Bridging the Gap: Peace by Peace
Student activism. During my years at the University of Miami, I became a part of the large community of students who were frustrated that we lived our daily lives through textbooks as our global community continued to struggle. As students we used this frustration, coupled with our idealistic visions, to give us a passionate drive to "make a difference". But how long will this spark last and why should we invest in these young leaders?
According to The Boston Globe (August 2007), student activists are taking a more realistic, corporate-style approach while trying to make changes from within. As a result of being distraught with the amount of pessimism surrounding Haiti, myself along with 9 other fervent college students decided to start a campaign called "Bridging the Gap: Peace by Peace - A Campaign to Support Nutrition in Haiti" under our local chapter of Rotaract (a university-based Rotary Club program). Our focus was to raise awareness about the dire nutrition status in Haiti (a 90-minute flight from Miami) and further this cause by beginning a partnership between Rotary Clubs in the US and Haiti. For over 18 months, we presented to over 1,000 Rotarians in South Florida & Grand Bahama Island to raise $122,000 towards Project Medishare's Akamil Nutrition Factory. If you are familiar with Rotary, you would know their members consist of mostly business professionals who analyze every aspect of a project's sustainability. Our main concern was to convince people that the project is indeed sustainable, culturally sensitive, and has full-time oversight by an organization with a great track record.
Our passionate attitudes gave us the dedication to break down the walls of negativity against Haiti and build bridges. In an effort to build those bridges and increase global understanding, we traveled to Haiti to meet directly with Rotarians in Petionville and Hinche. As a result of a few students' efforts, many individuals have gained a greater understanding for Haiti and are more inclined to support and initiate projects in our neighboring country. Rotary Clubs in South Florida came together for the first time to partner on such a large scale project, and now many clubs are looking forward to other service projects in Haiti such as water treatment.
Every student that was a part of this campaign has carried this inspiring and challenging experience into their future. Some have even gone on to graduate school, in other parts of the country, and begun a similar campaign to benefit Haiti. When a local Rotary Club invested in me five years ago, that spark turned into a raging fire.