U of T Scarborough helps Haiti

The University of Toronto Scarborough did their part for Haiti this week by hosting a candle light vigil to raise aid money.

Dozens of students and professors participated in the event on Tuesday, holding candles and giving memory and prayer to those most affected by the earthquakes.

“A lot of students and student clubs have contacted me saying they want to get involved,” said Murali Thambiaiah, vice-president of students and equity for the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union.

The need to get involved is great, many say, as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, devastating an already politically and financially ravaged nation. The earthquake was the strongest to hit the region in the last two hundred years and is estimated to have killed nearly 200,000 Haitians, and left many more homeless.

World leaders gathered in Montreal on Monday, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, discussing long-term aid support of up to 10 years for Haiti’s reconstruction. Over the weekend, Canada and the US held benefit concerts raising nearly $70 million collectively.

“A lot of people before didn’t know where is Haiti,” said Abner Agenor, a Haitian student at U of T Scarborough. “But now with this earthquake, everybody knows the Haitian people and where Haiti is.”

Agenor, who has lost family to the quake, says he sees this as an opportunity to build a new Haiti.

“I know it will be hard, it could take 10, even 25 years to rebuild Haiti. But if we work together, Haiti will rebuild.”

At U of T Scarborough, the campus community is helping Haiti in that rebuilding. A U of T professor and pathologist, Michael Pollanen, is part of a team of Canadians sent to assist in Haiti last week. He is currently helping to identity victims.

The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union is hoping to raise $20,000 in the coming month, which the Canadian government has agreed to double. All proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders.

“Our students have traditionally had a history of being very sensitized to international development relief because we are a very diversified international community,” said Tom Nowers, dean of student affairs.

Nowers said that the students raised $50,000 within two weeks after the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004.