Two nights ago, my heart stopped.
Maybe you’re like me — a habitual news reader, constantly refreshing various news sites, Twitter and Facebook. Even my voracious consumption of news had ill prepared me for the Haitian earthquake, for the steady photo stream of children trapped in the rubble and reports of United Nations buildings completely obliterated.
Unthinkable were mortality statistics that ranged from 30,000 to 100,000. I panicked when I saw the first article and quickly clicked the tiny X on the top-right corner of my browser.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
People interested in donating to disaster relief efforts in Haiti through the University may make donations out to the Campus Y, c/o Extended Disaster Relief. Donations may be dropped off at the Campus Y or mailed to:
180A E. Cameron Avenue YMCA Building University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill CB #5115 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-5115
Extended Disaster Relief (EDR) was created in 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, by a passionate group of UNC students who believed that communities affected by natural disasters deserve short-term and sustainable disaster relief efforts that are efficient and effective.
“It’s not if, it’s when” is something we say a lot in Extended Disaster Relief, and no one expects the “when” to occur during the first week of the semester.
Yes, my initial response was panic, and a deep sadness, but like many here at Carolina, it quickly turned to action. And not individual action — the kind of community action and idea-sharing that has become an integral part of my experience as a student here at UNC.
As a committee that is a part of the Campus Y, Extended Disaster Relief is lucky to be connected to a community of committees and students who are also engaged in social justice.
In 2005, EDR was one of many on-campus organizations seeking campus resources and organizing events to support relief efforts in the Gulf Coast. The UNC response to Hurricane Katrina and the communities affected by Katrina was tremendous but there was a lot of on-campus redundancy and stretching of resources.
I’m grateful this time around to be a part of the Y community and to also be collaborating with student government, the Gillings School of Public Health and many other student organizations.
Can you imagine what UNC’s response to this natural disaster and to the Haitian people could be if even more students and student organizations pooled their resources and talents and collaborated on disaster relief efforts here at UNC?
Time and time again, the UNC community has proven that in the face of adversity, we are stronger collectively than we are as individuals. While I was in the Campus Y today, someone showed me a photo that brings this idea home. The image, which was on the CNN homepage for a short time, was of a Haitian man wearing a UNC basketball jersey, carrying an injured woman out of the rubble of the recent earthquake.
That image, the sight of someone wearing our colors and our jersey, made me feel all the more connected to the people of Haiti. I also believe that if an individual in a community thousands of miles away can embody the Carolina Way, we can join forces on our campus to do the same.
Alex Loizias is the chairwoman of Extended Disaster Relief at the Campus Y. Contact Loizias at email@example.com.
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