It's “Helping Haiti Week” at Monomoy Regional High School.
With more than a dozen Haitian-American or native Haitian students, the tragedies that have befallen the Caribbean country – the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July and the Aug. 14 earthquake – hit close to home. Many areas of the nation have not yet recovered from three major hurricanes that hit the island in less than 10 years.
Students and teachers at the school are banding together to bring attention to the country and raise money for Hope For Haiti, a nonprofit aimed at reducing poverty which is working to provide disaster relief for the southern part of the country, where the recent earthquake struck, killing more than 2,000 people.
Plastic cups adorned with the Haitian flag have been placed around the school to collect donations. Haitian music will be played in the cafeteria this week, and the faculty will hold a pre-school breakfast fundraiser Friday.
“The Haitian community has become a big part of this school,” said English as a second language teacher Mimi van der Burg, who is helping organize the fundraiser along with English teacher Lisa Forte-Doyle.
“They've all become responsible people in our community and they're very hard-working,” Forte-Doyle said, rattling off a list of Chatham, Harwich and Monomoy High graduates of Haitian descent who have gone on to become professors, teachers and business people.
Haiti gets very little attention; the news cycle moved on quickly from both the assassination and earthquake, but the impact of those events has a far-reaching impact on students, said Forte-Doyle. One student's family lost its home in the earthquake, said van der Burg.
Five of the students recorded a video that is played during morning announcement this week to remind the school of the fundraiser. They said they feel like they are seen by their fellow students and the school's teachers.
“I feel like people care,” said Rood Cheron. Recent events in the country are “heartbreaking,” she added, although Harrison Aristhomane added that the Haitian people are resilient.
To donate to Hope for Haiti, visit HopeForHaiti.com. There is a link to donate in the school's weekly newsletter, which can be found at monomoy.edu in the “News” section on the high school page.