As most students were making their ways back to campus after Winter Break, one alumnus was making plans to travel across the globe.
Kim Turner, a 2007 graduate, isn’t sure when she will be going to Haiti for relief work, but she said she will likely have to wait until the end of February or beginning of March, due to extended flight restrictions.
Turner is a nurse and is going with a team of Peoria medics to help those who have suffered from the earthquake.
The earthquake, which hit Jan. 12, was a 7.0 on the Richter scale, the harshest rating. Since, there have been many aftershocks, ranking as high as 5.9.
The death toll is already more than 150,000.
Turner has been to Haiti twice before, but she said she knows this time will offer unpredictable challenges.
“They’ve been telling us that the pictures say a lot, but you can’t really understand it until you’re there,” she said. “They did try to prepare us for everything – even the smell of decaying bodies.”
When Turner was a student, she was a member of the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service Fellows. When Fellows heard about Turner’s mission, the members decided they wanted to help.
The group began collecting Band Aids, diapers, medicine, gauze and other relief materials.
“There’s so much different stuff, it’s hard to count,” member Annie Azriel said. “There’s probably about 20 boxes and bags.”
Azriel said residence hall floors and even a junior high have helped their collections.
Sophomore international relations major Genevieve Dejean also said she understands the need for relief work. As volleyball players, she and her twin sister have also been working with the athletic department and American Red Cross to try to sponsor events to retrieve aid.
Although Dejean is especially concerned with what’s happened in Haiti because both of her parents were born there and she still has family in the country, she stressed that everyone should be concerned with what’s happening there.
“This is a natural disaster, the same thing as Hurricane Katrina,” she said. “Even though it may not be affecting us, these are the kinds of things that people don’t have control of. People who can help should help.”
Dejean said she doesn’t think everyone can understand this.
“Today I saw on some girl’s Facebook something about how it’s sad how America is helping Haiti when they don’t help their own people,” she said. “And how 99 percent of people won’t have the guts to repost this.”
Fellows planned to stop collecting relief materials this week, but Azriel said that may change if flights continue to be pushed back.
“There’s tons and tons of different organizations in the Peoria community [students] can contact,” she said. “We can let them know what’s going on or help them find other agencies who can help.”
Students who would like to help can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org