Stories of Help and Survival in Haiti

Did you see the wonderful televised benefit last Friday night for the earthquake in Haiti? With singers like Rihanna, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Haitian-born Emeline Michel, the event raised $58 million, a figure that will increase from sales of downloaded music and CDs. The world is finally paying attention to Haiti, which has suffered so much.

Yet there is still no word on so many people, including the artists who make Haitian paintings, Vodou flags, and metal crafts that are the visual ambassadors for this country. With this fact in mind, I am personally donating 10 per cent of all sales on my website www.Haitianna.com in 2010 to earthquake relief in Haiti.

For those interested in up-to-date news, CNN on TV is doing a better job than any other news organization. Christiane Amanpour devoted the full hour of her Sunday afternoon program to Haiti and reported from that country in a live transmission. She interviewed the president of the International Monetary Fund and the head of the United Nations Mission in Haiti about the country’s eventual redevelopment, as well as Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat, who lives in Miami, Florida.

Here’s an important tip, courtesy of CNN: if you want to check out streets and neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, the TV network has a 360-degree camera (actually, eleven cameras shot the images) that can be adjusted up or down. Log on to a computer and type in “CNN.com/Haiti360” and look around.

A friend asked me if she could help someone directly. An art dealer who lives in Haiti named Bazil Justin did manage to survive. I received an email from him, describing a trip to the Dominican Republic for food. He is with sixty people, all of whom need help. To contact him directly, his cellphone number is 011-509-3-829-518-9291.

Amazing stories of survival continue to come out of Haiti, as they will for months and years ahead. National Public Radio aired an interview with Romel Joseph, a Juilliard Music School-trained violinist and head of a music school in Port-au-Prince with 238 students. Thankfully, all of the students were off the premises during the time of the earthquake on January 12th. But Joseph and five other people were on site. This almost totally musician lost his pregnant wife to the tragedy. Ironically, the earthquake occurred ten years to the day that the school had burned down in the year 2000.

Joseph, interviewed at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami where he is recovering from injuries to his hands, was trapped under the rubble for many hours. Prayer and meditation occupied some of his time, but the bulk of it was devoted to mentally playing different concertos. Music got him through. He is confident that he will paly violin again and be able to teach once more. “The school is a very important part of my life,” says Joseph. “Haiti has very little art education and music. We’re going to reconstruct the school as soon as possible. I need more than an earthquake to stop my work in Haiti.”

— Candice Russell

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