Malden High School’s Haitian Club is taking action to help Haiti in response to the recent Hurricane Matthew that caused destruction throughout the country. Paul Degenkolb, the advisor of the club, is collecting donations. He is collecting the donations for the village Matenwa, where Malden High School has a partner school: Matenwa Community Learning Center. Malden High School has raised money and donations for the school in the past, and especially with the recent Hurricane Matthew hitting Haiti, donations now are especially important.
On Saturday, Nov. 5, Degenkolb and the Haitian Club officially raised donations to send to Matenwa, since he visited in 2015, and developed a close relationship with the school. Degenkolb had a direct way to contact the school, making it easier for him to send the donations. School supplies, tarps, first aid kits, and basic toiletries were donated to the cause, and three shipping barrels were filled, and a fourth on its way to being filled.
“The school is the center of the community,” Degenkolb said about the school in Matenwa. Many families’ belongings were damaged in the hurricane, and so school supplies were needed by many families in the community. About 33 families lost their homes in the hurricane, and tarps are necessary to repair the homes. The hurricane made the children in the community miss about a week of school, and because the school is the center of the community, they wanted to get back to school, to get a sense of normalcy. As for the damage directly done to the school, there were few, and they were minor. The building “lost a couple of doors” but the building is still intact. The damage was really done to the families in the community.
The event that took place on Saturday got about 50 people who came to donate items, and it was mostly spread by “word of mouth,” and Degenkolb feels as though Saturday went well.
The donations are very important to the village of Matenwas because there is “a lot of unknown,” since “people don’t know how bad the damage was.” Communication with Haiti was tough after the hurricane, but Degenkolb kept in contact with the school and community through Facebook. Matenwa, Degenkolb notes, was not the work hit area in Haiti, but it is still concerning, since the village is out of most of the radars of the aid organizations.
Degenkolb sees these donations, and this connection to Matenwa CLC as important, as it reflects Malden High School’s global connections. Hurricane Matthew’s effects in Haiti affect Malden High School, since many students’ families are in Haiti, and MHS has a large Haitian population and community.