Twelve members of the UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) charity group left Haiti just days before the country was struck by a massive earthquake. The earthquake, which occurred on Tuesday 13th January and measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, is estimated to have caused the deaths of between 30,000 and 200,000 people.
The alumni volunteers for UCDVO had been participating in development works in Gros Morne, a town situated about five hours north of Port-au-Prince. They had constructed two houses in the two weeks that they had been in the town and flew out of Port-au-Prince on Saturday. The team arrived back in Dublin on Monday, a day before the earthquake hit Haiti. This year had been the first that an alumni project had been put in place to visit Haiti.
UCDVO’s Manager Caroline O’Connor expressed her relief that she and her team had made it home safely and that those involved in their projects were safe, including their missionary partners the Sisters of Jesus and Mary. O’Connor stated that UCDVO were “in touch with them on Wednesday and the town of Gros Morne hasn’t been directly affected by the quake” and that “two of the missionaries have gone down to Port-au-Prince with supplies”.
UCDVO began an appeal for funds to aid the relief operations in Haiti on last Wednesday (January 14th) and are continuing fundraising efforts this week. O’Connor has appealed to UCD students who wish to get involved to get in contact, saying that UCDVO are “looking for more ideas and help to organise things.” She also told The University Observer that any students with ideas for events to raise funds should contact UCDVO.
O’Connor commented that the staff and student response to the appeal has been very strong. UCDVO volunteers have been collecting on Grafton Street since the quake, and O’Connor hopes that they will be able to continue to do so throughout the week. She expressed happiness at the fact that “staff have contacted us saying that they want to do something when term starts back.”
The organisation is to hold a nightclub event in BaseBar this Friday to raise money for the relief efforts, and tickets will be on sale around campus. Donations will be accepted at UCDVO’s website, www.ucdvo.org, and any staff or students who interested in getting involved in fundraising can call their office at (01) 7167793.