Make a Hands-On Difference for Haiti: Pa Za Pa

04/10/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There is an expression that is often used in Haiti: "pa za pa." It means "step by step."

That's how relief efforts are right now -- both in Haiti and here in the United States. Friends in Haiti say that it can take up to two hours to travel just half a mile. The airport continues to operate without electricity, phones, computers or radar while handling 200 flights per day. And here in the U.S., the Charlotte Tiger's relief effort was momentarily stymied by a few school "snow days" in Tennessee. But the work continues, "pa za pa."

Emily Dufty, a school counselor at Charlotte Middle School reports that last Thursday the 1st and 2nd period 8th grade classes at Charlotte Middle School spent time assembling health kits for Haiti. On Friday, the 6th grade students assembled 100 more kits. At the rate things are going, the Tigers will be able to make more than 442 UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) health kits -- which means they will make more than one per student than they had originally planned.

Other students across the country are joining in this effort. Elementary school children are making health kits with Holy Family Episcopal Church in Half Moon Bay, California. When asked why they want to help make these kits, one student replied, "I can pack it, and then someone else gets to unpack it and use it." As they discussed the items they were putting in the kits, these students said they wanted to recommend adding some toys to the standard contents. After all, play is a part of health!

The health kits these elementary and middle school students are making will add to the 23,000 kits that UMCOR has already sent to Haiti. UMCOR is continuing its urgent request for these kits because hundreds of thousands of kits will be needed to assist the people of Haiti. Families, community groups, schools and churches are encouraged to join in this "hands-on" effort.

To assemble UMCOR health kits go to

To work with UMCOR to assist the thousands of families in Louisiana and Mississippi who still need permanent housing after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita go to:
Mississippi: (click on "Katrina Recovery")

UMCOR has been in Haiti for years, and has committed to being there long-term. It is one of four charities that received an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy for its efforts in Haiti. It is also listed as a "Four Star Charity" (highest level) by Charity Navigator. To learn more go to

Meanwhile, we'll continue to follow the health kit story as it unfolds at Charlotte Middle School and with other students as they join in the world-wide effort to assist the people of Haiti "pa za pa."