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Handing out hope in Haiti

Sethaly Beyer knows the value of doing good for others, and she has taken that passion across the globe - traveling to Sumatra last January and, in June, earthquake-rattled Haiti.

"It was the most moving and inspirational experience of my life and I am planning on returning in the fall," said Beyer, a class of 2003 Cazenovia High School graduate.

Beyer spent four weeks in Haiti working with Hands On Disaster Response. She spent the majority of those four weeks working on rubble removal - clearing away the remains of houses that had been sitting in ruins for five months after a devastating earthquake struck the impoverished island last January.

The program provided food six days a week as well as bunks for sleeping. In exchange, volunteers spent six days a week working. Volunteers also had to pay their own airfare.

Beyer first became involved with Hands On Disaster Response last January, when she helped in the disaster relief effort in Sumatra after a September 2009 earthquake. That meant she saw some familiar faces in Haiti.

"I knew people that would be there, kind of a group of 'disaster chasers,'" she said. "You see some of the same people over and over."

It was difficult to describe the experience, Beyer said. She was very impressed by those affected by the disaster and those volunteers trying to make a difference.

"Nobody complains - the resilience is so amazing. It should be a sad place but it's not like that at all," she said.

Beyer is finishing her undergraduate studies at City College of New York. She is working on her final thesis, which will focus on her work in Haiti.

Beyer drafted an e-mail during her stay in Haiti that she hoped would express the tragedy that she had been seeing on a day to day basis.

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