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FOTO raises funds for Haiti

Ann-Marie Woods | Thursday, January 28, 2010

In the wake of the Haiti earthquake, the Notre Dame chapter of Friends of the Orphans (FOTO) is directing fundraising efforts to support the Haiti branch of the international orphanage organization, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH).

However, the newly established club’s dedicated efforts to address third-world poverty began long before the recent natural disaster in Haiti.

Junior Michael Daly officially co-founded the organization last fall at Notre Dame with his with his sister, Saint Mary’s senior Tricia Daly. They wanted to increase awareness and action concerning poverty and provide opportunities for students to serve and learn at the NPH orphanage in Honduras.

“On campus, I think it’s a great way to bring the love and the experiences from the orphanages to the students,” Michael Daly said.  “We want to educate the student body and make them aware of what poverty is and the connection between poverty and Notre Dame.”

With over 250 members, FOTO achieved success with its first organized event in the fall semester, Charity Denim, raising over $2,250 for the Holy Family Surgery Center in Honduras.

The Holy Family Surgery Center, founded by Dalys’ parents Peter and Lulu Daly, is located on-site at the NPH Honduras orphanage. It offers the most up-to-date technology in the country in order to provide same-day surgical procedures for underprivileged patients who otherwise could not afford surgery.

Through FOTO, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students have had the opportunity to participate in service learning trips to the surgery center and the orphanage, interacting not only with the children of the orphanage, but also assisting the medical team with surgeries and diagnoses.

“This Spring Break we will be taking a group of about 15 Notre Dame pre-med students and Saint Mary’s nursing students to the surgery center,” Daly said.  “The nursing students from Saint Mary’s provide hands-on help and are able to do their clinical practices. We sit in on surgeries and there are some minor surgeries we can assist on.”

The team of about 50 medical professionals and students operate every day, performing primarily orthopedic surgeries such as leg and wrist reconstructions.

Yet, because of the immediate need for medical supplies in Haiti following the earthquake, the FOTO funds reserved for the surgery center have been sent to the earthquake-ravaged area where they are most needed at this time, Daly said. 

“There is no endowment or any type of funding for the surgery center,” Daly explained. “The main focus for our group is raising funds for the surgery center because students are deeply involved in it and because it is educating the pre-med and nursing students by giving them surgery experience.”

Daly explained FOTO will continue to focus fundraising efforts on rebuilding Haiti. However, with Spring Break quickly approaching, they will need to turn their attention to raising money for the service trip as well.

“We will keep focusing on rebuilding Haiti, but it is not going to happen overnight,” Daly said.

Aside from fundraising, Daly hopes to continue to educate students about third-world poverty through the lens of the NPH orphanage.

“These safe and secure NPH homes are great places to introduce students to third-world poverty,” Daly said.  “It’s so hard to seek Christ in these situations, but he is there. He is present, hidden behind all the pain.”

Daly said seeing other people’s experiences is a positive experience in itself.

“I love seeing people’s experiences [at the orphanages] and how it totally transforms their outlook on life,” Daly said.  “Their lifestyle is very different, more contemplative and thought provoking in service.”