Haiti Emergency Relief Network

Haitan student John Compere spoke in front of Geisel Library to raise awareness and relief money for the victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

In the aftermath of the 7.0 quake that has already claimed an estimated 200,000 lives in Haiti, a new coalition of UCSD students is focusing on how it can help those still alive.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13 — while the fault lines running under Port-au Prince trembled in aftershock — Muir College senior Kenny Pettersen created a Facebook event for a glowstick vigil (to be held the following evening) and planned to fundraise from a booth on Library Walk for the rest of the week.

“I got tired of watching things on the news, and realized that there are a lot of resources here at UCSD, and a lot of students that have different gifts,” Pettersen said.

By Thursday night, Pettersen had accumulated 1,400 Facebook followers and raised over $3,000.

“It’s been amazing how well the school’s responded to everything,” said Pettersen.

For now, the network is mainly operating as a Facebook group (with 568 members as of Monday night), but Pettersen said this Tuesday’s meeting will possibly decide the group’s future (as an official student organization) as well as facilitate new fundraising ideas.

Glowsticks replaced candles at a vigil held on the night of the natural disaster.

“There’s going to be help needed for many, many years to come,” Pettersen said. “At least for the rest of the school year, we’re going to be doing as much as possible to get students involved.”

Though the nearly $5,500 the network has collected so far will be going to the American Red Cross, many members are eager to discuss other options for long-term development in the country — not just emergency relief. The destruction that stretched out from the earthquake’s epicenter has decimated much of the country’s infrastructure; collapsing countless homes, hospitals, businesses and government buildings.

“From my experience, Haiti has needed a lot of long-term development even before the earthquake,” Pettersen said. “And now with the earthquake, it has created so many more issues.”

This past July, Pettersen took his seventh medical trip to Haiti. Though he plans to attend medical school in the fall, he said hopes that the student group can continue to help the Caribbean country under new leadership.

The UCSD Haiti Earthquake Response Network will hold its first meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 in Conference Room 513 of the Student Services Center.

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