when I'm there! But with tropical storms raining down at the same time, which will surely be a bit strange as I've never experienced such weather. Also, my teacher for my Advanced Photography class has also allowed me to borrow a nice camera so that I will be able to document my experiences with all of you throughout the trip. The camera that I'm currently using for class, unfortunately, is several years old and definitely wouldn't produce high quality images for me to share...

Things are really starting to come along regarding my fundraising efforts for Haiti. I have sent out fund-raising e-mails and messages to my friends and family, all of whom have been tremendously generous and supportive. I'd like to thank everybody who has made a contribution, large or small, whether it is a monetary donation or simply following the blog. Without your help, my work in Haiti would not be nearly as effective and meaningful as it is now. We've been able to raise a great deal of money thus far, and hope to continue to do so. It's great to see that even during tough economic times like these, people are ready and willing to help those who are less fortunate. Most people work and simply do not have the time to research organizations and such, so it is my pleasure to provide them with an opportunity to help rebuild Haiti.

In addition to the fundraising, thanks to the guys at Jungle who hooked us up, I've made some 500 OneLove stickers to pass out and spread the word. My brothers and sister have been handing them out at their school for now, and I plan on starting to do the same. Any creative ideas for what else I could do with them? Leave a comment and let me know if you have any... Finally, Exact Science (http://www.exact-science.com/), an awesome clothing company, has agreed to send OneLove some clothes as a donation as a tool for raising money and spreading the word about our cause.

That's all for now everybody.. Stay tuned for any more news as the trip gets closer and closer!

One Love

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Making connections

I am so busy with school, my upcoming trip to Haiti is something I look forward to. over the weekend i plan to organize my thoughts, plan the days etc. (more on that in the next 1-2 days)

Yesterday, at the U.N. International donor conference for Haiti, U.S. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton said: “Aid is important, but aid has never saved a country”. Her words underscore the complexity of assisting Haiti in its reconstruction effort: while the unprecedented funding pledges signal an international willingness to support the ravaged country, there is reason to be skeptical about whether a coordinated, efficient strategy for nation (re) building will emerge.

The success of the conference, however, should not be diminished. The government of Haiti had originally intended to raise about $4 billion in pledges, including $1.3 billion for humanitarian relief over the next 18 months. At the outset of the conference, the international community had pledged nearly $10 billion dollars to support Haiti reconstruction efforts over the next three years, with $5.3 billion designated for 2010 and 2011. Even Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, pledged to donate $200,000.

All of that makes me both happy and reassures me that I am doing the right thing: investing in Haiti’s best resource – the children, education, enabling Haitians to help themselves.

Starting to take yellow fever pills in 2 days:)