Clark’s Haiti Tragedy: Professor Comes Home + Remembrances Planned
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
According to Angel, the Bell family is planning a celebration of the life of their daughter, Meagan Leza Bell, on Saturday, July 20, at the Belchertown United Church of Christ, 18 Park Street, Belchertown, Mass., at 2:30 p.m. Instead of sending flowers, the Bells are asking that you donate to one of Meagan’s favorite charities. Full information can be found here online.
Angel said the university will share news on plans to honor and remember Clark student Amanda Mundt and her aunt, Diane Mundt, as the information becomes available. "We continue to keep both families in our thoughts and prayers," Angel said.
A tragedy in Haiti
Amanda Mundt ’14, a Clark University senior dedicated to educating Haiti’s poorest children, was tragically killed in a July 10 motor vehicle accident in that country. Also killed in the crash were Meagan Bell, daughter of Clark Professor David Bell; Diane Mundt, the aunt of Amanda Mundt; and, reportedly, the Haitian driver of the minibus carrying the Clark contingent. The driver’s name was not immediately available.
Professor Bell was injured in the crash and transported to Mass General Hospital in Boston for treatment. Also injured was Kenneth Mundt, Amanda’s father, who was flown to a Florida hospital.
The Haiti Press Network reported on Thursday that a Haitian driver also died when the minibus collided with a truck on Route Nationale #2 in the area of Fonds des Negres in the southern part of the country.
“We were devastated to learn about the accident in Haiti,” said President David Angel. “All of us at Clark University are mourning the tragic loss of life and injury to much-loved members of our community. Our hearts go out to family, friends, and all who were touched by this tragedy. We will support each other with love, reflection, and kindness in these difficult times.”
Amanda, who majored in International Development and Social Change, had devoted herself to the mission of securing a proper education for children who otherwise might never receive one. The Amherst, Mass., resident spent the summer of 2011 establishing and running a Lekol Dete (summer school) for 3rd-6th graders in Les Cayes, Haiti. The project was funded through her winning proposal to the Davis Projects for Peace Foundation, which earned her a $10,000 grant, as well as through a $2,000 dollar grant from the Restavek Freedom Foundation. “Restaveks” are Haitian children who are given (and sometimes sold) to another family, essentially to work as indentured servants in exchange for shelter. They are often physically, verbally and sexually abused by their host families, shunned by society, and rarely are given the opportunity to attend school.
Amanda’s school brought together the Restaveks and the “free” children for the summer as a way to break down long-standing prejudices among Haiti’s classes. Of her experience, she noted, “The Lekol Dete accomplished more than I could have imagined, achieving our goal of having one cohesive group of students with no discrimination or judgment.”
Amanda was a Making A Difference Scholar as well as a member of the women’s field hockey team. Prior to attending Clark, she worked with Opportunities for Communties, Inc. (OfC), a nonprofit educational organization, co-founded by her father, of which she had been a part since its inception in 2009. Through OfC Amanda cultivated partnerships in Les Cayes that helped her implement her Davis project, which she chronicled for the Clark University Athletics site.
In 2010, Amanda spent 10 days in Les Cayes, and flew out of Haiti only hours before an earthquake devastated the country. She talked about the experience with a Springfield, Mass., news station.
Amanda attended Amherst Regional High School and then Greenfield Community College prior to enrolling at Clark. Her passion for human rights work had been sparked in her sophomore year of high school when she took a service trip to the Dominican Republic.
She took a leave from Clark in the 2012-13 school year to work as an intern in the Boston office of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
In addition to her humanitarian work, Amanda was a mainstay on the Clark Cougars field hockey team, where she was the “quintessential Clark student-athlete,” according to Sean Sullivan, Director of Athletics and Recreation. “[Amanda was] highly devoted to her studies, concerned with global issues, committed to thoughtful change, and passionate about her sport,” he said. “She showed us all how any number of personal interests and talents could successfully coexist and we deeply admired her spirit, values and commitment to the betterment of others.”
Denise Darrigrand, Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, said grief counseling is available for students through her office, the Office of Intercultural Affairs and Counseling Services.
David Bell, the interim director of the Clark University Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, is coordinator of the graduate program in International Development and Social Change. He is an educationalist and psychologist who has worked extensively in Southern Africa in the field of education, empowerment, social transformation and community development. Most recently Prof. Bell has worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Labor on issues relating to child labor and education.
On Thursday, Davis Baird, Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, announced that IDCE Associate Professor Laurie Ross will serve as IDCE’s acting interim director.
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