Naugatuck students on a mission to help Haiti


A girl feeds her little brother through a food program in Haiti. The program feeds about 200 children in a weekend.

Although it’s been over a year since an earthquake devastated Haiti, the Haitian people are still suffering from the aftershocks.

Already an impoverished country before the earthquake, the outpouring of international aid following the quake has not alleviated the plight of many Haitians, who still live in temporary tents and struggle to fulfill their basic needs.

Naugatuck High School students Samantha Medrek and Danielle Matos hope to help with some of those needs.

The pair recently raised $2,375 for Hope for Haiti as part of a school project with DECA. The two competed in a national community service competition with a 30 page paper about how they planned events and raised the money. They won third place in the state competition, earning them a spot at nationals in Florida.

“We figured that if we’re going to be putting so much effort into something, it should be for a good cause,” Medrek said.

Medrek and Matos raised the money through three fundraisers. They sold class t-shirts, had Valentine’s banquet, and had a dinner fundraiser J&M in Wolcott where they got 20 percent of the profits for the evening.

Now, they plan to travel to Haiti to deliver food and other supplies to children. During the trip, they plan to serve the food program that they gave money to and play with orphans. They will also help reconstruct the school in Quiox-des-Bouquets and go to tented communities to bring clean water, food and sheets.

Medrek said the money they raised so far is enough to fund the children’s food program for two and a half months.

“We have a really close connection with Haiti because our youth minister is from there and we knew that if we raise money, it would go to the right place and be in the right hands,” Medrek said.

Medrek and Matos attend Waterbury Church of Christ, which has a sister church in Haiti. Members of the Waterbury Church of Christ raised money to rebuild their affiliated church after the earthquake.

Members of the church also donated about half the funds the girls have raised so far, with the other half coming from school and community members.

The first week of July, Medrek and Matos will fly to Haiti for their mission.

Although they’ve already bought their plane tickets, the girls are looking for additional donations to fund the trip and buy toys and school supplies for the children.

The trip is not too expensive, about $1,000 each, but the girls are raising the money for the trip themselves, Medrek said.

Two Naugatuck High School students are traveling to Haiti to help with a children's food program.

“We don’t want our parents to have that burden any more,” she said.

Medrek said they would spend part of their time with their minister’s family and part of the time at hotels, depending on their funds.

Medrek said the trip will be an eye-opener, especially for Matos, who has never experienced something like this before.

She said seeing kids and families who have nothing and being able to help them will be a rewarding experience.

“I think the thing we’re going to learn the most is how to humble ourselves. I think we’re going to grow and become better people,” Medrek said.

Anyone interested in donating to the trip can visit the Waterbury Church of Christ at
3211 North Main St., Waterbury and ask to donate money to the upcoming Haiti mission trip.