Since the magnitude 7.0 earthquake leveled much of Haiti, students on both the River Campus and the Eastman School of Music have been collaborating to help ease the burden on the Haitians.

Many groups from both campuses, including the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, the Newman Catholic Community, Eastman ensembles, various religious groups and others have all stepped forward to raise money.

One of the major relief initiatives was taken on by Eastman graduate students Emeric Viani and Jordan Hayes. Viani and Hayes have organized a benefit concert, entitled ‘Harmony for Haiti,’ to raise money for the cause.

The concert, which will be at 8 p.m. tonight in Kilbourn Hall, will feature Gamelan Lila Muni – an ensemble that plays unique Indonesian music – as well as several of Eastman’s other ensembles and The YellowJackets, one of the a cappella groups on the River Campus.

Entrance to the concert costs $10, and all proceeds will go directly to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to provide needed resources to the victims of the earthquake.
‘With a tragedy of this scale, the natural inclination for everyone is to try and do something to give back and help those who are in dire need of assistance,’ Viani said.
Viani also emphasized that the pool of excellent musicians at Eastman, who were willing to lend their talents to the cause, made the concert possible.

‘We aren’t celebrities, but we do go to a school in a unique environment,’ he said.
Eastman graduate and current professor at Oklahoma Baptist University Dr. Louima Lilite will be a focal point of the show. Lilite, who is a native of Haiti, was just four hours north of the epicenter of the quake when it hit.

‘News of loved ones who have passed on, beloved buildings and works of art that have crumbled, and an uncertainty about the future became the topic of each conversation,’ Lilite said, describing the physical and emotional devastation.

Lilite, a highly praised tenor, will return to Eastman not only to tell his story, but also to perform as a part of the concert.

‘I was taught at Eastman that ‘hellip; the pursuit of musical excellence encompasses all that makes us human and one with the world,’ he said.

‘Harmony for Haiti’ is by no means the only relief effort going on at UR. NROTC is also getting involved, as midshipmen in the University’s battalion have been taking up funding toward the cause.

According to UR Battalion Commander and senior Jessica Ryan, the initiative started with the battalion raising money for the Red Cross’s Haiti relief program. As word of the NROTC efforts spread, donations from the community came into the picture. A private donation was made that will match the money raised by the battalion up to $1,000, and a local business also pledged to match the final amount raised.
Both the private donor and the local business are currently unrevealed, but with their help UR’s NROTC program alone could raise as much as $4,000.
‘One of our main goals for this semester was to become more involved with civic responsibility,’ Ryan said. ‘I think it’s very important to just look on your fellow man and do as much as you can to help them out, especially when something like this has happened.’

Other River Campus groups are doing their part as well. The Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, the Catholic Newman Community and Muslim Students’ Association have all set up tables in Wilson Commons where students can find out information about Haiti relief and ways they can help.

At the Catholic Newman Community’s table, students can also make donations directly from their flex spending account.

UR has also recently joined several other colleges nationwide in the Partners in Health relief initiative, entitled Stand With Haiti. This association allows people to make donations on behalf of their college over the Internet.

Individuals can also track their university’s progress and the total amount raised through the PIH Web site.

Currently, 24 colleges are involved in the initiative, which has raised over $225,000.
‘Seeing college students involved in this process brings a lot of joy to my heart,’ Lilite said. ‘This is the kind of solidarity that we need to survive in this world, whether Americans, Haitians, or otherwise.’

Fleming is a member of
the class of 2013

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