Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just got this letter from Erin in Haiti, and she asked me to share it here on the blog...

Bon jour Ladies!!!

Things here are going good so far. Carla and a friend/ band mate took us to the tent city in PAP(Port au Prince) that Mona is living in… they are “off the grid” for assistance. We took maxi pads, diapers, 4 tents and tarps, Advil, toothbrushes etc., and contributed money to dig/build a toilet. There is NO water… people are carrying water from wherever… I never saw where the water came from. I did see a woman bathing. I held back tears as best as possible, and when I did cry, Haitian women had hugs to give. I haven’t smelled any bodies or seen any dead people. We are cooking for our neighborhood kids and everyone is so happy to have us here. We are planning to serve a meal up at our friend Elysee’s house in the mountain above Jacmel.

Everyone is so happy to receive the tents and the clothes and hats!!! Everyone lights up like a light bulb at the things we were able to bring from AK!!! Especially because we are not an NGO or part of a larger organization. It feels really good. It is too hard to put into words how I am feeling right now… happy but sad, frustrated but proud.

I have to admit that the warm weather is treating me right…mentally and physically, just being barefoot suits me. We have had rain, anpil lapli!!! I happened to be on a motorbike ride back to Timouillage from Jacmel with Ely and a taxi driver, (Ely’s bike got a flat earlier when we tried to leave) then the taxi broke down, in the one part of the road with no homes or businesses, I ducked under a banana leaf and held the flashlight while Ely and the taxi driver changed a sparkplug. We arrived at the house soaked-- head to toe… no need for the shower I had planned on after a hot dusty day in town. This is just one example of how things go in Haiti, everything is an adventure, when you make plans the Gods laugh… I get it. The Alaska Ayiti connections are everywhere. I can’t wait to talk about it with you all. Christian is shooting video of the projects we are working on and is going to make a short film, it will be very powerful!!!

Love you all!!!
Erin and Christian
Men anpil chay pa lou.
Many hands lighten the load.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Haitian Steel Drum Art

Tink tink clank tink. The sound of the hammers and chisels that coax the spirit and beauty out of old 55 gallon drums fills the air in Croix-des Bouquet, the center of Haiti’s metal art movement. This art form was born in the town in the early 1950’s by a blacksmith named George Liautaud, who created primitive crosses and free standing statues for the local cemetery. As his art evolved, reflecting his deep seated spirituality in both the Christian and Vodou traditions (see images top left), he inspired an entire generation of artists. Through apprenticeships and exploration, Haiti’s metal drum art continues to grow and capture the imagination of the world while preserving the unique spirit and culture of the Haitian people.

As I learn more about the process of turning steel drums into unique, intricate works of art, I am humbled by what simple tools and bare hands can summon. Barrels are stripped of their tops and bottoms, filled with dried banana or sugar cane leaves, and then burned to remove the residue of the barrel's former life. The next step is to split and flatten the cylinder, by hand and hammer. The design image is then cut out with a chisel and a mallet, and the metal is worked and brushed into stunning creations.

The hammers were quiet for awhile after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake that toppled buildings and took so many lives. I have read that in Haiti, art is life, and it is through art that healing will happen. A few days after the quake, as the earth began to settle, tables were set up as makeshift workshops, and the hammers and chisels once again began to fall., and once again, the air is filled with that magic, healing sound.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Voices from Haiti

Erin Behr shared these emails she had received from friends in Haiti, and I couldn't help but feel that these voices had to be published here on the blog. They are voices of strength, tenacity and survival. There is power in the hope that they carry, both heartbreaking and heart lifting…Brooke

Email from Carla (haititravels.org,)

I am overwhelmed at everyone's care and love poured out. I don't even know what to say other than we are ok physically, our bodies, our home guesthouse where we now have together with us our most beloved and whirling in a sea of millions of ideas about what this all means and how to cope with little cash and many mouths. We have been incredibly blessed with not only our own saftey but for the sake of all those that are dearest, we haven't had a casualty yet of the inner ranks of our loved ones, news is still coming in, communications is more than frustrating. My mission over the past week has been to get my people out of the city where it is turning into a living cemetery! (Ron just came back to this lovely yard where we are emailing just scrounging a coke and noticed the death smell is strong even though we can't tell where it's coming from, it's a sickly miture of the food being made right here too!) There are amazing stories, these are amazing people! How can I tell you how much each of your words with the love expressed for us means to us, it gives us courage to continue giving out to those who need us more than ever. Please keep connected to us, even as the days go by, we need your spiritual support as life will never be the same ever for all of us on this land that becomes ever more dearer to us each day. I am overwhelmed, Each day so much to do, organize and help. People are organizing in our community and that is very exciting. There is an undercurrent of expectations on us. We are working out how to help our neighbors with their collaboration. There are young organizations that are anxious to be of help too. We are working out a way so that everyone gets something for the moment. As things get set up, we will let you know how you can help those who are connected to our greater circle of loved ones, neighors and friends, but the prayer of love and strength is most needed right now. We love you all and are humbled by it all. May this bring us all closer to who we are, who we all are and who the Creator is!


Email from Jacqui (Port ah Prince)

Hi there friends. So many of you have written that I'm replying to all of you with the same news!! Amazingly I actually have Internet and email access!! Didn't think we would as digicel, one of the biggest telephone providers was off air until this morning and even now all the circuits are busy busy. I was sitting in Epi d'OR, a big bakery/cum cafe having a meeting when the earthquake hit. At first we all thought it was a big truck going by shaking the ground, but then soon realised it was an earthquake!! Everyone took to their heels and fled the cafe, but I stayed inside, thinking that I would either fall to the ground, or be trampled on by the crowds. And for what seemed like about 3 minutes I clung to a table and survived it. I lost my Business phone with everything going on.
My driver Felix, was outside so we left quickly to go home - around the Delmas 75 area. A new building being constructed across the way was in ruins and on the way home there were many other walls fallen down. We couldn't go into Delmas 75 as it seemed there was some wall or something else which had fallen and they were saying that 6 people had died. On our way home people were in a state of hysteria, probably due to the fact that they had possibly never seen an earthquake of this magnitude in their lifetimes. I heard on the radio that it measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. A popular church had completely collapsed - having folded in on itself and other houses and walls were down. People were wailing and crying and didn't know what to do. They said that although there had not been a service there were some people inside the church praying or having a meeting and they were sure that if they hadn't already died they were seriously injured. This morning the local hospital, Hopital Espoir had people laying around in the front of it, people who were injured. My household all slept outside on a spare piece of ground as throughout the nite there were more and more tremors - only slight, but some enough to send me running out of my house in case of any danger. The tremors continued right up until around 3.am but thank God they stopped after that. I think that was almost the most frightening bit, cos although we had survived the big one, no-one knew if there was another big one coming along. Most people seemed to have stayed out in the open so that they wouldn't get caught inside. there are reports in my local area of people's houses having collapsed with them inside and nothing could be done to help them. My house inside was in a shambles. Lost practically all of my lovely crystal glasses and other things, but thank God the house itself was fine. The wall on the neighbour's side is not too good and has a big crack in it but the wall on their other side had completely collapsed. My outer wall has a crack in it, but the house itself is fine. So I got off better than others. I was worried about Felix, my driver and of course couldn't get thru at all last nite, but managed to get thru this morning to his son, who tells me their house has collapsed ! I don't know how badly. Also his mother, Felix';s wife was hurt and he said she has a fractured foot.
I have no idea what Minustah are doing in the situation - although one of their main offices is in an old hotel 7 floors tall, so I can imagine there must have been panic there for them to get out. I can't get thru to any of my mates in Minustah to find out and have been trying to ring other friends to see if they're ok but no lines available. The radio was reporting that the Palace, several Ministries like the Ministry of Finance, Justice and Culture had all suffered damage to their offices. Plus schools had collapsed with children inside, but thank God it happened around 5pm - first of all in the daylight, but also when most children had already finished school. There is no electricity of course as all the wooden electricity poles were down. This is going to take a long time to get sorted. WE saw gas pumps which had been wrecked. This is as much as I know at the moment from my perspective in my area. But I'm fine and still positive. I read on MSN that 3 million were affected - so the Red Cross says, but don't know how they can come up with a figure like that. I heard that Aux Cayes in the S. West and Jacmel in the S. East and Cap Haitian werel badly affected. Haven't heard anything about poor Gonaives and I pray that God missed them out!! I'm waiting for the radio to give more information but of course they are reliant on people in local areas phoning in and that's going to be difficult. I don't know where the epicentre, I haven't looked at the international news reporting as I wanted to get this out and reassure you all Thanks for all your wishes and thoughts.

Luv Jacqui

Pheonix Jr. Jacmel,Haiti

“So i am ther the director of my school is dead .a bulding dowon up heim.Life is hard for me now i sleep in the street and everbady in jacmel.”