Feature Stories 2017: Share Esperanza: Haiti service mission

Christian Louis '19 at his parents' school, the Ke Kontre School in Lilavois, Haiti.
Feature Stories 2017: Share Esperanza: Haiti service mission
Share Esperanza: Haiti service mission

Students working with the service organization traveled to Haiti in January to donate clothing, food, and supplies.

Five members of Share Esperanza, a UMass Dartmouth student service organization, completed a mission trip to Haiti in January.

Participating in the mission were (pictured left to right in the last photo):

Jemila DeGraffenreid
 '18, Secretary
Crime & Justice Studies

Hometown: Boston, MA

Nataki DeGraffenreid '18, Public Relations Chair
Crime & Justice Studies; English minor
Hometown: Boston, MA

Ausubel Pichardo '16
Hometown: Lawrence, MA (originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic)

Daina Ricketts '19
Political Science; International Relations concentration
Hometown: Grafton, VT

Christian Louis '19, Vice-President
Civil Engineering; Sustainability minor
Hometown: Randolph, MA (originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti)

Personal care packages, food, water & school supplies

Share Esperanza members and volunteers collected, washed, sorted, and packed the donations, which included personal care packages, food, water, clothing, and school supplies. The group was also able to host its first soccer tournament for young children in Port-Au-Prince, in collaboration with RAW Haiti, a Westport-based nonprofit also committed to supporting the people of Haiti.

Christian Louis '19, vice-president of the group, said, "With the help of our friends, families, UMassD staff members, American Airlines, and volunteers, we were able to successfully deliver 2096 pounds of donated items to school children and individuals living in impoverished communities."

Christian explained that the mission team was able to stay at his parents' home in Lilavois during their January 10-17 visit.

"The donations that we gathered reached the communities of Lilavois, Marre Roseau, Titanyen, and Canaan, as well as the Damabiah orphanage," he said. "During our stay, we coordinated our donation distribution and made professional contacts with people of interest for possible future mission trips."

Public relations chair Nataki DeGraffenreid '18 reflected on Share Esperanza's support of schools and school children, "The most important thing to do right now in 2017 is to inspire our youth, our children, so they can be great in whatever they want to do in the future."

Service around the world & close to home

Over the past three years, Share Esperanza has been involved in helping communities in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and, locally, in New Bedford. Members have also helped build a water well in Nigeria for the people of Ozu Abam. The group was founded by alumnus Ausubel Pichardo '16 and current PhD student Gustavo Franco Reynoso '16. Gustavo serves as president of Share Esperanza, and Prof. Memory Holloway is faculty advisor.

UMassD's Campus Sustainability & Residential Initiatives supported the mission by diverting some food and clothing from its mid-year collection program, in which students donate items they might otherwise discard. Group members sorted through clothing to find seasonally appropriate items.

"It was a pleasure to work with Share Esperanza and nice to see our donations having both a local and international impact," said Jamie Jacquart, assistant director for Campus Sustainability & Residential Initiatives.

More information

If you'd like to join Share Esperanza, please contact: Nataki DeGraffenreid at ndegraffenreid@umassd.edu