Alternative Spring Break 2012 - Haiti
Howard University > Alternative Spring Break 2012
East Meadow Native Extends Hometown Service Commitment to Haiti

By Zakiyyah Kelly
Howard University News Service

East Meadow High School graduate, Phelishia Midy, knows it’s a long, long way from her hometown in New York to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, just over 1330 miles, to be exact.

The reality is even further away when she compares the comforts of East Meadow to homeless Haitian families still living in tents, struggling for food and water and living in fear of violence more than two years after the 2010 earthquake devastated the Caribbean island.

But this spring break, while many of her college colleagues are lounging on the beaches in Mexico or partying in Las Vegas, Midy, whose family attends Sacred Heart Catholic Church, will be in Haiti along with other Howard University students working to help families and children as part of the University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program.

Midy, 20, whose mother is a nurse at the Woodland Hospital in Brooklyn and whose father supervises two sites for the Port Authority in New York and New Jersey, went to Haiti last year as a participant.  This year, she is the site coordinator, responsible for making all of the logistics preparations; from arranging sites the students would visit to making sure they get from one site to the other in a timely fashion.

Each year, more than 300 students from Howard travel to cities across the United States.  This is their second year in Haiti.  For 2012, they will travel to New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Washington to help underserved communities.  

Midy’s commitment to service began with outreach programs in her hometown.  In 2008, she received The Children of Hope Award for raising the most funds at her school for charity. At age 15, she donated her time training young children in dance technique, and a year later performed, in nursing homes for the elderly with the June Claire Dance Studio.  In 2010, she fed hungry families in Long Island in 2010 as part of United Nations Children's Fund effort.

“Since I had been previously involved in community service at home, it wasn’t hard for me to find ASB,” Midy said.  “I wanted to share and open greater opportunities for people like the ones I was exposed to.”

Midy said she looks forward to returning to Haiti because there is still much to do.

“My first year at ASB was an eye-opener,” she said.  “I didn’t notice that we had so many cultural differences until I got a chance to see it with my own eyes.  They are really struggling over there, but through their situations, they still push through.  It was also very humbling to see how much they value education.”

Last year, the group worked with a local orphanage, L’ecole Bon Samaritan, where they taught their students English and mathematics, she said.

“We also conducted entrepreneurship workshops with the children of the Haitian American Caucus, a movement to improve the lives of the Haitian-American community and its allies,” Midy said.  “We helped to reconstruct one of the walls near the school that was knocked down during the 2011 earthquake.”

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