Hernandez helps students in Haiti relief efforts

When Student Government (SG) President Cesar Hernandez’s non-profit organization raised money for a $10,000 grant, he knew just how it should be spent

The money will assist a USF student in rebuilding his grandmother’s home in Haiti that was destroyed by a crippling earthquake in January.

Melchisedek Jean, a junior majoring in biomedical sciences, will work alongside fellow students to construct the home and provide aid to the devastated nation through Generation Next, a USF student organization geared toward Haitian relief for the next generation.

Jean and 13 other organization members will fly to Haiti on Saturday, using money provided by the Lambda Theta Phi Foundation, a “registered not-for-profit organization … dedicated to the advancement of educational, civic, social, cultural and political leadership among Latino through scholarships, programs and seminars,” according to its website.

“(The Lambda Theta Phi Foundation) has something called Operation Haitian Relief where they collaborated with a fraternity,” said Hernandez, Southeast project director for the foundation. “They had a fundraiser and raised $10,000 … so, of course, I would say you should work with the student groups at USF.”

Initially, the organization raised about $5,000 through fundraisers like car washes and bake sales, Jean said. Funds were not allocated through SG, Hernandez said.

“They already had a set plan,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to be supporting them with additional funding. So I’m just supporting an additional initiative that they were doing.”

The 10-day trip will allow members to build the home, as well as donate food, clothing and tent supplies.

“They want to build a house for someone they know – someone who owns land in Haiti and not for someone on public property,” Jean said. “I was, of course, affected since I have family in Haiti.”

While there, the organization will also visit orphanages and offer school supplies to Haitian schools.

Jean said he is grateful for the extra money to help further their goal for Haitian relief.

“We are able to help feed 400 extra people,” Jean said. “In order for us to be able to be part of a global world and not on your own, we need to help other people.”

Hernandez said that if he can support any form of relief he would take advantage of it.

“We have students at USF who are going to go beyond just fundraising. We are actually going to go there and distribute ourselves. So they are going that extra leap,” Hernandez said. “It doesn’t matter what region of the world that you’re trying to impact. Obviously, I’m not of Haitian descent, but everybody is of the world.”