The people of Haiti have been on the minds of Shauna Simon and Sarah Ainsworth for a while now.
Back in 2010, when they were ninth-graders, Simon, Ainsworth and classmate Eliana Jolkovsky earned their Girl Scout Silver Awards by holding a fashion show that raised money for earthquake relief in Haiti.
The show featured fashions provided by local shops and many Holmes and Emerson junior high students as models. The event raised $700 for Doctors Without Borders to help with relief efforts following the devastating earthquake that had rocked Haiti earlier that year. It was a devastation, the girls learned, that destroyed so much of a country that had had very little to begin with.
Ever since then, Simon said, “I’ve wanted to do more to help the people of Haiti.”
“When I was doing my Silver Award project, I didn’t realize how passionate I would get about the situation in Haiti,” she said. “It really inspired me to do more.”
And now she is — this time by working on behalf of the Haitian nonprofit Hope on a String, which seeks to foster social transformation and economic development through music.
The organization is based on the belief that music can serve as an emotional outlet and healing mechanism for both individuals and communities. But making music requires instruments, and that’s where Simon comes in.
Over the next month, as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, she’ll be collecting new and gently used musical instruments as well as making maracas and tambourines to ship to Haiti.
On Saturday, Simon will host an event at the Girl Scout Cabin in Slide Hill Park, where children ages 6 to 12 can make maracas and tambourines. Participants will each make three or four instruments and even get to take one home for themselves, Simon said.
Then she’ll ship the instruments off to Haiti in the form of care packages, which also will include instructions on how to make more of them.
The event will run from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and advance registration is required by calling 530-400-3650 or emailing [email protected]
Anyone wishing to donate an instrument can bring it to the Girl Scout Cabin during Saturday’s event or make other arrangements with Simon. She plans to collect instruments all month long.
Meanwhile, Ainsworth, who like Simon has been in leader Belinda Martineau’s troop for 10 years, has concluded her efforts to help the people of Haiti.
Beginning last May, she started collecting much-needed items for a hospital and school in the town of Belle Anse, Haiti.
A family friend travels to the town twice a year to volunteer at both the hospital and school, Ainsworth said, and suggested items that were needed there.
“I collected books, clothes, shoes, scrubs, medical supplies, sunglasses and multivitamins,” Ainsworth said. “I was surprised by how much I got. I thought it was great how much the Davis community was able to contribute.”
Haiti hasn’t been in the news much of late, she noted, but that doesn’t mean the Haitian people don’t need assistance.
“Even years after the earthquake,” she added, “Haiti is still suffering. In the specific village I was collecting supplies for, it wasn’t affected too much by the earthquake, but they still have crushing poverty.”
Fortunately, Ainsworth collected enough supplies to fill a large bin that will be delivered to Belle Anse later this month. And it’s largely thanks to the community.
“Davis is always really happy to help, and that’s great,” Ainsworth said.
For her monthslong efforts, Ainsworth will receive her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award Scouts can earn.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy