'Help Haiti Heal Meal' to support relief

'Help Haiti Heal Meal' to support relief
The people of Haiti are still feeling the effects of the earthquake which devastated their country last January. BCM will host a fundraising effort in the Fresh Food Company on Feb. 16. Photo courtesy of Save the Children

The Help Haiti Heal Meal will take place in the Fresh Food Company on Wed., Feb. 16, bringing a real taste of the island to Mercer’s students and offering them the chance to give to a country still sorely in need of help.  Photo courtesy of Save the Children

Students can sample authentic Haitian dishes from 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. as the Fresh Food Company provides the promised “Meal” aspect of the event. The “Heal” component, however, will be provided by Mercer’s student body. Students can swipe their Bear Cards to donate a $5 gift from their meal plans to the Fuller Center for Housing in Haiti. The money will be used to help rebuild Haitian houses after the devastating earthquake in January of 2010 leveled homes and forced people to take up residence in tent communities.

Chris Fuller, director of BCM, estimates that students will have to average two swipes per minute to reach their goal of $3000, which is enough to build a house through the Fuller Center.

The event has been planned by students who recently returned from Haiti as part of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries mission trip to the island nation. Although they left the island miles behind, the BCM students wanted to continue serving the Haitian people. They planned the Help Haiti Heal Meal as a day to raise funds and awareness for the current situation in Haiti. They planned the event to coincide with the day of Haiti’s Mardi Gras this year.

A table will be set up where students may ask questions about Haiti and about the work of the Fuller Center.

Students will also be able to talk to Caleb Antoine, a Mercer senior and native Haitian, to ask him questions about the island.

Antoine, a 32-year-old Christianity major, was born in Haiti but left at the age of 16 and moved to Miami. However, he still has close ties to Haiti: several of his family members still live there. Those ties keep him concerned with helping his homeland and enthusiastic about opportunities to engage others. When Fuller approached him about answering students’ questions at the Heal Meal, Antoine was happy to oblige.

“Whatever I can do, I will always try to raise money to help Haiti,” Antoine said. “And I’m always grateful to people who take their time to help a poor country. And I’m excited.”

Executive Sous Chef Joseph Smith is also enthused about the event and is personally developing the menu. Because he is of Jamaican descent, Smith is familiar with island dishes and is planning courses including rice, spicy meats and “tasso” gravy. Smith decided to revamp the menu after Antoine approached him with suggestions for recipes.

“I’m just excited that it’s going to be done,” Smith said. “I’m just excited to give back—to give to—someone.”

“I’m all for that kind of positive movement, and the healing of people,” he added.

Both Antoine and Smith hope that the event succeeds in its goal to raise money and to remind people that even a year after the earthquake, Haiti could still use the help of those who are willing to give it.

“For the sensitive people, I think we’re going to see a renewing of compassion as they are reminded,” Smith said. “It’s been a year. I expect the event to bring it back to the forefront.”

Students are highly encouraged to attend, to ask questions and, if they are so inclined, to donate to the Haitian Fuller Center.