From rubble to restoration

Haiti: one year after ... lending a help handBuilding, building, building in Haiti.

Many college students’ spring break trips mean escaping the lingering winter weather and heading closer to the equator to bask in warmer territory on a bed of sand with thousands of other 20 somethings.

For Jaime Sterling’s spring break getaway, she also headed south. But she’s did more than build sandcastles. Sterling, a sophomore communicative disorders major, just built an orphanage.

One year after the destruction caused by the Haitian earthquake, the rebuilding of homes and buildings is still underway.

"We knew that Haiti was in serious need of help and was still burdened by the devastation, so dedicating my spring break to a worthy cause helping others was exactly what I wanted to do," said Sterling.

Landing in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, Sterling was joined by 24 other individuals from churches in the Runnels, Pleasantville, Keokuk and Packwood areas who dedicated their spring break to helping others in need. 

Working on the hygiene of the Haitians. "As soon as we arrived, we were so excited to get started," said Sterling. "There were several people from the community at our worksite, so we knew we were going to be able to interact with the community as well as build an orphanage."

In addition to construction, the volunteers helped in other ways.

"Because we had such a large group, we were doing three different things each day," said Sterling. "Some people finished building a church, some started building the orphanage and some visited an orphanage. We also had one dentist and a hygienist in our group who pulled and cleaned teeth at a school."

Sterling's trip was a mind-altering experience.

"Some people never realize how much they take for granted," said Sterling. "Electricity, clean water and a roof over our head are things that we expect, but in some places, those are luxuries. There are so many things happening in the world that people only see in the news, but seeing it in the media is nothing compared to actually witnessing it. It's truly an indescribable experience."

As many college students returned to their campuses with bronzed skin, Jaime Sterling returned with a life-changing experience and a new appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.

The whole group of 25 volunteers. Jaime Sterling
A group of 25 individuals from churchs in the Runnels, Pleasantville, Keokuk and Packwood areas dedicated their spring break to building an orphanage. As Jaime Sterling spent her spring break helping those in need, she made global connections.