In December 2014, a group of fifteen students from the University of Akron traveled to Ouanaminthe, Haiti to a school called Institution Univers (IU). Their mission was to complete service projects while immersing themselves in the Haitian way of life. They painted, played with the kids, toured the medical clinic, and taught English club. They witnessed first hand both extreme poverty and beauty...the experience changed them; Haiti changed them. They all learned more about themselves in one week immersed in Haitian culture than they ever have at home. Unlike other student organizations, our founders have a piece of their hearts invested in Haiti.
They returned eager, passionate, and overwhelmingly motivated to help the Haitian students who had become their friends. Their first step was developing a student organization and working towards a fundraiser initiative that would bring a student from Ouanaminthe to the University of Akron. They also planned to replicate their experience in Haiti, making semi-annual trips possible for students interested in experiencing Haiti as a way to educate other and raise awareness about the troubles facing the nation. By expanding their small group of founders to a large organization of our willing peers, they were confident that we can help create a conversation that works to promote change in Haiti.
Since 2014, Zips 4 Haiti has successfully executed 8 trips, taking over 100 University of Akron students, as well as, students from Kent State University, Ohio University, and Northwestern University. Each participate gaining a unique and challenging experience that has sparked a changed within them all. We have continued to create partnerships with a local non-profit that has allowed us to complete our fundraising goal and bring a student from Haiti to Akron! We look forward to continuing our mission and sharing our experiences with those around us.