Haiti quake shakes Queen’s

Queen’s staff member leaving for Haiti relief efforts on Jan. 26

Tammy Babcock, pictured above in her most recent trip to Haiti, has been to the country once every two months since 2007.
Tammy Babcock, pictured above in her most recent trip to Haiti, has been to the country once every two months since 2007.

Tammy Babcock, a security supervisor at Queen’s, is taking leave from work the next few weeks.

But instead of a vacation, she’s leaving Kingston to go to Haiti on Jan. 26 to help with relief efforts.

On Jan. 12 Haiti was struck by an earthquake about 25 km west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The Red Cross estimates the earthquake affected three million people.

“We’re heading toward Cité Soleil and we’ll go until we run out of steam or supplies,” Babcock said.

Babcock said she has been visiting Cité Soleil, a five-square km slum in Port-au-Prince with a population of 500,000, every two months for the last two years to do humanitarian aid. She started work in Haiti because the country is in dire need of assistance and is in the western hemisphere so it’s not too far away.

“I’m a humanitarian so it’s a matter of choosing a country to help,” she said. “After working in the country for a year I decided to start Help Tammy Help Haiti.”

Help Tammy Help Haiti is a charity started by Babcock in 2008 that works to improve the living conditions of the people of Cité Soleil.

“With the earthquake everybody’s interested in Haiti now,” she said.

Babcock said the charity’s first project was a water tower in Cité Soleil in July 2009, but that other projects, including a medical clinic, will have to be put on hold until after the crisis has subsided.

“We were supposed to do ground breaking [for the medical clinic] this trip but that’s going to have to be postponed,” she said. “The UN was supposed to fund a portion, $25,000 American, but we will be losing that.”

Babcock said right now, the focus needs to be on relief work.

“It’s the clean up,” she said, adding that her team will be focusing on first-aid and medical support.

“The idea is there are a lot of doctors going down, but a lot of people don’t require a doctor, so [by helping with basic medicine and first-aid] we can keep the doctors free for more serious cases.”

Help Tammy Help Haiti is funded by donations and fundraising events. On Jan. 18, Help Tammy Help Haiti held an event at Clover Leaf Bowling Lanes that raised over $7,000.

“One hundred per cent of the donation goes straight to Haiti. We pay for our own plane tickets and accommodation out of our own pockets,” Babcock said, adding that dollars raised mostly go towards tools, supplies and medication.

“Haiti is a difficult country to maneuver through on a normal day. Last trip in November we were almost kidnapped,” she said. “With the earthquake and the prison collapsing it’s not a case where I’ll take every volunteer offering to go.” Babcock said students can help through efforts on campus, such as the African Caribbean Student Association coin drive happening across campus for the next month and the Synergy fashion show at Stages on Jan. 29, which plan to donate their profits to Help Tammy Help Haiti.

“Since I work at Queen’s, having the support of the students is absolutely wonderful.”

On Jan. 14 Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Society (ASUS) Assembly approved a $500 donation from their budget surplus. They will decide today whether to donate the money to the Red Cross or a local Haitian charity.

The Commerce Society held a 50/50 draw this week to raise money for earthquake relief.

Last night, AMS Assembly voted to not approve a $0.10 donation for Haiti earthquake relief for each vote cast in the AMS executive elections.

AMS Commissioner of Internal Affairs Lucas Anderson said although he agreed with the sentiment behind the motion, he didn’t think it was an appropriate action to coincide with AMS elections next month.

“AMS elections by nature stand alone so alternative motives may disclude students regardless of how good the intentions may be,” he said.

The motion was proposed by AMS Team CHR presidential candidate Safiah Chowdhury and seconded by Team PNF presidential candidate Mitch Piper.

The majority of Assembly voted down the motion.

In past years, students have been given a coupon for a free Common Ground coffee when they cast their vote. Since there will be no similar incentive this year, the $0.10 donation was proposed to take its place.

“I was given the heads-up that it probably wouldn’t be feasible,” Chowdhury said. “They did raise concern ... originally but we did think it was important to go through with it anyway as a show of solidarity with Haiti and a show of goodwill between us.”

“Because the money wouldn’t be coming out of student pockets I don’t believe it would be undemocratic,” she said. “It would be the AMS showing a commitment to relief.”

Piper said he believes the proposed motion would have been a good way to give back to a group of people in need.

“It was shut down and we did appreciate and recognize the comments made by the Assembly and their thoughts on keeping the election free of connections to anything,” he said.

Rector Leora Jackson introduced a motion to put a question on the winter referendum to establish a $1 opt-outable fee to contribute to Haiti relief efforts.

“The motion was a response to the defeat of the earlier motion and I thought that it was important to still make some sort of contribution to the efforts,” she said.

Jackson’s motion was withdrawn but will be proposed again at the AMS Annual General Meeting on Mar. 23.

—With files from Gloria Er-Chua and Holly Tousignant

For information on how to donate to Babcock’s foundation, visit helptammyhelphaiti.com.

Help Haiti

The Grad Club Karaoke Mixer
Friday Jan. 29
Doors open at 8
The Grad Club, 162 Barrie St.
Free for grad students or $5
Admissions and donations will be going towards Doctors without boarders Haitian Relief Fund

Neon: Queen’s Synergy fashion show
Friday Jan. 29
Doors open at 8 p.m.
Stages Nightclub, 390 Princess St.
Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door
All proceeds donated to Help Tammy
Help Haiti

Queen’s Track & Field Presents: Saturday Alfie’s
Saturday Jan. 23
Doors open at 9 p.m.
Alfie’s Nightclub
$5 cover
All proceeds will go to the Haitian earthquake relief effort

Donate to ShelterBox
Friday Jan. 22
Display at the corner of Union St. and University Ave.
Proceed will go to purchasing and delivering ShelterBoxes. Each ShelterBox contains enough supplies to house a family of 10 for a year.

African Caribbean Student Association coin drive
Began Wednesday Jan. 20 and will continue for the next month
Across campus (including Queen’s Centre, Mac-Corry and Bio-Sciences)
Proceeds will go to Help Tammy Help Haiti

Elias Da Silva Powell

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