Lending a Hand Halfway Around the World
A lot of good has transpired across the globe since MDC professors Stuart Williams and Diego Tibaquirá led students on an Honors College Salzburg Global Seminar to Austria in 2009. The annual MDC study abroad experience, designed to build students’ leadership skills and international awareness, inspired that year’s group to form MDC’s SAID organization, first transforming lives in Haiti and now in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
SAID, which stands for Students Aiding International Development, teams with specific international partners to accomplish concrete goals that have a direct, immediate impact.
In 2009, SAID held its All-Nighter for Haiti, with music, poetry readings, dancing, speakers and presentations. Attracting more than 1,400 participants, the event raised thousands of dollars to construct four tilapia farms in Haiti. In 2010, the All-Nighter raised a higher amount to help earthquake victims in Haiti.
“Besides the students’ incredible compassion for helping others, SAID demonstrates their discipline and ability to network and accomplish concrete missions,” Williams said.
This spring, SAID plans to extend its reach even further around the globe with its Project H.E.R. (Heal, Empower, Rebuild) Concert for Congo. Set for Women’s History Month in March, the H.E.R. Concert will raise money to build safe houses for rape victims, offering them long-term support from skilled counselors who help them rebuild their lives and learn job skills to empower both the women and their children.
SAID will work with the international organization HEAL Africa to accomplish this noble goal.
“Most people don’t know that 80 percent of the rapes in the world occur in the Congo, where rape is used as a weapon of the war,” said Emily Domínguez, one of SAID’s student leaders. “More than 6 million people have died, and 1.2 million have been displaced from their homes.”
SAID’s efforts worldwide exemplify the excellent outreach endeavors that form a vital cornerstone of the MDC educational experience. When SAID students presented their work at a recent MDC District Board of Trustees meeting, everyone in attendance was impressed.
“As an alumnus and a member of the MDC family for 30 years and a board member for 12, I must say that of all the truly remarkable work I have seen our students do, this is one of the most amazing projects,” said Armando J. Bucelo Jr., the vice chair of the board.
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