What started out as a class assignment for Paul Montsion and Annie Hussain has turned into an initiative that has raised almost $1,000 for Haiti’s orphans — and they’re not stopping now.
“We worry about student loans but they don’t have food,” says Montsion, who just finished his first year at Carleton. “If you look at these kids, they have nothing.”
In the fall, Prof. Nick Milanovic assigned his first-year human rights class to start a non-governmental organization that tackles a human rights issue abroad.
During the winter, the students had the option of putting their plan into action without getting graded.
Montsion and Hussain worked with fellow students Alex Hercun, Carlucci-Hercun, Genevieve Colverson, Ellyse Gallant and Madeline Gibson and decided to focus their efforts to help orphans in Haiti. They named their NGO Learners4Life and brainstormed ideas about how best to help the Haiti-based Maison Fortune orphanage.
In January, when the earthquake hit Haiti, Hussain and Montsion knew there would be more orphans arriving from the Port-au-Prince area.
“We were going to focus on school supplies and education but after the earthquake we decided to have the money help them with anything,” says Hussain.
They say the earthquake taught them valuable lessons about the role NGOs play when disaster strikes.
Although the project started in the fall, Milanovic says he had hoped the group would continue their hard work.
“This started long before the earthquake. And long after, they still continue to be committed,” he adds.
To raise money, the group organized a bake sale in March that brought in almost $400. The remainder of the money was collected through promoting the issue across the Ottawa region.
Hussain says she would love to see Learners4Life develop into a youth-centred organization. The goal is to raise $10,000 for the orphanage and obtain tax status as an NGO by next year.
Milanovic, who lets his students create and run these NGOs on their own, says learning by doing is important for education.
“Students will actually remember their experience long after they’ve forgotten who I am or most of their courses,” he explains. “They’ll have a memory of doing something important. And hopefully they’ll leave a positive legacy.”