Feb 2, 2010

CIA plans to visit Haiti to offer relief

by Abby Armbruster

In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, Liberty’s Caribbeans In Action (CIA) is hoping to help Haiti. CIA, which began last semester, plans to spend their spring break in Haiti distributing distribute over-the-counter medications as well as clothing and Bibles.

“We were planning the trip before the event happened,” sophomore Jonathan Dimanche, a Haitian-American said. “It gave us more of a reason to go.”

CIA President Dominique Vidale-Plaza, a senior at Liberty and a native of Trinidad and Tobago, said she started the group as a source for the community amongst those who live in the Caribbean islands.

“When I came to Liberty, I did not know anyone from the Caribbean,” Vidale-Plaza said. Initially, there were four students who wanted to form the group not only for a sense of community but to provide humanitarian aid.

“We are here to create a network for Caribbean students and do humanitarian work,” Vidale-Plaza said.

Vidale-Plaza hopes to help restore Haiti by forming distribution centers and giving hot meals every night while the group is in Port-Au-Prince. CIA will also be working with an in-country organization called the Vermase Foundation, according to Dimanche.

Fundraising and donation ideas are the group’s main goal. Vidale-Plaza said the group will hold a dollar drive, dubbed “A Dollar For Haiti.” CIA will present videos in convocation for the dollar drive and hold a canned food drive in Liberty’s dorms.

The group also plans to put together a night of worship for Liberty students to attend. CIA hopes to have Haitian musicians play, with hors devours.

Donations will be taken at the event, which is set to take place on Feb. 26.

CIA is planning sponsorship letters and food fairs for fundraising as well, according to Vidale-Plaza. The food fairs—which were held in DeMoss during the week—were popular last semester, according to Vidale-Plaza, with some of the food running out after one hour.

Vidale-Plaza hopes to participate in a cultural parade with other Liberty international groups at the end of this semester.

Other groups in Lynchburg have been partnering with CIA as well. Randolph College has a Caribbean group and the two groups are planning on doing events such as a concert at The Drowsy Poet later in the semester.

Members of the CIA were surprised by the outpouring of support for the projects that the CIA is trying to do, according to Vidale-Plaza. On Thursday Jan. 28, Vidale-Plaza received an e-mail from a freshman student who was so moved to raise money for Haiti that she collected $27 for donations to help CIA’s Haitian relief efforts.

“A lot of what CIA is trying to do cannot be done without the support of Liberty,” Vidale-Plaza said.

Dimanche said he also sees support from the students.

“I’m surprised already to see the genuine care,” he said. “It is truly from the heart.”

Vidale-Plaza hopes that whatever CIA does for Haiti is sustainable and long-lasting.

Adviser and Business professor Paul Young said the group has what it takes to make an impact on the Caribbean islands.

“This is an amazing group of young people,” he said. “They inspire me more than I inspire them.”

With spring break quickly approaching, Vidale-Plaza said a lot of the preparation has to be done as soon as possible, since shipments of medicine and supplies will take longer to find its way to Haiti.

CIA still has six spots available for students who want to join the spring break missions trip. For more information or to volunteer with CIA, the group meets every Friday at 5 p.m. in DeMoss 1076.

Contact Abby Armbruster at

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