Yale Community Continues To Band Together To Raise Awareness of and Help Ease Nation’s Needs

Yale's Haiti medical relief team has returned from the earthquake-ravaged nation. Meanwhile, efforts continue on campus to raise funds to help victims of the disaster and to raise awareness about the conditions there.

Yale’s Haiti medical relief team has returned from the earthquake-ravaged nation. Meanwhile, efforts continue on campus to raise funds to help victims of the disaster and to raise awareness about the conditions there.

Medical team returns

The six-member Yale medical relief team returned to New Haven on Feb. 1, having spent six grueling days providing life-saving trauma and surgical care to 400 children and adults.

The physicians and medical professionals from Yale Medical Group, Yale School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital flew to Haiti on a corporate jet donated by Dassault-Falcon, carrying thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies, and enough food and water for each person on the mission.

They set up operations in the Hinche region of Haiti, north of the devastated capital city Port-au-Prince, where many of the injured had been evacuated for treatment. Conditions, they report, were brutal; many of the refugees had left everything behind, enduring long, hot journeys over unpaved and debris-covered roads to get treatment.

While the hospital lacked many basic medical necessities, the team members worked round-the-clock performing sur­geries, repairing broken bones and dealing with extensive internal “crush” injuries.

The Yale team members were: Dr. Gregory Luke Larkin, emergency medicine; Dr. Dirk Johnson, trauma surgery; physician associate Donald MacMillan, emergency department; registered nurse Tom Kimberly, emergency department; Dr. Nousheh Saidi, anesthesiology; and Peter Boone, orthopaedics, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Bridgeport.

Haitian-American students rally support

In the days following the earthquake in Haiti, Yale College seniors Arlene Barochin and Jean-Phillip Brignol were among those anxiously awaiting news from the nation.

It was nine days before Barochin, a first-generation Haitian American, was able to learn that the 50 members of her family who still live on the island were safe (although there was only one partially habitable house among them). In fact, she said, people from Haiti were calling their relatives in the United States to find out if anyone had heard from other family members who were still missing.

“I was crying for almost two days,” she recalls. “My family has been taking people in when they can get out of Haiti, but they have no money, so my family is trying to support all these people — it is very hard.”

Brignol, meanwhile, was also awaiting word from Haiti. “We were worried about my grandmother and great grandmother who we had just seen over the summer on vacation,” he says. “The house is dangerous, but they were able to save some of the food that we had left when we were there. It won’t last forever, and aid is getting in only slowly.

“It’s the things you take for granted here that become the hardest to deal with,” Brignol notes. “Basic infrastructure like the banks, are gone — with all the records of the value of individual deposits, so even if you have money, you have no means to prove it or use it.”

The two students responded to the disaster by founding Help Can’t Wait — Haiti, a student group dedicated to addressing the long-term problems the nation faces. They have joined with another campus group, the Yale for Haiti Collaborative, to organize a variety of fundraisers, and have arranged a new way for students to donate: by giving their flex points toward relief efforts.

For information on flex-point donations, as well as other ways Yale community members can contribute to relief efforts, visit http://opa.yale.edu/haiti/donate.htm.

Law students raise $20,628

Inter-school competition fueled a fundraising effort organized by students at the Yale Law School.

Law students took part in a Class Challenge marathon Jan. 25-Feb. 4, with first-year, second-year, third-year and grad students competing to see which class could raise the most money for charitable organizations providing aid to Haiti.

Students — as well as staff and faculty they manage to recruit — donated on behalf of the class of their choice to such organizations as the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Internal Rescue Committee, MedCorp International, Partners In Health, Rescue Union Mission, Salvation Army in Canada and Unicef.

The Class of 2010 prevailed in the competition, contributing $9,101 out of a total $20,628 raised.

The fundraising culminated with a joint fundraising effort by law students and The Playwright Irish Pub and Restaurant in New Haven. At an all-school party at The Playwright on Feb. 4, students were encouraged to donate the cost of a drink, or more if they wished, to the Haiti relief effort, and The Playwright donated a portion of their liquor sales for the evening. The amount collected from the event totaled $685. Law School organizers said it was a way to make the party not just enjoyable, but meaningful.

“Given the stunning, amazing outpouring of support from the Law School community, it seemed only natural to pair our fundraising efforts with a Law School social tradition,” said Nabiha Syed, a member of the school’s Class of 2010.

“We are so proud of the determined efforts of our students to organize aid and assistance in the wake of this terrible tragedy,” added Law School Dean Robert Post.

Beyond the financial support, Yale Law School students are planning a panel discussion later this month to consider the future of Haiti and are also examining ways to support legal programs related to Haiti.

“Haiti Week” fundraiser scheduled

“Haiti Week,” a program of special events designed to raise relief funds for earthquake victims and awareness of the island’s culture, will take place Feb. 22-27.

Events will include art exhibitions and sales; brown-bag lunch discussions; a Haiti exhibit at the Yale University Art Gallery; a Caribbean fete and Mardi Gras Party; and a Haitian film festival. The week-long program is sponsored by the Yale for Haiti Collaborative. For details, visit http://opa.yale.edu/haiti.

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