It was an earth-shattering rumble felt around the world.
On Jan. 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the capital city of Haiti, and the world watched in awe as journalists flooded the country and delivered images of the devastation, destruction and desperation.
While some watched, others sprang into action.
University of Florida student and Haiti-native, Sky Georges, could not sit back and be an on-looker of all the suffering.
In the two years leading up to the quake, Georges had already gone on several mission trips to his home country. When tragedy struck, he knew it was time to step up his efforts.
The day after the earthquake many people were still recovering from the shock, but UF’s students were ready to respond. Georges, a fourth year criminology major, attended a gathering of UF students representing various organizations. Their goal was to find a way to help not only the people in Haiti, but also the grieving Haitians who are part of the Gator Nation.
Gators United for Haiti was born.
“After a lot of discussion we thought that a united effort would be the best way to reach out to the student body and help the people of Haiti,” Georges, the Gator United for Haiti president, said.
With the goal of raising $50,000 to donate to various charities, the group set out to work hosting fundraisers, tabling around campus, finding donors and collecting money at UF-sponsored events.
Now, only a few weeks after the one year anniversary of the quake, Georges was happy to announce that Gators United for Haiti has far exceeded their goal.
Thanks to the University Athletic Association which matched the money raised by Gator United for Haiti, the group collected over $92,000. The money was donated to various charities such as the American Red Cross, Yele Haiti and Partners in Health, an organization working to build a teaching hospital in Haiti that will provide the people with medical education, resources and new technology.
“When we were looking for organizations to donate to, we wanted to make sure that the money would get to the Haitian people, and I think we did a pretty good job with that,” Georges said.
Georges and Gators United for Haiti may have reached their first goal, but they are not stopping there. They want to continue their work to help a nation that has become so near and dear to their hearts.
“Now we’re just trying to figure out how to move forward and how to use Gators United for Haiti as a platform because helping Haiti is an ongoing thing,” Georges said.
Although Georges wants to continue helping Haiti, he also wants to see the club expand. His heart goes out to all people suffering around the world.
“I feel in the core of my being if something like [the earthquake] were to happen anywhere, my reaction would be the same,” Georges said. “I would be disappointed in myself if it wasn’t because I want to be someone who knows how to respond to the needs of our time wherever they may be.”
Members of Gators United for Haiti are still deciding in what direction the group will go in the future, but many of them, including Georges, want to create an organization that UF students can turn to in the future when tragedies strike worldwide.
“It would be a resource for students to respond to different causes… Personally I would love to see something like that at UF,” Georges said.
Georges’ charity work, especially with Gators United for Haiti, has helped shaped his life goals. He plans to continue helping people in need.
“I am open to the possibilities anywhere in the world,” he said. “I would go to a place I’ve never heard of if the opportunity presented itself and if I knew I’d be doing something beneficial to help in any way I could.”
He wants to work in developing nations to provide resources, especially education, to the people living there. Georges is grateful for the opportunities he has had in life and wants to share that with others.
“Living in the U.S. , our ability to dream and for those dreams to become a reality if we work hard is something that we take for granted because that’s not true for a lot of people around the world. They can dream all they want but without the education, the possibility that their dreams become a reality is close to none,” Georges said.
“I want to help those people wherever they may be.”