Monday, January 10, 2011

One Year Later, Truly Remembering Haiti

Evidence, A Dance Company, in performance above, is one of the acts on the bill for the “Hope and A Future” benefit concert for Haiti Wednesday night at the Apollo Theater. Photo from

“THIRTY-FIVE seconds for 300,000 lives lost and more than 1.3 million people: mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, who are still struggling to find hope in a sea of despair," reads the "Bells for Haiti!" flier (above)created by Konbit-MN/Haiti.

The Minnesota group is doing everything possible to ensure that at 3:53 p.m. CST (4:53 p.m. Haitian time) for 35 seconds on Wednesday, 12 Jan., bells will be tolling across its state to remember the time, duration and date of the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti one year earlier, leaving thousands dead and thousands upon thousands homeless.

The group, which has no political or fundraising agenda, was spawned from an informal gathering of Minnesota organizations with an earnest desire to keep the conversation going about the Caribbean nation and to offer help that makes sense.

Those inside or outside Minnesota interested in participating in Bells for Haiti! can sign up to join Konbit-MN/Haiti on its Facebook page,!/event.php?eid=148430801873475.

Konbit-MN/Haiti’s Bells for Haiti! is but one of myriad events around the world and country – prayer/candlelight vigils, silence, concerts, panel discussions, etc. – commemorating the Haiti earthquake.

The Konbit-MN Haiti "Bells for Haiti! flier.

Also on Facebook is the “Haiti Earthquake Anniversary Commemoration.” Interested parties can sign on/sign up as a commitment to pause to remember and to invite friends to do so, too. “Our resolve remains undiminished, our hope to rebuild ever so strong. May we never forget..., reads the commemoration text. (!/pages/Haiti-Earthquake-Anniversary Commemoration/181801198497321#!/pages/Haiti-Earthquake-Anniversary-Commemoration/181801198497321?v=app_2373072738)

Partners In Health is staging “Stand With Haiti: One-Year Anniversary Candlelight Vigil” (6 p.m- 7 p.m. EST). The group is using the event, on the campus of University of North Carolina at Charlotte, as a fundraiser for its Stand With Haiti Campaign. (

A tent colony in Port-au-Prince. Photo from

The Boston chapter of PIH has planned “Remember, Reflect, Respond Haiti One Year Later” for Friday, 14 Jan. at John Hancock Hall (6 p.m.). It will be streamed live on the Web and will serve as an occasion to honor those who died, to acknowledge those who have been working to rebuild the country, as well as a time to prepare for challenges ahead. (

Also Friday in Greater Boston (Somerville) is the Haitian Earthquake Anniversary Commemorative Event at Somerville High School. It was postponed from 12 Jan. because of a snowstorm forecast for the metropolitan area. Weather permitting, the evening (5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.) has in store memorials (of course) but also through song, prayer and poetry, a celebration of what it perceives to be Haiti’s bright future. (

The City of Orlando (Florida) in partnership with Global Haitian Advancement Through Education and Sports is sponsoring “Remembering Haiti - the Earthquake on Wednesday (5 p.m.-7:30 p.m.). In addition to marking the anniversary of the quake and bringing attention to the ongoing needs of the people, it celebrates Haitian culture. School supplies and sports gear will be collected. (

Many Haitians who occupy CHF International add embellishments, such as a porch, to make them their own. Photo from

Though much has been done to ease the misery in Haiti, there is great consensus that much work lies ahead to return the nation to anything resembling normalcy - whatever that means in the context of Haiti. One year later, more than one million people are homeless. One organization, CHF International (, has been building rectangular, inclement weather-resistant structures that is calls shelters - some (timber frame) can last several years, others (newer light gauge steel) up to 40 years - but most displaced Haitians live in desperate conditions. "Home" is tents away from their actual homes. They lack the very basic in sanitation facilities. Rape of women in the tent colonies is reaching epidemic proportions. (See:,,,,

Only a very small percentage of the rubble from the earthquake has been cleared; millions donated to relief efforts have not been put to use. Charges of mismanagement, tepid response and general incompetence have been leveled at Haitian authorities, the U.S. government and some non-governmental organizations, among others. Further complicating the recovery, Haiti has been hit by a hurricane (Tomas), ongoing cholera epidemic, and widely criticized November elections.

The interior of a light gauge steel CHF International shelter. The owner made several changes, including building an indoor toilet and bathroom. Photo from

Oxfam International has been one of the few organizations in the forefront of Haiti earthquake relief, and has stuck around after the news cameras left. In a report last week, it criticized both the Haitian government and former President Bill Clinton, who along with Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, chairs the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). The report specifically cited an inadequate response to recovery efforts (

On Tuesday, Oxfam hosts one of two discussions in Washington and New York, respectively, that look back and forward. Oxfam America serves as host of the panel, “Haiti, One Year On: Realizing Country Ownership in a Fragile State” ( 3 p.m.-5 p.m.). The discussion among development experts will focus on how well aid has been used to promote country ownership – that is the Haitian people controlling and benefitting from the economic destiny of their country. Also up for discussion is the situation on the ground now and ways to better promote country ownership in future. A reception follows. Space is limited. The venue is Room B-340, Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill.Those wishing to attend should RSVP to

Gloria Gaynor, whose signature song ("I Will Survive") could also be an anthem for Haiti, is the headliner for “Hope and A Future” benefit concert at the Apollo Theater. Photo from

At the same hour in New York a discussion, “Haiti’s Children One Year Later Challenges and Opportunities,” will be underway at the United Nations. On the agenda is the response by, as well as challenges facing the international community as it works to promote the welfare of children during the reconstruction. Representatives from World Vision International, Save the Children International and Plan International participate in the conversation. The venue for the talk, sponsored by The Permanent Mission of Canada, is U.N. ECOSOC Chamber. Those interested in attending should RSVP by today to http://

Gloria Gaynor gets top billing for one of New York’s most high-profile programs. “Hope and a Future Benefit Concert for Haiti: An Uplifting Celebration of Haiti’s Survival Spirit” is a variety show organized by Community2Community (C2C) ( The fledging and ambitious Brooklyn-based nonprofit chose the Apollo Theater for its extravaganza. In store for the audience Wednesday (8 p.m.) are vignettes highlighting Haitian culture and history.

Also part of the entertainment is dance (Evidence, A Dance Company), spoken word and various genres of music, as well as “I Will Survive,” which deserves a genre of its own.

Call 800-745-3000 or visit for tickets to “Hope and a Future Benefit Concert for Haiti.”

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