The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Haiti Solidarity Raises Funds for SOPUDEP

The Haiti Solidarity Club, which has scheduled its annual trip to SOPUDEP to coincide with February’s Winter Recess, hopes to use its time in Haiti this year to improve the quality of the educational facilities. In preparation for the trip, the club has worked hard to raise the necessary improvement funds.

On Sunday, January 16, the Haiti Solidarity Club held its annual silent auction in the First and Main Sports Lounge in downtown Los Altos. During the first part of the auction, the club effectively auctioned the necessities it needed. By posting the descriptions of various needs around the lounge, donators could shop for solar panels or “new doors,” allowing for individuals to make specific donations to one particular project within SOPUDEP. Those who attended the auction could choose a need and pledge a certain amount of money in a tax deductible donation. After the necessities auction, the Haiti Solidarity Club raised additional funds by selling Haitian artwork and items donated by local businesses. Through the auction, the club raised $15,000.

Alongside its traditional silent auction and box drive, Haiti Solidarity has also worked to raise funds by continuing to work on its organic farm. Using the land it has received to grow organic vegetables to sell to Los Altos residents, Haiti Solidarity has taken an unorthodox approach to raising funds.

The students themselves have grown the vegetables, putting in hours of time each week to make the farm a success. Though not all members help with the farm on a regular basis, most members have helped out on the endeavor at least once. Club Advisor Seth Donnelly organizes groups of students out to the farm to work on Thursdays and weekends.

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While the club has just started  to sell its broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kale and beets, sales to parents and teachers have already started bringing in approximately $100 a week.  As of the press deadline, February 5, Haiti has consistently earned $100 a week from vegetable sales for the past six weeks. Because not all the plants in the garden are fully grown yet, the club looks forward to even better sales once all plants reach full maturity.

“[The farm has] been so successful,” first semester Co-President Emily Small said. “We have [much more] demand than we have produce for…It’s been amazing.”

When asked about how the land was acquired, Haiti Solidarity Advisor Seth Donnelly accredited his friend Cornelia Fletcher, a volunteer who donated the land for the farm.

“[Fletcher is] a farmer, so [she] trained the students and taught us to operate the farm,” Donnelly said.  “With her guidance and support we have a little urban farm running now.”

The club has recently been acknowledged for making an impact, not only by the students and teachers at SOPUDEP and by LAHS, but also by “The New York Times. Nicholas Kristoff, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist wrote an article about the effects of foreign aid in Haiti in the opinions article “Can Foreign Aid Help This Girl?” It discussed SOPUDEP and Los Altos High School’s Haiti Solidarity club’s efforts to help the SOPUDEP.

In the article, Kristoff describes how a lot of foreign aid sent to Haiti gets lost due to corruption. Kristoff calls Haiti Solidarity’s work with our sister school “an exemplary marriage of local leadership and foreign donors.”

Members of the club will visit SOPUDEP in February. The students and chaperones will be paying their own way as usual so that all the money they have raised over the past few months can go directly toward giving aid and making improvements to the school campus and its resources. They will be bringing aid with them in the form of medical supplies, athletic equipment and clothing.

Another goal is to visit activists, women’s rights groups and orphanages in Haiti to learn about their work.

“[The visits are] my favorite,” first semester Co-President Kimberlyn Tilley said. “We get to really understand what it means to bring about change and exactly the type of people that do so.”

Club members will continue building SOPUDEP’s new campus, which will have 17 classrooms, a library, a computer lab, a full set of solar panels and a water system when it is finished.  While the club is not sure which parts of the school will need the most work when they arrive in February, club members will help with the buildings which are currently under construction.

“We’ve reached a point where we’re more than halfway done with the new school complex,” Donnelly said. “We’re hoping that students and staff will give generously [in the box drive] because we’re really trying to make a big push to complete the project.”

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