MOREHOUSE MAGAZINE by jolinmilioncherie



MOREHOUSE MAGAZINE   34   S P R I N G / S U M M E R   2 0 1 0

          By George W. Williams IV ’10
          Additional reporting by Carl Ringgold
          Photography by Jacques Pape ’10

           t 4:53 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010, senior Jacques Pape received a life-
            changing phone call as he walked into his Atlanta apartment.
                 Jacques, you almost lost your mother,” the voice on the other
               end of the phone said. It was Pape’s mother calling from her sis-
ter’s hospital bedside in Haiti seconds after the unprecedented 7.0 magnitude
earthquake struck just 16 miles west of Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital.
   “The whole notion of an earthquake hitting Haiti was hard to grasp,” said
Pape, who is from Haiti and came to the United States to attend Morehouse.
   Pape remembers spending the subsequent few hours trying to get in contact
with his uncle, older brothers and other family members. He was desperate to
know whether his family was safe. >

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Morehouse students join relief efforts in Haiti. Left to right: Jacques Pape, Regis DeVeaux, Stevon Parris, Malcolm Clyburn, Ezekiel Phillips, David Wall Rice ’95, Nasser
Muhammad, Paul Underwood, Le Mel Lindsey and Rodrigus Graham

     It would have made perfect sense for                       flew to the distressed island. They took             The organization makes weekly mis-
Pape to feel immensely lonely while                             the most essential donated goods (med-               sions to Haiti, sending groups of volun-
much of his closest family members were                         ical supplies, water and tents), and what            teers to work in make-shift hospitals
trapped in the devastation of the earth-                        couldn’t be taken was donated to the                 and clinics in an effort to ease the high
quake’s aftermath. But members of the                           Salvation Army to distribute through its             demand for desperately needed health-
Morehouse community quickly began to                            own Haitian relief efforts.                          care services. The organization hopes to
reach out to Jacques as the natural disas-                           “I was going down there to see what             open and operate a hospital with what
ter began to seize the world’s attention.                       happened. That’s the place where I grew              would be only the second trauma center
     Around 8 o’clock that evening, Pape                        up, but to other people [the disaster] was           in the country.
received a voice message from                                   just a picture,” Pape explained of his

Gwendolyn Wade, director of Student                             impetus to venture into the heart of the
Abroad and International Student                                catastrophe.                                                             hile many students
Services. “She said, ‘If you need anything,                          “As we approached Port-au-Prince,                                  spent their spring break
don’t hesitate to ask.’                                         the only lights that were on were navy                                on beautiful beaches rid-
“And of course I asked,” Pape recalled.                         ships...everything else was pitch black.”                            ing jet skis and indulging
     With Wade’s administrative support                              Pape arrived with a group of volun-             in other leisure activities, Pape—not
and guidance, Pape put together a                               teers from Hospitals for Humanity, a                 entirely satisfied with his already
Morehouse College Haitian Relief Fund                           non-profit organization that seeks to                impressive humanitarian efforts—and
and initiative in less than 24 hours.                           decrease barriers in healthcare access in            fellow senior Ezekiel Phillips led a small
Through the official fund, members of                           some of the world’s most impoverished                group of Morehouse students on a mis-
the Morehouse community were given                              countries. Upon their arrival, the 50                sion trip to give out food, water and
the opportunity to raise funds donated                          Hospitals for Humanity volunteers were               clothing to people throughout the Port-
directly to non-profit organizations that                       informed that their lodging and food                 au-Prince region.
were active in the relief efforts.                              arrangements for their five-day undertak-                 “When everything happened, I was
     Just seven days after the quake shook                      ing were through family and friends.                 the only student in the AUC who went to
Haiti, Pape and young alumnus Roosevelt                              Along with Pape, the volunteers                 Haiti,” Pape said. “Yet one voice was only
Ducelus ’08 (also a native of Haiti)                            found themselves filling a crucial void              so strong. By bringing Morehouse students
stocked their cars with as many donated                         and taking over night shifts at General              to Haiti, they serve as ambassadors for not
supplies as they could and drove from                           Hospital, Port-au-Prince’s main hospital,            just Morehouse and the AUC, but the U.S.
Atlanta to Miami. From there they                               for two nights. Pape now serves as a                 in general because not many Americans
boarded a privately charted plane and                           coordinator for Hospitals for Humanity.              have been able to go down there.”
MOREHOUSE MAGAZINE   36   S P R I N G / S U M M E R   2 0 1 0
Jacques Pape (standing in middle) helps with building a roof.                                             David Wall Rice ’95, assistant professor of psychology,
                                                                                                          stands in front of a crumbling building in Haiti.

     In one day, the group of student vol-            dents we should focus our attention on                foundation to have. “It would be in the inter-
unteers laid the foundation for 150 homes             building a school,” Pape said.                        est of redeeming our status of being the first
in a small Port-Au-Prince province that                    The cost for the first school the group          independent black nation, not the poorest.”
hadn’t been touched by any international              will attempt to build is a mere $7,500 U.S.                 Only time will tell if the relief efforts
organization up to that point.                        dollars, which includes not just the expense          in Haiti will create a better nation for the
     “Our focus wasn’t on one particular              of the school building, but also the salaries         people there.
cause,” Pape said. “We wanted to do                   of the school’s teachers for one year.                      As he looks toward Haiti’s future, Pape
everything that our expertise could allow.”                                                                 feels suspended between optimism and a

     During the week, the Morehouse                                                                         stark reality. He laments the tumultuous and
group would have debriefings about their                   n the months since the earthquake, Pape          deadly political climate that has plagued Haiti
days’ work and experiences. Phillips, who                  feels few improvements have been made.           for most of his life.
captured the entire trip on film, said the                     “Nothing has improved yet because                  “My mom tells me of the Haiti she
trip truly changed his life. For eight days                people are constantly being moved                knew, where she could play with friends
he filmed the group’s activities and every-           around without any long-term sustainable              and ride her bike in the streets. That’s not
thing it entailed.                                    solutions being found,” he said.                      how I grew up,” said Pape. “It’s up to my
     “There was one moment in Haiti                         Although many countries responded               generation to stand up and take a stand
that I’ll never forget,” Phillips said. “When         to appeals for humanitarian aid by pledg-             for the future of Haiti. Hopefully, we’ll be
we pulled to the side of the road to give             ing funds and dispatching rescue and med-             able to restore it to where it can fulfill its
water to children in a village, we had                ical teams, Pape said more must be done.              name as the pearl of the Caribbean.” ■
enough water for all the children who                       “The Haitian government is an obsta-
were present. Yet they still fought over the          cle because multimillion dollar projects              Editor’s Note: A special fund has been set up
bottles as if those bottles would be the              can’t be achieved [due to] the corruption,”           for the Morehouse community and support-
last ones they would see in a long time.”             he said. “On a smaller level, the people              ers to make financial donations. Go to
     It was during one of these debriefings           aren’t doing any better.                    
that Pape was inspired to start his own                     “I want people to see that they don’t have      nity/SSLPage.aspx?pid=344 and click on
nonprofit organization. He named it in                to rely on the government for basic supplies,”        the menu to select Morehouse College
honor of his father – Foundation Eric                 Pape said about the impact he wants his               Haitian Relief Fund.
Pape. The goal of the organization is to
facilitate the building of sustainable com-
munities in Haiti.                                              View Ezekiel Phillips’ video presentation “Haiti: The Wake Up Call (3:33)l”
                                                                         on YouTube at
     “We came to a consensus that as stu-
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