Donation drive yields 93 pounds of supplies for children in hurricane-ravaged Haiti
January 13, 2017
In early October, Hurricane Matthew made modern history. It became the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Haiti in 52 years.
Originally a westbound storm moving through the southern Caribbean, Matthew made a sharp northward turn on Oct. 1, hooking onto a path that would carry it straight through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, before moving on to threaten the East Coast of the United States.
But standing between Matthew and the Windward Passage was Haiti’s Tiburon Peninsula – a thin east-to-west crest of land that forms Haiti’s southernmost region. With the peninsula positioned as a helpless geographical hurdle, the storm slammed directly into it on the morning of Oct. 4, tearing into towns and countryside with 145 mile-per-hour winds.
Belice was barely a month into his first semester at Tri-C when Matthew hit Haiti. More than 1,000 miles away in Cleveland, all he could do was watch the news and wait. Days passed before he heard from relatives back home.
“It’s very traumatic to be far away in another country when something like that happens,” said Lori Brindisi, Belice’s international student advisor at Tri-C. “He immediately started thinking of ways to help the people in his hometown, and it was amazing how the Tri-C community rallied around him.”
In particular, Belice’s thoughts turned to his former school in Petit-Goâve, which had given so much to him in his early life. The storm’s destruction had rendered the school incapable of holding classes.
With the goal of reopening the school as quickly as possible, Belice and Brindisi helped to organize a donation drive. Throughout the fall semester, they collected clothing, school supplies and athletic equipment. Belice presented the collected items to the school when he returned to Haiti in December for winter break.
By the time the drive ended, the Tri-C community had responded with 93 pounds of supplies, including pens and pencils, t-shirts, shorts, loose-leaf paper, even a tennis racket and tennis balls, so Belice – an accomplished tennis player – can continue to teach the game to students when he’s home.
However, that won’t be until summer. Belice returns to Tri-C with the rest of the student body to begin the spring semester on Jan. 17. But he returns with the knowledge that he’s helped his hometown take some important steps on the road to rebuilding.
“I think Gregory is going to do great things for Haiti, and will continue well after he’s graduated from Tri-C,” Brindisi said. “He’s taught an important lesson to all of us. Just because a disaster happens far away, and it’s not in your backyard, it doesn’t mean you’re not responsible to help those affected.”