A group of four FIU students and one alumnus, who together form the non-governmental organization Hope2o International, traveled to Haiti last week to provide safe and clean drinking water to the people that need it most.
The Panthers – which include Ali Albassam, Nick Aquart, Donaldy Salvant, Jethro Decimus and Eric Alvarez ’13 – hand-delivered more than 50 LifeStraws – a personal, water filtration system that removes 99 percent of waterborne bacteria and parasites – to communities in Port-Au-Prince and Cap Haitien. They also delivered 50 LifeStraw Families – a larger unit for family use – and informational pamphlets written in Creole, clothes and toys.
During their time in Haiti, they also met with students in local schools to talk about leadership. “Haiti is this incredible island surrounded by water, yet it’s suffering greatly in this global water crisis,” said Albassam, founder of Hope2o International and an international relations and political science double-major. “We felt it would be silly to bring just one type of item when we have so many different technologies and tactics we can use to tackle the water problem. Our goal was to directly impact the people we came into contact with – the one’s who are in biggest need of help. Once you influence the people, you can influence legislation.”
While competing in the University of Pennsylvania Model United Nations Conference with the FIU Model UN team in 2013, Albassam learned some startling statistics on the global water crisis. When he returned home, he researched the issue further online. Albassam became inspired to make a real difference in the world and turned what could have been a “boring summer” into one that would forever impact his life.
He reached out to his fellow FIU Model UN teammate, Nick Aqaurt, and the duo started Hope2o International to provide people in developing nations access to clean, safe and filtered drinking water. From there, they reached out to other friends and classmates who all came together for this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Journals from Haiti
The team kept a journal of their time in Haiti and shared it with FIU News. What follows is a snapshot of each student’s journey told in their own words.