Article by Teq Minsky regarding Brooklyn for Peace event I recently attended on behalf of Poto
Supporting Haiti takes many forms
By Tequila Minsky
Last month, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, spent a day in Haiti. As they witnessed the extent of devastation from the January earthquake they wanted to make sure the world does not forget.
Haiti, however, has and continues to be on the radar of New York’s Haitian community and local community activists. Nightly events pay homage to the trauma the country has endured while recognizing its dire needs. Proceeds collected at fund-raisers go to a myriad of efforts from typical large U.S.-based relief agencies to heartfelt and many very effective Haitian grassroots organizations.
Recently, the Latin American Committee of Brooklyn for Peace called for the first meeting in the coordination of the Brooklyn-Haiti Solidarity Initiative (Latinam@brooklynpeace.org).Held at the Society for Ethical Culture with a multi-ethnic assemblage of participants, members of local community or affinity-based organizations spoke about theirdirect on-the-ground earthquake relief work.
Manolo Santos of IFCO/Pastors for Peace told of delivering needed supplies trucked over the border from Dominican Republic.
Dr. Luther Castillo, about to return to the region, talked about coordinating the immediate and sustained Cuban medical effort. These doctors were able to respond at once as they were already in Haiti; hundreds of Cuban doctors provide medical care, there. Cuba also offers medical school scholarships to Haitian students and these graduates are working in Haiti.
Ninaj Raoul of the Brooklyn-based Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees has been to Haiti three times since Jan. 12 working alongside IFCO and MUDHA (Movement for Dominican-Haitian Women) and giving support to the children and staff of a destroyed orphanage in Leogane.
Marie Yoleine Gateau with the Neges(Nest for Educational Growth and Environmental Safety) Foundation works in the same region, the quake’s epicenter.She has been providing supplies and assistance to the families and children (over 800) who lost their homes, many connected with the Leogane School she has been supporting for more than 10 years.
Alice Backer announced the upcoming meeting entitled Reconstructing Haiti: Women at the Center on May 4 at New York Women’s Foundation (http://www.potofanm.org).
The Solidarity Initiative will hold its second meeting from noon to 1:00 p.m. as part of the Brooklyn Peace Fair on May 15 at the Brooklyn College Student Union.The fair’s hours are 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. with the participation of more than 30 Brooklyn organizations, workshops for youth and adults, performances and information tables from many local groups. The fair’s keynote speaker will be Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Noble Peace Prize nominee and Founder of School of the Americas Watch.
There are countless other local efforts for grassroots activities in Haiti.Recently in lower Manhattan, NYC residents Jacqueline and Jean-Paul Fils-Aime held a cocktail party in the loft of a neighborhood doctor and with the support of friends and neighbors raised $10,000 to help rebuild, reopen and support the earthquake damaged Children’s Harvest School.
Andree Carroll Celestin Hector, Jacqueline’s sister, started the school over 10 years ago in the Delmas 19 area of Port-au-Prince.Prior to Jan. 12, 300 children from that zone attended classes there in two sessions. Two-thirds of the students have their tuition waived. When possible, the school also provided a daily hot meal, which they hope to reinstitute with monies recently collected.
An Art for Humanity exhibition/fund-raiser in a gallery on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was held recently to support the Gastov Clerge Foundation that works in southern Haiti. Periodic medical missions with 50 volunteer doctors offer medical services to residents in the southern town of Les Cayes.This organization is also more than 10 years old and one of it’s founders, Herzen Clerge was on hand to talk about the work of the organization that focuses on education, health, science and sports (www.gaskov.org). Regional towns have been greatly impacted by the earthquake as they absorb the hundreds of earthquake refugees.
Raoul Peck’s one-time screening of Moloch Tropical at the Tribeca Film Festival was also a benefit, the proceeds going to Handicap International and the continuing work they’re doing in treatment and providing prosthesis for numerous recent amputees in Haiti (www.handicap-international.us).
Last month a Brooklyn screening of the film Poto Mitan and music with Troupe Makandale benefitted Domes for Haiti - pre-fab geodesic domes that are designed to be transitional shelter (www.domesforhaiti.org).
Events held in homes, community centers, at educational institutions, and a variety of other venues will continue to be organized to raise awareness and provide funds that go directly to very specific projects.
For the extended activist and Diaspora community, Haiti has never been far from their consciousness. It would be impossible to list all the recent local gatherings that support relief or rebuilding efforts in Haiti; these are but a few. In looking for projects to support, it is always good to do your research and when possible know those involved.