As we approach the one year anniversary of the Rubicon Education Foundation’s visit to Haiti and the subsequent emergence of the Sister School Partnership Program, we caught up with the team that travelled to Haiti and asked them to share their reflections on this experience one year later. Kathrine, Rubicon’s Director of Recruiting, was first to report.
Why did you decide to visit Haiti with Rubicon’s team? What appealed to you in Sister School Program?
I had never participated in any large scale relief effort. I was ten blocks from the World Trade Center when the attack occurred. Without medical, police or firefighter training I was unqualified to serve or be useful to anyone. I was frustrated and I wanted to help. I felt like going to Haiti would give me the opportunity to lend a hand. Since I was responsible for setting up much of the logistical planning for our Haiti visit, I had a chance to speak to numerous people who had gone immediately following the earthquake. Their accounts and news reports echoed a concern for safety in Haiti. I know I can be very level headed in life threatening situations, and I felt one of my responsibilities for this trip would be to get the Rubicon team members back safely to their loved ones. As it turned out it was an unnecessary worry. We were always very safe.
What were the some of the challenges during your visit in Haiti?
The heat and humidity. The fumes in the air. The language barriers and having to rely heavily on those of us who spoke French. The long commuting hours in the car to get anywhere …. and being electrocuted by our electronics.
What single image do you have in mind now, a year later, when you think of your trip to Haiti?
When we visited students of the Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP), an organization that provides merit-based university scholarships for Haiti’s top high school graduates from severely disadvantaged backgrounds, many of the students said they didn’t want to spend their time talking to us and have us leave and never hear back; as it happened with so many others.
Do you feel like you personally were able to help in any way a crisis of such magnitude?
This situation runs much deeper than needing supplies, housing or medical attention. If the government were able to play a greater role in organizing and sustaining the relief effort, things could be different. We are doing what we can, with the resources we have. Hopefully the children we are supporting will grow up and make a more significant impact from within.
Stay tuned as we connect with the other members of Rubicon’s travelling team and get their reflections on Haiti, one year after.