Students able to help needy

How many of us have clothes in our closet that don’t fit anymore or still have T- shirts from clubs we joined in high school? I know I have a lot of stuff I don’t need anymore. One Tech student is thinking globally and decided to collect items to send to children at a hospital in Liberia, one of the most impoverished countries in Africa.Claudia Iciarte is a nursing major whose passion for helping others led her to Liberia last year for 10 weeks of volunteering at the hospital where she plans to send the supplies along with toys and, most importantly, food.

It may seem like a small change for us to get rid of one shirt or pair of gym shoes, but to a child who has never had anything new, it means a world of difference.

“It’s amazing how a little thing can change the face of a child,” Iciarte said.

She went on to tell me a story about a seven-year-old whose mother died giving birth and was HIV positive.

“He was crying,” she said. “He has lived at the hospital since he was born with no family left to love him. I gave him a bear by my mother’s advice, and he smiled at me immediately. I don’t even know if this child has survived.”

Many of the children were orphaned or suffering from terminal illnesses. After living in Liberia and seeing the conditions in which the people live, Iciarte couldn’t come back here and not help them in some way.

The American tire company Firestone established Firestone Medical Center and several other facilities for the people of Liberia. Though the hospital is a step-up from having no medical facility, the resources are scarce and there is little funding for new equipment or supplies.

Much of the rubber used in Firestone’s products comes from this part of Africa. Instead of Firestone paying high taxes, the company decided to serve the people suffering from diseases in the area. Most of the country’s income is from Firestone’s use of rubber resources, and the decision to build usable facilities to villagers is a great way for a corporation to give back to a place that contributes to their profits.

Iciarte also collected books, toys, clothing and other supplies last year for the same area. However, this year her goal is to send more food. According to her, a large bag of rice could sustain an orphanage for a week or more. (www.traveltalktours.com)

This is a cause worthy of your support, and with Iciarte organizing donations, you can easily help. As a college student, I understand that money gets tight at times, but you don’t have to buy anything to help. You can spread the word or donate something you never use. Our most valuable resource is our voice, which is free.

Crayons, pencils, shoes, toys, new or lightly used books or clothes are all accepted. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, contact Claudia Iciarte at ceiciarte21@tntech.edu.