Rebuilding Haiti, Focus of World Village Festival

By Barbara Melendez


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2010) – Bringing Haiti’s present and future into bold view, University of South Florida’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team is transforming the University Area Community Center (4013 N. 22 St. in Tampa) into a carnival-like international marketplace – with a serious message. The Fourth Annual World Village Festival will pay attention to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, and focus on efforts to rebuild the country, involving children from throughout Hillsborough, Pasco and surrounding school districts and their parents to help them learn about the global economy, while having fun at the same time. This event takes place Feb. 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is open to the public.   


Five booths will tell the story. The first booth, sponsored by USF student organization Club Creole will represent the earthquake. The second, under the direction of the USF Japanese Student Association, will represent Haiti under construction. The third, set up like a tent hospital, is devoted to saving lives, and will be operated by the USF Red Cross chapter and the USF Vietnamese Student Association. Number four, also set up by Club Creole, has education as its theme. The fifth booth is dedicated to self-sufficiency and there the USF African Students Association will be in charge. 


But it’s not all solemn seriousness. Club Creole will spotlight the arts with poetry and a display of Haitian artwork. In addition, Haitian music, dancers from Fanm Kreyol, Inc., a Haitian women’s organization founded to empower Haitian women, carnival-style games and food will keep everyone’s spirits upbeat. Student organizations Synapse and Students Achieve in All Areas are also providing volunteers to help out for the day.    


In the center of it all, SIFE students are setting up a monetary exchange, where the children will be able to convert their play U. S. currency and buy products in a world market, learning in the process the role of banks. 


Along with the U.S. “currency”, the children will receive a booklet that shows the phases Haiti will go through. Their “money” will only be used to exchange at the USA World Bank, IMF and the EU and in order to purchase items or playtime inside the Haiti booth. They must convert their “money” to Haitian currency at the central World Bank. 


“Everyone will be working toward helping to build a better economy for Haiti using the forces of the global economy,” said Dameion Lovett, SIFE advisor and assistant director of financial aid at USF. “The SIFE team is showing people ways to encourage educational development of our youth through this kind of activity.” 


To deal with more immediate needs at the festival, Club Creole will be accepting money, food and clothing donations that will go directly to the American Red Cross for relief efforts in Haiti. According to Bola Adeshina-Ortiz, SIFE’s director of community relations, the timing of the festival offered a unique opportunity to help Haiti –in both direct and indirect ways.


“Our goal is to bring awareness to the impact of the earthquake and help the Haitian people by suggesting and implementing ways to help the economic recovery of the country,” she said. “Haiti had an economic development plan worked out with the United Nations and others that was intended to modernize the economy after decades of political and social instability. The earthquake required a revision of the plan, rather than scrapping it entirely. This event will help bring understanding and show how the whole world will need to cooperate to help the Haitian people rebuild their country.”


For more information about SIFE visit or contact Bola Adeshina-Ortiz, SIFE at USF director of community relations at or (813) 787-1280.  And to learn more about SIFE, visit



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.