Jodi Sagorin, a 22-year-old pre-med student, has been working at the Partners in Development Clinic in Haiti, which helps people living in extreme poverty. Some of the young people she met there had to drop out of nursing school because of costs, so she started a campaign to allow the students to continue their education and get the medical careers of their dreams.
In Haiti, tuition for one semester runs about $180, and even just pitching in a small amount can help. MTV Act wanted to learn more about how people can get involved, so we spoke to Jodi about her campaign, the complex situation in Haiti and how you can join her in aiding Partners in Development.
ACT: Can you tell us the back story of your campaign?
JODI: I work in Haiti as part of a medical team at the Partners in Development Clinic in Blanchard, Haiti. The PID Clinic serves those living in extreme poverty, including those living in two tent cities. Patients seeking medical care line up all day to see us. A typical day in the clinic might include treating a baby with typhoid or a grandpa with hypertension.
Isabelle, one of the lab technicians working at the clinic, mentioned that she was trying to go to nursing school but couldn't afford her tuition. PID asked Dr. Siskind — a physician in Irvine, California, who has worked in Haiti with them six times — if he’d be interested in sponsoring her education. To me, sponsoring a college degree sounds like a crazy endeavor, until I realized that in Haiti, tuition for one semester only costs $180!
ACT: How can people help? If they can’t donate, are there other ways they can aid you in your mission?
JODI: It is so simple and easy to help get these students through school. Donating even a few bucks towards the scholarship fund can go further than most people think. Every penny counts, and the more people who pitch in, the faster we can reach the goal and send over the tuition checks!
Sharing it on your social networks, posting a link, and telling your friends is all so helpful in spreading the word.
ACT: You’re working to fund healthcare education for five Haitian students. After these students have their education funded, do you plan to help more Haitian students afford school? Is this something you see doing continuously?
JODI: I have worked with tons of nonprofits on some rad projects and have always dreamed of starting my own. If this campaign is a success, I would love to continue to sponsor students’ healthcare higher education in Haiti and beyond.
I feel like I’ve had such great opportunities and am a pre-med student myself. Being able to empower other students on their path to treating patients and improving healthcare is definitely the dream!
JODI: Haiti is a fascinating place. I have seen a tremendous wave of improvement in some areas. Some places are completely rebuilt and look great while others look like the damage was done yesterday. Progress is a process, but I’m full of hope and very excited about the future.
I think the best way MTV Act readers can get involved is to pick an organization that is reputable, doing great work, and who is innovative in their approach to help them in their mission. Learn about the issues you care about. Choose to use your voice for a cause. You can definitely make a difference!
ACT: How do you have time to manage school, extracurricular activities, and your campaign?
JODI: Managing extracurriculars, school, and nonprofit work is a beast. I am a non-traditional student and up until recently actually took off almost every other semester to work on nonprofit projects and travel. During my off semesters I’ve found myself working in India, skydiving, surfing, riding a camel in Israel, and now working on this campaign before school starts up again. It has been quite a ride, and I thank my lucky stars every day for these moments and the opportunity to experience adventure and making a dent in issues I’m passionate about.
The day I figure out how to juggle it all, I’ll let you know! For now it’s a delicate balancing act I’m desperately trying to master.
ACT: How can people get involved with Partners in Development?
JODI: Partners in Development has been working in Haiti for several decades. They do everything from running a busy health clinic, to child sponsorship, home building, and now a higher education program!
Partners In Development strives to help the extreme poor attain independence and whole life improvement. PID combines a variety of programs in order to achieve community transformation in places where hope is often lost in the cycle of poverty.
I sponsor a little girl named Kattyana St. Juste through their program and get to hang out with her while I’m in Blanchard, which has been incredibly rewarding. If you want even more involvement, they even host trips to work on construction in the area! To find out more, check out their website.