I've written frequently about the trip to Haiti I took last year with the Division of Volunteer Efforts because it still resonates daily in my life. This week is no exception.
Twice every year, DOVE takes a group of Seton Hall students to the Maison Fortune orphanage in the rural town of Hinche, Haiti. During the week in January 2011 that I spent there, my group immersed ourselves in spending time with the kids at Maison Fortune. Sadly, tragedy hit these smart and talented children last summer.
As the other SHU travelers and I were sadly informed, on July 7, 2011, a 16-year-old boy named Djoceus Noël from Maison Fortune drowned in the river near the orphanage. He and his brothers (including his twin, Djocenat) and a few other boys from the orphanage had asked permission to travel to Djoceus' grandparents' house to help prepare the land for planting. On the way back to the orphanage, the boys took a shortcut across the river. The current was stronger than anticipated, and Djoceus was swept under. The other boys tried to save him, but when they could not find him in the muddy water, they ran back to the orphanage for help. A search party was organized, but by nightfall Djoceus was not found. The group resumed the search the next day to no avail.
I remember meeting Djoceus. He was a friendly, funny young man – he and Djocenat were a regular pair of comedians, and they were inseparable. I can't imagine the pain the other members of the Maison Fortune community must feel at his absence every day, especially his twin brother. The memory of Djoceus, like the other boys and girls I met at Maison Fortune, stays with me, and the relationships I made with the children are constant reminders of how blessed I am to have been given a chance to go and learn from the people of Haiti.
In honor of Djoceus, DOVE is working to raise money to build and maintain a chicken coop at that will provide 1,000 chickens for the orphanage. This self-sustaining chicken coop will provide the children at Maison Fortune (over 200 in all) with a source of protein that they rarely get.
I urge every reader to consider donating to this worthy cause. Checks can be made to DOVE. For more information, contact student Nick Breza, who is helping to spearhead the project, at email@example.com, or stop by the DOVE office in the basement of Boland Hall.
Erin Bell is a senior journalism major from Burlington, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.