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BUILDING HOPE: Students Head To Haiti

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A group of Iowa high school students are headed to another country this summer with the goal of making a difference.

As you probably remember, an earthquake hit Haiti, near the capital Port Au Prince in January 2010. More than 300,000 people died in the earthquake and many more became homeless. Iowa Future Farmers of America, or FFA, students are headed to Haiti this summer to help.

A recent break from class at Audubon High School seems like any FFA meeting.  Advisor Brittany Elmquist asks, "Who has talked to the Lion's Club?"

They’re planning a fundraiser for the next project. Elmquist says, "I think we need to have another parent meeting to make sure everything is good for immunizations."

This next project requires updated immunizations and passports. The students are headed to Haiti. Sophomore Drew Christensen says, "It is an organization taking kids to Haiti through Global Compassion's Network."

Christensen got the idea to go to Haiti last year, when he saw another Iowa chapter's booth at the state FFA convention. Christensen says, "The earthquake really got me interested." This June, six FFA students from Audubon High School will make an eight day trip to the Village of Hope in Haiti. They’ll join smaller groups from around the state.

They'll build what’s called Safe-T homes designed by Iowa grain bin maker Sukup Manufacturing.

Sophomore Cliff Nelson says, "You can house 10 Haitians in it. They'll move into them, then they'll learn how to grow crops and animals and then they will go out and they will move out into the community and they'll start all over with another family."

The students say the homes will provide more than just shelter. Nelson says, showing a model of the home, "This part of the bin is the ballast part. It helps the bin withstand up to 70 mph winds. The soil Haitians will put in it helps draw heat out of the bins, so it stays cooler in the summer. It can also be used as a garden area for help growing their crops."

The students will build two while they're in Haiti. They'll also teach survival skills. Senior Sam Dreher says, "We're going to teach them how to plant a garden, take care of animals like goats and chickens, and we're going to teach them waste management and food safety, so they can learn how to take care of themselves."

The students say it will be an eye opening experience, as they make the trip of a lifetime to help others.

The students will also visit an orphanage. Junior Mary Wede says, "We're really excited. We'll get the opportunity to play with them and just see what life is like there, since we take a lot of things for granted here."

The trip will cost $12,000 for the six students, their principal and his wife. They're planning a pancake breakfast and donkey basketball game to help cover costs. It's Sunday, March 17th at the high school, starting at 10:30 a.m.