Alum crowdfunds mission trip to Haiti

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photo courtesy of Micah Vandersteen

This April, Micah Vandersteen ('14) will return to the Haitian village of Pasquette for the fourth time.

Micah Vandersteen, a 2014 BSM graduate, plans to return to Haiti this April for his fourth time to volunteer with people from his parish in the village of Pasquette. His first trip was during the summer after his junior year at BSM, and his second and third trips were both during his senior year. He started a GoFundMe page, and is looking for help from friends, family and even strangers to fund the trip. “The development of third world countries is something that has been extremely important to me since I took my first trip to Haiti in June following my junior year of high school,” Vandersteen stated on his page.

Vandersteen is currently a sophomore studying physics at the the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is also a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and starting his second consecutive term as the service chair. “He likes to show other people [ways to be involved],” Vandersteen’s sister and BSM junior Elyse Vandersteen said.

The trips to Haiti are organized through the Vandersteen’s parish, St. Andrew Lutheran Church, located in Eden Prairie. Some of the recent trips have involved installing a peanut grinder, which can be used by the people of Pasquette to make and sell peanut butter.

The goal of the upcoming trip is to install a wood-fired oven for the villagers to use to bake and sell goods. “Since my first trip, the village we work with, Pasquette, has seen so much improvement. The largest milestone that we have accomplished so far has been installing a solar powered well and a 500 gallon water tower, with a chlorinator that allows the water to be used for everything, including safe drinking,” Vandersteen said.

During my three previous trips, I have fallen in love with the people of the village, gotten to know many individuals despite the language barrier, and have developed a deeper passion for improving the lives of others”

— Micah Vandersteen

BSM’s dedication to their students volunteering has inspired Vandersteen. “During my three previous trips, I have fallen in love with the people of the village, gotten to know many individuals despite the language barrier, and have developed a deeper passion for improving the lives of others,” Vandersteen wrote on his GoFundMe page. Service learning is very important at BSM and many students have enjoyed going on the mission trips throughout the years. Volunteering and helping people around the world leaves a lasting impact on the students.

Vandersteen still has a few years left at the U of M, but he has plans for his future. “I am interested in volunteering for the Peace Corps after completing college, and I hope to make developing…countries a large part of my life following college,” Vandersteen said.