As Haitians continue to struggle against the lingering effects of a devastating earthquake, AU students came together to help support the ongoing relief effort.
Caribbean Circle, a student group, and the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity sponsored “AU Rising for Haiti,” a benefit concert with a recommended donation of $10 per person. The concert, hosted in the Kay Spiritual Life Center on Jan. 22, featured various AU performers including a capella groups, singers, a comedy troupe and more.
Over 400 people attended, according to Brian Banks, a senior in the School of International Service, who helped organize the event. The event raised over $3,000 for Partners in Health, a non-profit organization currently running General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, according to the event’s program.
Leah Bomberger, an AU alumna recently back from mission work in Haiti, commended the audience for their spirit of joy and hope.
“How the Haitian people would want you to help them ... [is to] rejoice,” she said. “Rejoice for what is to come.”
Banks said he felt obligated to act after seeing reports of more than 100,000 people dead.
“Something about this disaster struck me more than any other disaster at any other time,” he said. “It gripped me so much I knew I couldn’t do nothing.”
Banks, who said the event came together at the last second, said he was “mind-blown” by its turnout.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better group,” he said. “The performers gave it everything they had. People were opening up their pockets and digging deep for donations.”
One goal of the benefit was to raise awareness of the country and its culture in addition to the current tragedy.
“There are so many stereotypes about Haiti, but now people are looking into the country, seeing its rich history and its beauty,” event organizer Yanique Campbell, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “I believe the earthquake is a turning point for Haiti ... everything will come together.”
Emily Weinrebe, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of Dime A Dozen, said she was excited to be both participating in and watching “AU Rising for Haiti.” She said it gave her a sense of the earthquake’s impact on the people and their homes.
“All the groups are amazing, and this is an unbelievable way to get everyone together to help,” she said. “AU’s response has been awesome. This school is really passionate about its activism and tonight is a great example of how committed we are.”
Though the benefit raised over $3,000, many in Haiti continue to suffer. Event organizer Nakeesha Jeanne Ceran, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, lost her cousin in the earthquake and reminded people not to let Haiti become another forgotten headline.
“It’s one thing to give your money and have a good time, but it’s another thing to learn from the experience,” Ceran said. “Everyone needs to keep learning because it’s what makes us a stronger country ... and will make Haiti a stronger country as well.”
In the coming weeks, Caribbean Circle will sell T-shirts and pizzas and hold a fashion show featuring Caribbean designers. All proceeds will go to Haiti. The club will also be placing donation boxes throughout campus. For more information on how you can help, visit http://american.edu/ocl/haitirelief/.