The third installment of the Volunteer and Community Service Center’s Social Justice Series was a presentation titled “Education, Poverty & Natural Disasters.” The presentation took place Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center Cinema. Lawrence seniors Oliver and Rebecca Zornow delivered the presentation, which focused on the relationship between Haiti’s educational system and the country’s overwhelming poverty levels. Four years ago, 17-year-old Oliver Zornow traveled to Haiti for an independent senior capstone project that was originally designed to deepen his understanding of Haiti’s poverty via observation and cultural immersion. From his research, Zornow discovered that 80 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, with 54 percent living in extreme poverty. He learned that half of the Haitian population could not read, that only eight percent of the schools in Haiti are public and that the public education expenditure in Haiti is 1.4 percent. Once he arrived in Haiti and these statistics became a tangible reality, Zornow aimed to change the goal of his project from learning about poverty to doing something about it. Zornow created a free school in Caneille, Haiti that offers education to over 120 firstto fifth-grade students. The school building was constructed by local Haitian builders, and the six teachers at the school have the country’s equivalent of a teaching certificate. In addition to providing a space for learning, the Zornows have worked to organize community seed distributions, fund a medical truck for transportation to and from hospitals and to provide kids with free lunches during the school day. Zornow raised the initial funds for the school and became the founder of the Caneille Regional Development Fund, a program that works to provide continuous financial support for the school. Feeding into this fund are smaller fundraisers that the couple continues to put on. Their fundraisers range from craft sales, to sponsoring a booth at SWAHP’s Alternative Giving Fair, to cutting seatbelts out of cars at junkyards. “It costs a dollar to cut them out and you can sell them for two dollars, so we were making a one dollar profit on each one,” Oliver Zornow said. In 2006, when Zornow asked students at the school what they wanted to be when they grew up, he was met with puzzled faces. They had not been shown ways of life other than subsistence living. In 2009, when Zornow posed the same question to the kids, students shouted that they wanted to be lawyers, doctors, community leaders or the president. Especially during a time when Haiti is hurting from the aftershocks of the Jan. 12 earthquake, Zornow said that the kids’ leadership skills will be key to getting the country back on its feet. For more information on the Caneille Regional Development Fund, go to http://caneille.wordpress. com/.