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Alexandra Fiefie, the In-Country Liaison for Mercy Focus on Haiti, visited Professor Janice Nuss’ Human Behavior in the Social Environment class on Friday, September 16.
Gwynedd Mercy University has long collaborated with Mercy Focus on Haiti (MFOH) to support Haiti, most recently on a successful pillowcase drive to replace the plastic bags commonly used for food distribution that pollute Haiti.
Fiefie is from Jacmel, a port town in southern Haiti. She introduced the students to country’s history, cuisine, music, fashion, the beauty of its mountainous environment, and its many challenges, from areas of extreme poverty to natural disasters – such as the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake – to political unrest, such as this summer’s assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
She taught the students common phrases in the Haitian Creole language, describing the local people as friendly and positive.
Fiefie also shared some of the impacts that MFOH has made for Haiti, including one impoverished, drought-stricken area called Gros Morne. Hens were purchased for a valuable source of nutrition (eggs), and facilities for harvesting rain water were installed, among other projects.
“Mercy Focus on Haiti is a model organization,” said Fiefie. “We hear from the local community, we collaborate with them, we support them, and we make things happen.”
While many classes, clubs, and GMercyU’s Campus Ministry have worked with MFOH, this year, a University-wide MFOH project will be led by Tatiana Diaz, GMercyU’s AVP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Professor Nuss challenged her class of future social workers to starting thinking of ideas and how they may contribute.
“We have a responsibility as humans, as Mercy people, to support those in great need,” said Fiefie.
Did You Know?
• The first successful slave rebellion took place in Haiti in 1804, when Haitians won their independence from France.
• Haiti is home to the 8th wonder of the world, the fortress of La Citadelle Laferriere.
• While French is the official language of Haiti, only 5% of locals speak it. They largely speak Haitian Creole instead.
• Famous tennis play Naomi Osaka’s father was born in Haiti.