In light of the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew and in alignment with the mission of Global Engagement week, the Center for Student Action (CSA) raised funds last week to send water filters to people in Haiti. Over 1.4 million Haitians currently require assistance after the storm, and the need for clean water is imperative considering how quickly water-borne illnesses spread.
CSA has partnered with Friends and Family Community Connection, a San Diego-based non-profit that sends food and water to countries in need. CSA raised $3,750 for Haiti, enough to purchase 50 water filters at $75 each.
After a week of chapel speakers preaching about the importance of worldwide involvement, the fundraising allowed the campus community to get involved immediately. CSA Director for Mobilization Karen Rouggly said that raising money for the filters was an easy way for students to be globally involved while still at APU.
“This was such a natural connection for us to be able to send the organization some water filters now to be able to meet the immediate need, but recognizing that true partnership and true community development takes time,” Rouggly said. “We wanted to go with an organization that already had their feet on the ground in Haiti and it wasn’t just a one-time thing. We wanted to be able to do consistent work.”
Rouggly emphasized the importance of maintaining longstanding relationships with the people and organizations in Haiti.
“We’re not going in and perpetuating the white savior mentality, but we’re saying, ‘How can we come alongside you and meet your needs?’” Rouggly said.
CSA Associate Vice President for Internationalization Matt Browning said he has had a heart for helping Haiti for years, as he has been on several mission trips and a speaking engagement in various parts of the country. Because of the reoccurring natural disasters and lack of government resources, Browning said Haiti faces a never-ending cycle of challenges.
“Clean water seemed like the most logical, quick, practical way to try to provide some relief to as many people as possible,” Browning said. “My biggest concern for students is that we have a responsibility because of what we have, the wealth of opportunities and money that most of us have in this country, how we can begin to spread that out more equitably.”
Browning said he believes it is not a matter of choosing one nation or another to assist, but seeking to meet needs both physically and spiritually in as many places as possible.
“As Christians, we have to understand God’s heart for the nations, that every human being created has access to the gospel,” Browning said. “We’re horribly imbalanced in my opinion in how we spend our time, money and energy advancing the kingdom around the world.”
CSA is preparing to send 28 Action Teams internationally next summer, one of which will go to Haiti. Junior political science major Chloe Buckler, who will be co-leading the team, said the response and support for Haiti this week has been humbling.
“It’s really cool that we’re able to work with the same organization and fulfill that need for them and for the Haitian people, and then be able to go and work with that same organization and physically partner alongside them over the summer,” Buckler said.
Since CSA has sent groups to Haiti in past years, Buckler said the country is dear to many people on campus. While there in July 2017, the team will focus on meeting needs in community development, medical issues, ecology, education and orphanages.
“We are called to respond when our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are in need of something,” Buckler said.
CSA is currently taking applications for action teams until Nov. 11 and will be conducting interviews in the weeks following. To apply or get more information, visit centerforstudentaction.org/what-we-do/action-teams/. To connect with the office, visit apu.edu/student action.