Haiti, recently devastated by Hurricane Matthew, is an annual community service destination for Seton Hall’s Division of Volunteer Services (DOVE). However, this year the trip has been relocated to Jamaica because of Hurricane Matthew and an outbreak of cholera.
Since 2007, DOVE has sent Seton Hall students annually to the Maison Fortune Orphanage where they volunteer, according to Michelle Peterson, director of DOVE. The annual volunteer site is located in Hinche, Haiti, and the orphanage supplies meals while raising awareness for Haitian youth.
Amanda Cavanaugh, assistant director of DOVE, expresses the disappointment felt about the inability to return to the group’s regular site.
“Sadly we won’t be able to go to Haiti where we have a lot of connections with the orphans,” Cavanaugh said. “But this is temporary and we don’t want to get in the way of any relief efforts like CRS (Catholic Relief Services).”
Although students won’t be sent to the orphanage this year, the volunteer effort will be rerouted to Moneague, Jamaica. This school year’s volunteer location in Jamaica will be to work alongside the Mustard Seed Organizations which help the developmentally disabled. Their objective is to form a healthy, productive environment for those vulnerable, disabled individuals.
Even though DOVE is not transporting students to Haiti, SHU has asked members of the community to donate to Catholic Relief Services, which is working in Haiti, Peterson added.
Cameron Wheeler, a senior diplomacy and international relations major, is from West Palm Beach, Fla. His family prepared for the storm and awaited the forecasted devastation to the region. Wheeler had unnerving feelings in preparation of Hurricane Matthew.
“They [Wheeler’s family] prepared the house in case we were without power for a prolonged period of time,” Wheeler said in an email. “My family and I were frightened by the potentially catastrophic storm that was preparing to slam the east coast of Florida. My neighborhood actually escaped unscathed.”
Unfortunately, hundreds of lives were lost and property damage was severe. Despite DOVE’s absence, the organization reaffirms its close connection with Haiti.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Haiti, who were already living in the poorest country in our hemisphere. Through prayer and fundraising efforts, we hope to ease their burden in even the smallest way,” Peterson said.
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.