12 CLU students to provide aid in Haiti

Club members will implement sustainable agriculture

Benn Lewenstein and Ryan Glatt are helping to organize the service trip to Haiti.

Photo: Megan Stone

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Dec. 16, 2013) A California Lutheran University club is crowdfunding a project to send 12 students to Haiti to help earthquake victims implement sustainable agriculture practices.

The students will leave for Haiti Dec. 27 and return Jan. 17. They are collaborating with a Hawaiian permaculture organization called Supersistence, a water filtration organization called Agua Inc. that uses plant-based biotechnology, and Hands of Light in Action, which is recruiting Haitian volunteers to help with the project.

The students will use efficient and accessible technologies, including aquaponics and water filtration systems, to help residents plant small-scale gardens in some of the poorest villages of Haiti. They also plan to organize sports camps and distribute medical supplies.

Ryan Glatt, an exercise science major from Simi Valley who tends bees in CLU’s sustainable education garden, decided at the beginning of the fall semester to organize the winter break service trip to help Haitians still struggling to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake. He established a club called SEEdS (Students for Enlightenment and the Education of Sustainability) for Haiti, and the members organized the project with help from adviser Megan Stone, CLU’s web media producer.

Associated Students of CLU Government provided $8,000 for project costs, including the purchase of gardening equipment and medical supplies and the hiring of local Haitian leaders to manage the community programs. The crowdfunding campaign has raised about $2,800 of the $15,000 additional funds needed.

The club members traveling to Haiti are Dani Bergazin, a biology major from San Juan Capistrano; Giselle Fernandez, a communication major from Oxnard; Berlin Galvan, a communication major from Torrance; Christina Geldert, a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Sparks, Nev.; Michael Hooten, an environmental science major from Summerland; Taylor Johnson, a communication major from Simi Valley; Kristen Prosser, an exercise science major from Camarillo; Aliyah Schneider, a geology major from Ventura; and Todd Whitmore, an exercise science major from Los Olivos. Communication professor Russell Stockard, an Oak Park resident who is an expert in Caribbean studies and has researched inequality issues in disaster survival, will join the students for five days.

For more information or to contribute to the project, go to https://rally.org/handsoflightinaction.