Students honor victims of Haiti crisis with vigil

About 25 people marched from the Student Center patio to the Walton-Putnam lounge Tuesday night as part of a vigil in honor of the Haitian earthquake victims.

The organizer of the march, Katie Baker, described the purpose and significance of the walk: “This is a time of silence, reflection, prayer; it’s your time.”

In lieu of candles, participants used the light from their cell phones during the procession. At the Walton-Putnam lounge, there was a presentation on the aftermath of the Jan. 12 quake.

Afterward, Rhonda DeLong, web communications and new media director, discussed the tragedy.

“I don’t know what you were thinking, but when I first heard about the earthquake and what happened on Tuesday, my heart went out to the people of Haiti,” DeLong said. “But I also thought we are part of a community here at Eastern Michigan University that has resources among its people.”

DeLong raised questions about what people can do to help the victims in Haiti.

“What sorts of things could we do, what sorts of things should we do as a community to reach out to the people of this nation over the long haul,” she asked.

DeLong described what made the disastrous results of the Haitian earthquake different from any other.

“One of the reasons why events like this are so devastating in places like that is that they don’t have an infrastructure like we’re accustomed to,” she said, “Their buildings aren’t set up to handle seismic waves; they’re not mobilized to be able to manage catastrophic events within their nation.”

Unfortunately, the efforts to rebuild Haiti may be much more difficult than expected.

“What I predict will happen is what happens essentially in every situation like this, which is over time, over the period of the next few months, the international community will move on to whatever’s the next big thing,” DeLong said.

“Whatever happens, people will sort of lose interest in this and we’ll still have this nation of destitute people who are suffering through infrastructure collapse.”

Boxes for food and money donations were available as well.

After the presentation, participants were encouraged to sign banners which read, “Eastern Michigan University sends hope to Haiti.”

Students or faculty interested in donating money or materials to Haiti can go to, for a list of charitable organizations.

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