Share Esperanza gives back

share-esperanza-umassd-edu
By Michaella Lesieur, Staff Writer

Back in January when most people spent their time on vacation and making new year’s resolutions to make their own lives better, one UMass Dartmouth organization traveled to La Plaine, Haiti to help those that are in need.

Share Esperanza, one of the many organizations provided by UMass Dartmouth, not only collected but delivered 2,096 pounds of supplies which included, personal care packages, food, water, school supplies and clothing to Haiti.

Most notable, the organization “… is dedicated to the improvement of the educational system in third-world countries. We address the needs of economic and socially forgotten students by creating a system and academic curriculum that will allow these students to develop into peaceful and contributing citizens,” said senior Nataki DeGraffenreid, public relations position, and crime and justice major.

The project was in collaboration with RAW Haiti, a non-profit organization, which created their first ever soccer tournament for the children of Port-Au-Prince. This event took place on January 14, 2017.

Ausubel Pichardo the organization’s advisor found the trip to be a reward in itself.  “The most rewarding aspect of the trip was the human interactions with the people of Haiti. This was vital because Haiti is constantly portrayed as a failed and hopeless state in our hemisphere,” said Pichardo.

“It is not a lie to say that the nation has been plagued by natural disasters, corruption and despotism, but Haiti is home of a very dynamic culture that cherishes joy in the little gifts of life.”

The trip was also seen as an eye opener. “It was very important for us, as a team, to be exposed to the experience and to educate ourselves about the daily inequalities that other people face,” said Pichardo.

From January 10 through the 17, the project lasted over seven days and included five team members from UMass Dartmouth and has been running for seven years.

Personal stories is what inspires many to take charge in becoming the change. “My first humanitarian service trip was seven years ago, in the emergency of a hospital in my homeland, the Dominican Republic,” said Pichardo.

“During that time, I also served during the earthquake that took place in Haiti. After those events and more volunteering experience, I co-founded Share Esperanza in 2013 with my best friend Gustavo Franco Reynoso, who is still a student at UMD.”

Each of them were able to sponsor a team as well. “We each also got to sponsor a team at the Soccer Tournament,” said DeGraffenreid. “We passed out backpacks, awards and trophies to the kids.”

The soccer tournament was something the group will never forget. “I think the rewarding aspect of the trip was the Soccer Tournament which we had put on for the kids,” said DeGraffenreid.

“…Half of the kids were from orphanages in Haiti, it was an amazing experience because we got to engage with the kids, and learn a little bit about them.”

It is all about opportunity according to the creator. “We wanted to create an organization that allows opportunity for people like us, and others living in less privileged communities, folks whose societies do not offer quality education and healthcare,” said Pichardo. “That said, our work has been felt in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nigeria, New Bedford and Mali.”

The trips in general have left a series of mixed emotion and a mark he will never forget.

“Saying that I have a ‘best’ memory might not be the best term for my case. The work we have been performing all these years has been filled with sacrifices, setbacks, tears of pain, joy and laughs,” said Pichardo.

All in all, volunteers agreed that that being able to give back and service others really makes all the difference.

“Serving others so they can have a beautiful life is my way of saying thank you for giving me a reason to live and even die for,” said Pichardo. “Therefore, these memories don’t allow me to sit and find comfort in the privileges found in first world nations, and for that I am glad.”

Visiting schools in Haiti was another experience in itself. “Another part of the trip that was rewarding was when we visited the two schools in Haiti. One in Canaan, and the other Lilavois,” said DeGraffenreid.

“We all had an amazing time because we were able to put some smiles on the kids’ faces, we were able to see the kids engage and interact in their education and they also presented us with a nice welcome to their school…”

Haiti was very grateful for all that was received and the warm smiles were what said it best. “The people of Haiti were very polite and welcoming to us. The donations were well received, especially since the need is great for a place like Haiti,” said Pichardo. “It is always humbling to see how grateful they are with things that for us might seem so small, but for them it means a whole world.”

The soccer tournament was something the group will never forget. “I think the rewarding aspect of the trip was the Soccer Tournament which we had put on for the kids,” said DeGraffenreid. “… half of the kids were from orphanages in Haiti, it was an amazing experience because we got to engage with the kids, and learn a little bit about them.”

It is all about opportunity according to the creator. “We wanted to create an organization that allows opportunity for people like us, and others living in less privileged communities, folks whose societies do not offer quality education and healthcare,” said Pichardo. “That said, our work has been felt in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nigeria, New Bedford and Mali.”

The trips in general have left a series of mixed emotion and a mark she will never forget.

“Saying that I have a ‘best’ memory might not be the best term for my case. The work we have been performing all these years has been filled with sacrifices, setbacks, tears of pain, joy and laughs,” said Pichardo.

Being able to give back and service others really makes all the difference. “Serving others so they can have a beautiful life is my way of saying thank you for giving me a reason to live and even die for,” said Pichardo. “Therefore, these memories don’t allow me to sit and find comfort in the privileges found in first world nations, and for that I am glad.”

Visiting schools in Haiti was another experience in itself. “Another part of trip that was rewarding was when we visited the two schools in Haiti. One in Canaan, and the other Lilavois,” said DeGraffenreid. “We all had an amazing time because we were able to put some smiles on the kids’ faces, we were able to see the kids engage and interact in their education and they also presented us with a nice welcome to their school…”

Haiti was very grateful for all that was received and the warm smiles were what said it best.

“The people of Haiti were very polite and welcoming to us. The donations were well received, especially since the need is great for a place like Haiti,” said Pichardo.

“It is always humbling to see how grateful they are with things that for us might seem so small, but for them it means a whole world.”

To join or donate to Share Esperanza, please contact Ausubel Pichardo  or visit their page on MyOrgs.

Photo Courtesy: umassd.edu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.