UW Tacoma students build Haiti earthquake reminder on campus

Jan 12, 2011

As people remember the earthquake that devastated Haiti last year, some Washington residents will get an up close look at the hardships survivors still face.  Today, anyone who walks through the middle of the UW Tacoma campus can see a refugee camp like those many Haitians live in.  

The demonstration is designed to be as realistic as possible.  Tents are made of makeshift materials including sticks and tarps.  Toilets are old, rusty buckets.  Holly Wolfe, a graduate student at UW Tacoma and organizer of the event, says the simulation needs to be authentic to have a deep impact on people.  She says she made a personal connection with people in Haiti when she went there.

"Looking into someone’s face and hearing their story, seeing them struggle is just something that stays with you.”

And that was before the earthquake.  She says her heart broke when it struck, so for the past year she’s been raising money to rebuild the country.  She’ll try to convince more people to donate during the campus simulation.  She says it’s not her top priority, though.

“The number one goal of the event is awareness," she says.  "We want everyone to have a visual reminder that there’s still a lot of need in Haiti and we just want to make sure that they know what the conditions are one year later.”

While it’ll likely be several more years before some of the real refugee camps in Haiti come down, the replica tents will be gone tomorrow.