The Fairfield University chapter of the Jesuit Universities Humanitarian Action Network and Engineers without Borders clubs volunteered with members of St. Luke’s Church at the Trunk or Treat event at Caroline House in Bridgeport, Conn. on Sunday, Oct. 27 from 12-2 p.m.
As stated on their website, Caroline House’s mission is to help immigrant women and children reach their full potential. They have programs in English as a second language and life skills for women, in addition to a preschool and after-school tutoring for children.
JUHAN is associated with the Center for Faith & Public Life. As stated on their Life@Fairfield Club Page, JUHAN raises awareness about humanitarian issues and works toward response strategies to humanitarian crises.
Although it was pouring rain outside, Caroline House was bustling with children. There were many activities for children to enjoy, such as Halloween “Thriller”-themed dance competitions, games such as ring-tosses for prizes, face-painting done by Staples High School students, drawing and illustration and indoor sports events.
Jean Fredricks, director of the Caroline House Preschool, said the event was set up for 100 people, although the rain prevented some from coming.
“Last year, we had seven to eight cars that were lined up around the house. This year, because of the rain…we have six stations inside. We have fire engines, pirates walking the plank, sports, princesses…everything. We have Fairfield University on the porch handing out books with the Little Library…The children love it.”
Freise, a fifth-grader and one of the children attending Truck or Treat, said that she loved the drawing, painting and flamenco dancing activities.
Julie Mughal, the Associate Director of the Humanitarian Action Program and one of the Directors of JUHAN, said that her students in her first year experience: service learning for humanitarian action seminar work with the children at Caroline House every week.
“Caroline House is a wonderful organization in Bridgeport that empowers new immigrant women and their children, helping them to integrate into the community and helping them with English language skills,” Mughal said.
The Trunk or Treat event also celebrated the new “Little Library,” which was built enthusiastically by Fairfield University’s Engineers without Borders at the request of JUHAN’s Mughal.
Sophomore Nwacheku Ibekwe, Mechanical Engineering major, said that he joined the Engineering Without Borders club because he liked their central goal of humanitarian action.
“They built this water treatment plant from scratch in Bolivia and helped a local community. I want to give back to the local community in any way that I can. Today, I wanted to come and help kids have a good Halloween experience.”
Junior Nicolas Black, President of Engineers Without Borders, was one of the engineers who built a water filtration and chlorination plant in Bolivia alongside engineers from South Dakota State University.
“I joined Engineers Without Borders to gain experience in the engineering world and to make a positive impact on the world through engineering,” Black said.
Junior Anne Nebbia, Vice-President of Engineers Without Borders, said that she joined the club because she wanted to use engineering to help people in the community.
“We’re currently building another free library, and we’re still deciding where we’re going to put it… We’re just trying to get books out there for the kids,” Nebbia said.
The “Little Library” is a colorful bright blue and yellow wooden structure that is directly in front of Caroline House. Books are donated to Caroline House from the Fairfield County community, and children can come and pick out their favorite books at the Little Library, ranging from board books to young adult. Caroline House is currently looking for donations for preschool books.
At the Trunk or Treat event, Engineers without Borders members and JUHAN members handed out hardcover and paperback books to all of the children who attended the event. The children seemed excited
Freshman Yaritzia Avendano, who is part of JUHAN and wants to be a humanitarian action minor, said that she joined JUHAN because she likes their focus on community service. “JUHAN takes things very seriously to try and further the goals of good causes, such as environmental issues. The group is awesome, and they’re all very nice.”
Avendano also commented on her personal connection to Caroline House. “My mom came here with my sister and I have friends that go here. I know that little boy [said while waving at a child wearing a Superman costume, who waved back with excitement]…It’s nice to see how the school I go to now helps people in my community,” Avendano said.