Students participating at a past Urban Walk for Haiti

A three-mile walk through the streets of Cambridge, MA, on April 4 may help change the lives of five families living in some of the poorest communities in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Organized by a group of high school students and community activists, the annual Urban Walk for Haiti brings awareness of the dire situation faced by millions of Haitians forced to live with homelessness, hunger pains, HIV/AIDS, malaria, unsanitary water supplies, and other dire circumstances caused by poverty. Since the first walk was held six years ago, the event has raised over $100,000 for PIH projects in Haiti. This year, the organizers hope to raise at least $25,000, or enough to build five houses for impoverished families.

 
 

Poor patients are often forced to live in badly constructed houses.

 
 

A house built by Zanmi Lasante's Program on Social and Economic Rights.

Having a specific goal, like building houses, can help inspire people, says Michelle Levin, one of the organizers of the event. Last fall, four devastating hurricanes battered and flooded Haiti, destroying many houses in the Central Plateau and Artibonite regions, where Zanmi Lasante (PIH’s partner organization in Haiti) currently works. The poorest residents were generally the families hardest hit, as their houses tended to be poorly constructed to start with. Connecting the greater Boston community with the tragedies caused by the floods and giving a face to the Haitian community can help inspire participants to take part in a way to help those who suffered the most, says Levin. In past years, the walk has raised money for education and food projects, as well as electricity and lights for a health clinic.

In addition to raising money and awareness, the Walk for Haiti is also a celebration of PIH’s work in Haiti as well as the Haitian community, says Jennifer Schongalla, a New Hampshire teacher who is helping to organize the walk. The organizers are planning to have a strong presence of the Haitian community at the walk, as well as Haitian food, music, and dancing. PIH Medical Director Joia Mukherjee will also speak at the event. The event will be held on Saturday, April 4, starting at noon at 29 Mt Auburn St. in Cambridge. For more information, please visit http://walkforhaiti.org.

Get ideas for organizing your own event to support social justice, health care, and the work of PIH.

 

[posted March 2009]

 

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