’Hurst helps Haiti’s prisoners


Kristian Biega, Staff writer

Third-world countries like Haiti unfortunately do not have access to hygiene products that we take for granted every day. For this reason, the Mercyhurst Public Health Club plans to combat this issue head-on through its “Better Hygiene for Haiti” events, with the kickoff that began Nov. 17. Approximately 70 people came to support the cause.
This program is unique because it focuses on providing feminine hygiene products to Haiti’s female prisoners. In a country that has very little resources for its citizens, the conditions for prisoners are nearly inhumane.
“About 25 percent of women are held with no legal cause, the prisons are overcrowded (not uncommon to have 40 people in one cell) and people often wait three to four years before going before a judge to be officially charged with their crime,” Sarah McCool, assistant professor of Public Health, said.
McCool was also able to use her experience in Haiti, Indonesia and Bangladesh to get the conversation started about the terrible conditions in these countries. McCool has been working with her connections in Port-au-Prince to get the products to the women in need. The club will collecting both funds and products to send to prisons in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
This country was chosen not only because of its recent natural disasters and poor economy, but because of Mercyhurst’s connections with Haiti.
“I made it my goal that my last year at Mercyhurst and as club president that I wanted to have a school year-long fundraiser for a specific component of public health,” Public Health Club President Susan Baltes said.
Baltes said she is very grateful the board members, club members, McCool and Thomas Cook, Ph.D., assistant professor of Public Health, for helping to make the campaign possible.
This initiative was started by the Public Health Club and has four main goals to be accomplished by March 2017. The first is to launch a global health fundraising campaign that will help the monetary aspect of the initiative.
The second goal is to create a more creative, collaborative and informed club at Mercyhurst that is able to communicate the needs of less fortunate countries. The third goal is to set a precedent for the coming years and create a plan for continued campaigning.
The final goal is to raise $1,000 to purchase and send hygiene products to women in Haiti.
The club will also be hosting events every month to reach their goal by March. The events will include a Bake Sale, Soup and Hot Chocolate Sale, Game Tournament, Performance Showcase and Campaign Shirt Sale, a Ceremony Dinner and Raffle. They are also doing a recycling initiative that will occur throughout the school year.
The kickoff was a huge help in allowing the club to create more ideas for fundraising.
“It is important to us to share methods of prevention, promotion and protection. With the Mercy Missions and the implemented IMU classes, this campaign is a way for students to be socially merciful, compassionately hospitable, globally responsible, intellectually creative and reflectively aware,” Baltes said.
The main goal of “Better Hygiene for Haiti” is to create a spirit of involvement and solidarity with those in need.