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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Life + Arts

Group lends aid to Peruvian orphans

After just her first semester in college, Erica Fletcher spurred the creation of a volunteer student organization that now aids less fortunate communities in Houston, Peru and the Philippines.

‘I started it my second semester of freshmen year so I had a little time to see what college was like first of all and get my feet in the door,’ said Fletcher, a psychology and anthropology sophomore.

Being able to handle college was a high priority for Fletcher. After getting her feet wet on campus, founding president of the World Aid Organization Asad Moten gave Fletcher the idea to start a UH chapter.

‘At first it seemed like a lot of work and he had all these great crazy ideas about how to help the world, but I wanted to be a bit practical,’ Fletcher said. ‘I got my friends together and we decided to do local projects and fundraise for one international project each semester.’

Finding help was no arduous task, Fletcher said. After getting her friends involved word spread and now WAO has more than 100 Facebook members and more than 20 active members.

‘We started fairly small with 10 active members,’ Fletcher said, ‘but being in The Honors College really helped because we had a set group of friends and we all networked with other people and let them know.’

During the group’s first active semester in Spring 2008, students worked with Generation One, a non-denominational ministry dedicated to providing service in Third Ward, and successfully completed a few projects in the area.

‘We did a couple of painting projects for the MLK community center and did a lot of repairs on houses in the Third Ward,’ Fletcher said.’

Toward the end of WAO’s first semester, members raised $500 through campus bake sales for children in the Philippines.

‘We gave one of our members, who was going to visit his family in the Philippines, money to buy school supplies there where it is cheaper,’ Fletcher said, ‘and he bought supplies and backpacks and gave it to a rural school there.

In addition to providing aid in the Philippines, this fall WAO members raised $500 for Peru and sent the money with a member, who was also visiting her family, to buy school supplies and clothes for children in a hospital and an abused shelter.

This semester, members will raise more money through bake sales and possibly a letter writing campaign for children in Brazil.

‘We’re going to buy toothbrushes, school supplies and clothes, and (take) it all to children at an orphanage,’ Fletcher said.

Like any UH student, Fletcher spends her time hanging out with friends, family and exploring Houston, but for this double-major sophomore, helping other people is one of the most important actions any person can take in his or her life.

‘We’re all very connected in this world,’ Fletcher said. ‘If we can learn to love and help people as best we can, it really will make you feel better as to who you are as a part of this society and as a part of the global community.’

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