A Bay Area man recently completed a harrowing journey, more than 3,000 miles away from home. He organized a grueling swim in the waters off Haiti to save children's lives and lift the Caribbean nation out of poverty.
Stanford graduate and silicon valley entrepreneur Jim Chu organized the 5-mile charity swim, which he completed with three friends.
"We're raising money for a local program that teaches Haitian children learn how to swim," Chu said.
Though Haiti is an island, dozens of local children drown each year due to poor to focus on water safety.
The swim required being ready for anything.
"We had rash guards and anti-jellyfish lotion," Chu said. "I had no problems at all. One woman had a jellyfish on her lips, but she just kept on swimming."
Chu says he saw sharks, but they posed no threat, not like the conditions.
"We weren't expecting 4-5 foot waves," he said.
Those waves beat them up for three hours. When the swimmers finally reached shore, they were exhausted, but elated.
Chu and his friends raised over $3,000, but they also raised Haiti's profile as a tourist destination. They hope they've showcased the island as more than a poor, unstable, earthquake-ravaged country.
"We do have nice resorts," Brand Haiti spokesperson Genevieve D'Adesky said. "Our Haitian people are amazing, they're very welcome. Culture is unique, the art is everywhere."
Chu has learned this first hand; his own family vacations there and he shuttles between Silicon Valley and Haiti, raising venture capital to bring clean, affordable water to Haitians.
He sees Haiti as a country of beauty and potential a vision he hopes to share once again next year in the second annual Swim for Haiti.
Bay Area man organizes swim to benefit Haiti