Path Home Shows 2010 Show Archive May 2010 Show 1018 Hearts for Haiti

Hearts for Haiti

When a 7.0 earthquake struck the capitol of Haiti earlier this year, a young Oklahoman knew he needed to help; and in doing so, changed lives both here in the state and in the Haitian capitol.
Hearts for Haiti

Hearts for Haiti

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Show 1018: Hearts for Haiti

Air date: May 2, 2010



Rob:  Well when a 7.0 earthquake struck the capitol of Haiti earlier this year, a young Oklahoman knew he needed to help; and in doing so, changed lives both here in the state and in the Haitian capitol.

Today, I want to introduce you to a unique young man who has a heart for Haiti; and the will to use his own money and muscle, to improve lives around the globe.

Well it’s prom night in Oklahoma, but on this darkened dance floor, something entirely different is going on.

Billy Silva:  One thing that Americans do that international students don’t, is prom.  I mean, it’s a great American tradition and what better way to get to Haiti than to have an international prom.

Rob:  So, Billy Silva and fellow OSU students decided to throw a party, with a purpose.

Billy:  The first obviously, we wanted to raise some money and awareness for Haiti.  We were concerned that once the news cameras left Haiti, once the focus shifted away from Haiti that people would forget.  We wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.  Secondly, we wanted to throw a great event on campus that would bring international and domestic students together under one night, and everyone could have a great night and remember it.

Rob:  Raising money for disaster relief, while having fun; OSU President, Burns Hargis.

Burns Hargis:  You know, you help yourself by helping others; if you focus on yourself, you’re not really going to get anywhere.  When you focus on the welfare of others, everything else takes care of itself.

Rob:  A lesson one student knows firsthand.

Rock Andre:  It was really so terrible for me, I was so painful.

Rob:  A Fulbright Scholar from Haiti, Rock Andre lost family and friends in the quake.

Rock:  I really want to say thank you.  Thank you to all the students, they are young students, as me, most of them they didn’t really have a good idea about Haiti for, but since the earthquake happened they saw the message on tv and everyone wanted to do something for Haiti.

Rob:  And that they did.  Every dime of the money raised here is going to an organization called Hands On Disaster Response, a group that brings in volunteers willing to work to rebuild disaster struck areas.  So, after the night’s last dance, the real work begins.

Rob:  Spring break began as a bumpy ride for Billy Silva.

Billy Silva:  The ride from the airport; more to follow.

Rob:  Arriving in Port-au-Prince, Billy finds a city struggling to rebuild.  Tent cities litter the roadside, a necessity for families whose homes are no more.  Government here is in shambles, and people’s lives even more difficult than they were before.

Billy:  Yesterday was the two week, two month anniversary of the earthquake, today’s my first morning, first true morning in Haiti, right now I’m on the roof of our building looking east towards the sunrise.  The drive from the airport was interesting, the destruction here, it’s really incredible of just how much destruction there is and the scope of the destruction.  So you were driving and you’d see just enormous tent cities, maybe a thousand tents in one block, and small tents too, maybe like five foot by four foot tents; these people are living in nothing.

Rob:  Which is why Billy’s here, helping families rebuild with sweaty, back-breaking work.

Billy:  We went out and worked on a site last night, we cleared some, we cleared a ladies slab and she was in there working with us; she was grabbing bricks out of the pile to save.

Rob:  Even the simplest of things are valuable in a country where most people have nothing; wanting to rebuild, but with little way to do it.

Billy:  Haitian people are some of the most resilient people, people I’ve ever encountered.  To live your entire life under such downward pressure and still be able to stand is really, really impressive.

Rob:  Along with other volunteers, Billy cleared rubble; starting every morning and working into every night.

Billy:  Breakfast starts at 6:30, roll out to the work site at 7:30; so everyone would be at the tool shed, get all the tools and either walk to the work site or take a tap tap there; work ‘til 11:30, 11:30 pack up the tools, come back home, eat lunch, at 1:30 we’d go back out, work all day ‘til 4:30, 4:30 we’d come back home, shower, eat.  We do have bucket showers, but there’s only so much you can do with a five gallon bucket of water, and you know, you’re just going to get filthy the next day, so it’s like, what’s the point?

Rob:  Twelve days of dirty, grueling labor helping others and learning even more about yourself.

Billy:  I also learned that I don’t have any practical skills and the Haitian people are some of the most resourceful people I’ve ever met.  Like, they’re literally surviving on nothing and I just think that if that had happened to Americans, who are supposedly educated, I mean, we wouldn’t have a chance.  We would not have a chance.