How you can help: Nursing student aids Liberian village

It is easy to focus on the bad news around the world these days. Egypt and Libya are in a state of turmoil, the oil in the gulf is still killing sea life, and Japan is facing a disaster that has resulted in more than 10,000 deaths. If you’re like me, sometimes it is hard to watch the news without feeling like our earth and its inhabitants are welcoming a new emergency each day. Though we are, there are still a lot of people working to make the world a better place. I don’t mean political figures or people working with non-profits necessarily. Average people with a lot of determination can make an impact, but not without hard work.

Claudia Iciarte is anything but average. She’s a nursing student here at Tech, but despite her busy schedule and workload, Iciarte is doing even more than studying every week. Scheduling an interview was a challenge, due to her lack of free time, but her life-changing project was an idea she had to carry out. You don’t need much time talking with Iciarte to see her dedication to her goals.

“It was hard to organize this and at the same time going nursing school,” Iciarte said, “but I believe that you don’t need to do something big to help people.”

You might remember Iciarte from an editorial in “The Oracle” last semester about her work in the impoverished African country of Liberia. For several weeks, she worked in the impoverished country as a volunteer in an AIDS clinic.

She was shocked at the things she discovered while living there. There were no paved roads, many people had no access to education or health care outside of the clinic, and people were living in unimaginable poverty.

After seeing the living conditions of the people of the village and the Firestone Medical Center (many of them children infected with the deadly AIDS virus or other terminal diseases), she decided to do something more to help them. She said she couldn’t just leave that place and put it out of her mind. She had to find another way to help these people.

Last semester, she started a project to collect clothing and toys here at Tech to send the children and their families. The Firestone Company uses a lot of Liberia’s natural rubber. Instead of just paying for the raw material, the company also decided to give the locals a medical facility (among other facilities they didn’t have before). Many Tech students donated needed items and their time to her cause.

This semester, she is focusing more on gathering non-perishable food items for the children, all of which will be delivered by her father on his next trip to Liberia with his job at Firestone. After Iciarte collects as much as she can to send back, those items will go directly to people in need.

This isn’t just an example of someone at Tech thinking globally and making a difference. This is also a call to students who think maybe they have no power in the world’s problems.

Of course, you’re busy. You’re a student (or faculty member), and maybe you don’t have a lot of time to spare or money to spend on a cause other than your late electric bill, but we all can do small things that when added together will make a real change in someone’s life.

A specific time and date for the food drive is yet to be determined, however, when it is, there will be a note in the next edition of “The Oracle,” as well as some flyers on campus. If you would like to donate time to the project, please feel free to contact Iciarte at clau_lok999@gmail.com.