One in 10 children dies before the age of five in Haiti. 60 percent of all deaths in Haitian children are due to malnutrition. Those staggering statistics paint a picture of hopelessness for the future of Haiti's children. But one North Tama student is continuing the tradition of finding a cause she's passionate about, and doing something to help.
Soon-to-be senior Jamie Huntley has organized a pancake breakfast benefit this Sunday, June 16, to raise money for vitamins, which provide an invaluable boost to the health of Haiti's children.
Specifically, 100 percent of the proceeds from the event will go to the orphanage in Despinos, Haiti, which Huntley visited on a mission trip.
Jamie Huntley’s mission trip to Haiti was the inspiration behind the upcoming June 16 benefit. Here, Jamie is pictured along with some of the kids at the Despinos orphanage.
"Even though some of them were the same age as me, they look three years younger just because they don't have the proper nutrition," Huntley said. "I really wanted to do something about that, and I thought the breakfast would be a good benefit for that."
Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can stunt growth and cause an array of negative health consequences. All in all, there are about 120 children in need of nutrition at the Despinos orphanage.
Even before her trip to Haiti, Huntley knew she wanted to make a difference. Her mission, through the Heartland Vineyard Church in Cedar Falls, brought her to the island nation in March. That, coupled with her application for a scholarship during her junior year, led Huntley to think of ways to benefit the greater good.
"Even before I left for Haiti, I knew that I wanted to do something," Huntley said. "There was a scholarship opportunity for juniors called the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award. I had to propose a project that would benefit the community, world, etc."
"I though it was a great opportunity, so I applied," Huntley said. "Even though my project didn't make it through, I still wanted to do it. It wasn't about me anymore, it was about the kids."
While in Haiti, Huntley experience firsthand just how dire a situation exists in one of the poorest nations in the Western world. She described the people of Haiti as happy and nice, despite the tough circumstances they find themselves in.
"Once, when I was walking back to the team house from the orphanage, I came across some little girls who saw that I had paint on my hands," Huntley said. "They went to a well, pumped water into a bucket, and brought it to me to wash my hands. Even though they had nothing, they attended to me."
"I was really touched and moved by all my experiences in Haiti, and I knew the project I chose was right."
The benefit will be held at the Traer Fire Department this Sunday, June 16, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.