Los Altos Students Helping Haiti

Posted on March 28, 2013 by  
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Los Altos High School’s Haiti Solidarity Club has embarked on a mission to help its sister school in the Caribbean country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

Sixty members of the club and a group of supporters recently hosted a fundraiser, netting approximately $30,000 for the Society of Providence United for the Economic Development of Pétion-Ville (SOPUDEP).

SOPUDEP, a Haitian-founded and -run grassroots social agency, provides free, accessible education to adults and children and supports economic empowerment for the poor. The school’s goal is to use the power of education to improve the quality of life for the poorest members of the community and instill pride and hope for a better future.

Over the February winter break, a group of 28 – including two teachers, a parent and Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Superintendent Barry Groves – visited SOPUDEP to deliver the aid and reconnect with Haitians the students met on previous trips.

“It’s safe to say that for everyone, it was one of the best experiences of our lives,” said Los Altos High teacher Seth Donnelly, trip organizer. “We had a wonderful bonding experience with the SOPUDEP students and family members.”

During the trip, the Los Altos students heard from a number of humanitarian organizations in Haiti, provided hard labor to help with construction at SOPUDEP and interacted with the school’s students.

“There was a high level of interaction between our students and the SOPUDEP students,” Donnelly said. “Our students learned a lot. Even though their Haitian counterparts don’t have a lot of physical things to give, they really raised awareness of the root causes of poverty in Haiti and what we can do to help. We see a strong ethic of solidarity these folks have in these grassroots organizations – that helps us further develop solidarity here at home.”

Los Altos High student Amanda Spielman said the trip was a culture shock, but interactions with the Haitian people were the highlights.

“There is such a beauty within Haiti,” she said. “People’s hearts are so beautiful and they are so proud of their people. The people in Haiti are working toward rebuilding their nation and they are just the most incredible people.”

Spielman worked with a group of SOPUDEP’s student leaders. Club members brought them a set of microscopes and demonstrated how to use them to test water quality, and also donated athletic equipment and recorders.

“(Demonstrating the microscopes and recorders) gave us a medium to work with the students,” she said. “That is everything we stand for. The trip wasn’t about just giving them something, it’s about working with them and building that relationship.”

Donnelly said Los Altos is the primary source of aid for the 17-classroom school.

“A lot of folks (in Los Altos) haven’t quite had the opportunity yet to see the bigger picture and how deep the poverty gets in the world and how intense the suffering can be,” he said. “This trip and relationship with SOPUDEP is really important to raise global consciousness.”

The Haiti Solidarity Club has scheduled a rummage sale 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Los Altos High School cafeteria, 201 Almond Ave.

Items for sale will include clothes, sporting goods, bicycles, helmets, cookware, small appliances, CDs, DVDs, books and small furniture.

Club members will accept donations 4-7 p.m. Friday in the high school cafeteria.

To donate or for more information, email Donnelly at seth.donnelly@mvla.net.



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