Story by Ciona D. Rouse| United Methodist News Service
If New Orleans can recover from Hurricane Katrina, there is hope the people of Haiti will find new life after the massive earthquake that struck Jan. 12.
“I feel hope for those people,” said Charlie Coleman, a student leader at Dillard University in New Orleans.
“I know that those people in Haiti right now are feeling like there’s lost hope and there’s nothing that can be done because it was a natural disaster,” said Coleman, a freshman. “If New Orleans can overcome the obstacle with the help of the United States and with other countries and everybody working together, Haiti can rebuild, as well.”
Coleman and 23 other young leaders who are enrolled in or have graduated from the 11 United Methodist-related historically black colleges and universities gathered in Nashville for an orientation to The Black College Fund’s Lina H. McCord ambassador program.
As they learned more about telling the story of The Black College Fund, many students also followed the news closely to receive updates of the aftermath and responses to the Jan. 12 Haitian earthquake.
William Montgomery, a senior at Rust College in Holly Springs, Miss., has had Haiti on his heart for several months. The pastor of Ecru and Thaxton United Methodist churches said his mission team selected Haiti as its destination for summer missions.
Although he was originally unable to go on the mission trip with his congregation, Montgomery now feels called to connect his church with the United Methodist Committee on Relief and lead a team there when the time is right.
“God has a plan, and I’m going to probably change (my schedule) and end up leading the team to go help in whatever way we can,” Montgomery said.
The young leaders were happy to see communities coming together to support the people of Haiti in their immediate recovery, especially seeing the success of social networking efforts reaching young audiences.
“I’m impressed with the response,” said Courtneika Hudson, a senior at Paine College in Augusta, Ga. “I know there is a lot of stigma in society about young people not really caring a lot about what’s going on in the world. So just to see the outreach that we have … it was actually quite rewarding to see that.”
The student leaders have helped to coordinate relief efforts on their campuses, like conducting clothing and food drives and holding fundraising events for Haiti.
Recognizing Haiti’s long history of poverty, the students also hope that the efforts will continue past the immediate relief.
“I want people to realize that it has to be a continued effort in helping a country, a city, even a state rebuild and become what it once was,” Coleman said.
*Rouse is a freelance writer based in Nashville.
News media contact: David Briggs, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo caption: Courtneika Hudson, senior at Paine College and former Black College Fund Lina H. McCord Ambassador.