Marquette community members and Northern students are organizing efforts to send or offer help to the victims of the recent tragic earthquake in Haiti.
Physician’s assistant Alice McMahon is a part of a group of Marquette community members and medical professionals who are making a trip down next week by seaplane.
“It’s still being organized. We don’t know how much is needed as far as numbers of people, or how many people can actually be housed down there. We don’t know where we’re going, so it’s all been evolving,” McMahon said.
The earthquake, which the American Red Cross estimates has affected about three million people in Haiti, struck 16 miles west of the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. It destroyed important infrastructure, such as roads, which could have been utilized to get aid to the right places within the nation’s borders.
McMahon said that since the airports are completely overwhelmed with planes sending help, seaplanes are a good way to reach the island nation.
“That’s one of the things we were all excited about, being able to enter the country without having to inundate the Port-Au-Prince airport which is already really struggling with getting aid in for water and food and medical supplies,” said McMahon.
McMahon said that there was a clinic that she helped set up south of Port-au-Prince which was a part of a major compound for medical professionals and their patients. This past Christmas, she learned that the clinic was servicing 4,000 people a year.
“We were all really excited about that. Sadly, we just heard the whole area was flattened. The guest house, the school, the church, everything,” McMahon said.
McMahon said that while the logistics of planning a trip to Haiti to help were difficult, she couldn’t wait to go back and help.
Dave Bonsall, director for the Center for Student Enrichment, said that while sending help to Haiti may be difficult, he thought efforts in Marquette and at Northern Michigan University may still be substantial.
“I suspect that as the situation stabilizes and specific needs are articulated we will see a number of efforts conducted by student organizations and individual members of the NMU faculty, staff, and student body. Northern is a very giving community,” Bonsall said.
Junior marketing major TJ Weber has started planning a trip to Haiti over Spring Break. He said he hopes that many students will join him.
“We have the ability to do a lot of good during our spring break, instead of going out and partying,” Weber said. “I just want to get as many people as possible if I can get something going.”
Weber said he started organizing the trip after hearing about a trip which was being planned at Oakland University.
“I thought it would be a good way for Northern to volunteer. The people down there need a lot of help. We certainly have the ability to help,” Weber said.
Those interested in donating to the cause have several options. McMahon’s church, the Marquette Unitarian Universalist Congregation, is collecting donations for her group’s trip to Haiti. Checks can be written out to the church with “Haiti Quake Relief” on the memo line. The funds will be used to send supplies and local medical personal to Haiti.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations as well as part of a national text message campaign. Text “HAITI” to 90999 and $10 will be charged to your cell phone account and automatically donated to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts.