One Book program rallies staff, students for Haitian relief efforts

Anna Bisaro

About 50 students, professors and faculty members watched as a deaf Haitian girl recounted the January 12 earthquake through a combination of sign language and body expressions on-screen in the McCormick Tribune Center .

“The work is endless,” said Aline Lauture, treasurer of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, of the relief Haitians still need. “We’re looking for your involvement.”

Lauture was one of four members of the Congress who spoke Tuesday night as part of a panel event sponsored by One Book One Northwestern. This year’s book, “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” by Tracy Kidder chronicles Dr. Paul Farmer’s work in a number of impoverished nations including Haiti.

The lecture focused on generating student involvement with the Evanston-based organization with a mission to aid, strengthen and support the citizens of Haiti.

“You are always welcome to the Haitian Congress and to participate in the work,” Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd) told the audience.

Jean-Baptiste, who was born in Port-au-Prince and is the chairperson of the Congress, reminded attendees that the problems in Haiti were products of an unfortunate history, not failures of the Haitian people.

“We say that One Book One Northwestern is about reading, reflecting, as well as engaging,” said Dan Lewis, director of the Center for Civic Engagement and SESP professor. He also asked that students apply their NU education globally.

For some students, Lewis’ hope is already becoming reality.

Bienen freshman Paya Sarraf, read the book twice and attended the event to get more informed on the work of the Haitian Congress. He plans to contact the organization to see how he can contribute.

“In order to do anything about anything you have to be concerned about it,” Marie Toussaint, a board member of the Congress said. “From your concern, you can understand it, you can comprehend it. From your comprehension we want your commitment.”

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