Students feel connection urges them to help Haiti

By 
  • January 25, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - Three months ago a troupe of young dancers from Haiti performed at Mississauga’s St. Joseph Catholic High School. So when news broke of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, teachers and students from the school rallied  to raise close to $2,000 in less than a week.

St. Joseph joined with several Ontario Catholic students as schools from across the province raised thousands of dollars for the relief effort almost overnight.

Deidre Pereira, St. Joseph High School’s chaplaincy leader, said there will be ongoing fundraisers until Lent. “What happened in Haiti was devastating and because of our school’s personal connection with Haiti, we could think of nothing else but to respond first in prayer and then through awareness and fundraising,” she said. 

Pereira and her family hosted the 8 Haitian dancers, aged nine to 32, from the Resurrection Dance Theatre in their home during the October visit, which was sponsored by the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board. Pereira said all of the dancers, former street children now living at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys,  survived the quake but their home was destroyed.

The school launched a “Solidarity Ribbons” campaign where students sported blue and red ribbons, the colours of the Haitian national flag. It also set up a “market place ministry” with tables set up in the atrium during lunchtime where Haitian artifacts and books about the lives of children in Haiti are being sold, with proceeds going toward the relief efforts.  St. Joseph is also planning a 30-hour fast and a benefit concert in February.

Toronto’s Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic High School students and staff collected over $200 from pizza sales. Students are planning to sell snacks at lunchtime this week to raise more funds for Development and Peace.

In addition to stories of devastation and loss, Steve de Quintal, said he’s hearing news of people “trying to stick this out together (like) celebrating Mass on the streets and sharing what little they have.”

At Oakville’s Mother Teresa elementary school, students remembered the earthquake victims through a special prayer liturgy.

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