OGDEN -- When Andrew Scheuermann, 23, first heard about the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti in January, he knew he wanted to help. The Eden resident and Brigham Young University student donated money to the Red Cross and other organizations, but still wanted to do more.
"I wanted to do something that would be more long-term," he said. "Since Haiti was destroyed, it's a great time to rebuild. I want to change the things I can with these small, long-term things."
Scheuermann is volunteering this summer for eight weeks with the project Sustain Haiti. He is one of about 120 people, mostly college students from BYU and Utah Valley University, who will spend time in Haiti working on long-term projects to help the people get back on their feet.
"There's four main things we are going to be doing," Scheuermann said. "We will be doing microfinance, lending to poor people so they can start their own businesses, education, square-foot gardening and water purification systems."
The project stemmed from a business class at BYU, said spokeswoman Patrice Pederson. In the class, the students already had to pick projects similar to what they will be doing in Haiti this summer.
"We had just started the semester and then the earthquake hit Haiti," she said. "Most of us decided to drop the projects we had planned and focus on this."
Scheuermann said he is excited to learn more about the microfinancing program.
"I've always been interested in it," he said. "I want to get hands-on experience and see the real effect it can have on people's lives."
Getting to Haiti isn't easy, however. Scheuermann has to raise about $3,000 for his trip before he can leave in July. He is getting donations from family and church members but he still needs more money to fund the trip.
Donations can be made to support Scheuermann through Reach the Children, a non-profit organization that partnered with the Sustain Haiti project. Checks can be mailed to Reach the Children, 14 Chesham Way, Fairport, NY 14450. "Sustain Haiti" and "Andrew Scheuermann" should be written on the memo line.
Pederson said the project is needed because of the extreme devastation the earthquake caused to the already struggling country.
"Haiti was a mess before the earthquake," she said. "No one needs more help than Haiti. I think it's easy to be complacent, to sit in Utah, where life is beautiful, happy, and safe. It's important for us to get out of our comfort zones."
Scheuermann said he knows he'll probably be overwhelmed once he finally reaches Haiti, but wants to help make a change.
"I've heard from lots of people that go there that there is so much to be done, and not enough people to do it," he said. "The Haitians are working really hard. It's going to take them really decades to rebuild Haiti to the level that it was at before, much less a thriving economy."