lundi 9 mai 2011

PUC faculty teaches in Haiti

By Andrea Drac Staff Writer
Published: Sunday, May 8, 2011
Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti and the area hit hardest by the January 2010 earthquake, had been the center of higher education, drawing in students from all over the country. 87 percent of Haiti's universities were located within or close to Port-au-Prince. Out of 32 major universities, 28 were destroyed and the rest were severely damaged, according to Phyllis Bergiel's, visiting instructor in philosophy, PowerPoint presentation.

Bergiel visited Haiti in March as part of an education mission program. Other PUC faculty members who visited Haiti are Neeti Parashar, associate professor in physics; Lynn Zimmerman, associate professor in education; and Kathy Tobin, associate professor in history who introduced the program to PUC.
"We went on a volunteer basis," Bergiel explained as she went through various PowerPoint slides.
University of the Nouvelle GrandAnse is a community college with two programs in agriculture and management, with no permanent staff available. Bergiel spent two weeks in Jeremie, with eight days of student contact. She taught the students for an hour and a half each day. Most of the students were adults, who had homes, family and work to take care of.
"I was surprised they could study with all of the work they had to do at home," she said. "They knew the readings back and forth."
When Bergiel was not teaching, she was networking with non-governmental organizations to coordinate efforts in Haitian agriculture. Other tasks she mentioned were getting back reliable electricity and getting more sanitary facilities such as toilets, clean water, etc.
One of the things Bergiel was surprised about was Haiti's close distance.
"I pictured Haiti to be further away than it was," she said. "But it was a two hour plane ride from Florida."
Bergiel said the conditions were dangerous, but the experience was very rewarding for her.
Zimmerman said the conditions in Haiti were different to what she is used to. To take a shower she had to stand under a single pipe with water running down it.
Zimmerman went to Haiti in November of 2010, but did not go alone. She brought along a friend, Karen Oswald.
"It was nice to have someone with me, to talk to," she said.
Zimmerman taught an English class at UNOGA. The lack of technology was the hardest thing for her to get used to.
"I never used electronics or technology, except for one time when we were showing a video, because it was too difficult," she said.
Without technology, Zimmerman had to make copies of everything and rely on the blackboard to write things down. However, she introduced her class to the concept of group work, which she said they did well with.
"Working with the students was rewarding," Zimmerman said. "(We were) able to give them something they couldn't get otherwise."
Parashar visited Haiti in November 2010 and taught two physics courses at UNOGA during her one week visit: mechanics and a class in electricity, magnetism and optics. She said the students were shocked to see a physicist who was a woman.
Besides teaching, Parashar enjoyed doing yoga with her class of 120 students.
Despite the language barrier, Parashar and her students connected well, thanks to a translator. Both Zimmerman and Bergiel expressed their thanks to their translators as well during the presentation, as they helped them with anything they needed in Jeremie.
"Despite all apprehensions, I was very glad to be a part of people who appreciate it (our help)," Parashar said. "It is our duty to help those in need."

RAM members discuss Vodou culture and more at New Orleans Jazz Fest

Published: Sunday, May 08, 2011, 5:22 PM
By Laura McKnight, The Times-Picayune NOLA.com
Leaders of the Haitian band RAM spoke about music, mothers, politics and Vodou this afternoon as part of a New Orleans Jazz Fest dedicated to Haiti and its strong connections to New Orleans.

Grant Morris with ItsNewOrleans.com, left, interviews members
of the Haitian band RAM on Sunday at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
RAM founder and vocalist Richard Morse, musician Gaston
Gaspard and Morse's wife, Lunise, talked about Haitian culture
and politics.
Grant Morris with ItsNewOrleans.com, left, interviews members of the Haitian band RAM on Sunday at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. RAM founder and vocalist Richard Morse, musician Gaston Gaspard and Morse's wife, Lunise, talked about Haitian culture and politics.
The sizeable band has delighted crowds with Vodou ceremonies, parades and other shows at this year's Jazz Fest. The group closed out the Jazz and Heritage Stage today at 5:45 p.m.
Grant Morris, a New Orleans singer and songwriter as well as webcaster for the site ItsNewOrleans.com, interviewed RAM founder and vocalist Richard Morse and his wife, Lunise, a Haitian native and vocalist for the band, at the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage. RAM member Gaston Gaspard played keyboards for several songs performed during the interview.
RAM, formed in 1990, quickly became one of the most influential bands in Haiti through hopeful music that addresses government corruption and other social ills. RAM combines elements of rock; lyrics in Creole, French and English; and Haitian rhythms, melodies and instruments. The group's single "Ibo Lele (Dreams Come True)," is included on the soundtrack of the 1993 film "Philadelphia" starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
Morris mentioned how Morse has been called the Bob Marley of Haiti, a label Morse brushed aside.
"I doubt it," Morse said.
Morris prodded Morse for stories of military juntas angered by RAM's pro-democracy lyrics, death threats and possible assassination attempts on Morse and his band members and regimes that switched from friendly to ominous attitudes toward RAM and its music.
Morse tried to downplay his exposure to violence with generalized answers and subtle hints.
"This is all very delicate," he said.
Even through subtleties, the interview showed how music can form a powerful force, potent enough that lyrics can attract the attention -- both positive and dangerously negative -- of violent political regimes and countering would-be leaders.
Morris noted that it seems like Morse has angered every regime in Haiti at some point.
"Other people usually pick a side and stick with it," Morse responded. "We picked an ideal." As RAM's pro-democracy ideal falls in and out of favor with various groups, the band becomes a source of their ire, he said.
"Our alliances are with the Haitian people," he stressed, summing up RAM's stance as this: "Day by day, we try and do the right thing."
Morse described his background and personal ties to the island country. Morse was born in Puerto Rico to an American father and Haitian mother, singer and performer Emerante de Pradine, renowned for bringing Haitian music and vodou culture to the U.S. as entertainment.
"She's really a pioneer," Richard Morse said.
Morse was playing New Wave punk music in 1985 when he visited Haiti to retrieve world-music rhythms for his sound. He found not only rhythms but melodies, instruments, spirituality and a wife.
In contrast, Lunise Morse said she grew up in a nonmusical family.
"I'm the only crazy," she joked.
Lunise Morse said she started singing when Richard Morse recruited her from her dance troupe to perform with RAM.
"What she was doing was what I was looking for," Richard Morse said.
Richard Morse also addressed misconceptions about Vodou, which lead to misconceptions about the Haitian people.
People associate Vodou with Satan and other demonic spirits. He explained the island's beliefs with comparisons to concepts familiar to Americans.
"There is an American holiday that most resembles Vodou," he said, to which the crowd responded with "Halloween." "Everybody says that, but it's Thanksgiving."
The holiday resembles Vodou, because it centers on an offering placed on a table, giving thanks to spirits of the harvest, an idea the Pilgrims likely took from American Indians, he said.
Vodou also resembles an expansion of Catholicism, which forms an expansion of Protestantism in that the denomination includes a larger collection of deities, Morse said. Catholicism includes the Holy Trinity as well as the saints; Vodou includes the Holy Trinity, the saints, ancestors and a pantheon of Vodou spirits, he said.
Morris asked Richard Morse if he becomes possessed by some of these spirits while performing.
"I would assume that they come by and that they help us make the music that we make," said Morse, who arrived in Haiti as an atheist, but now believes in God, the Holy Trinity, the saints, spirits and ancestors.
People speak of Haitians as influenced by Satan, but outsiders should remember that westerners shackled Haitians and brought them to this land for money, Morse said.
"We have to face these crimes and we have to address them before we can move on as Americans, before we can move on as Haitians, before we can move on as a people," he said to loud applause.
Morris asked Morse why he stayed in a violent country known as the poorest in the Western hemisphere.
"It's the richest country in the Western hemisphere, too," Morse said. "You can't find these melodies just sitting around Connecticut."
Yet he admitted that with the abundance of Uzis and anger, "Anyone in their right mind would have left."
But he was determined to grasp the music.
RAM's involvement in politics will likely continue, especially since Richard Morse's first cousin, musician Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, was just elected president.
The group performed a melodic song in Creole during the interview, but ended with a song in English that expresses a major desire.
"We want justice for all our friends and neighbors," the Morses sang. "We want justice for people we don't even know."

Saskatchewan Registered Nurses: Helping and healing in Haiti

By Debra Clarke, Leader Post May 9, 2011 4:09 AM "Every second was a new picture."
Patricia Zip still remembers the sights, sounds and smells of Port au Prince, Haiti, four months after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck on January 12th, 2010.
In the country to teach rehab staff and patients while facilitating safe, competent inpatient and community care, Zip remembers rubble being left where it had fallen, with paths cleared only to make room for people and vehicles involved in the recovery efforts.
"Extreme poverty and filth was everywhere. It was hot. Hospitals had no windows or doors; goats, chickens and children ran in and out. Women and men patients were separated by gender: one room for each group. TB, aids, maternity, spinal cord injuries were all in the same room. No regard for contagious diseases and little privacy. "
The continued political unrest in the country meant Zip and her medical colleagues always traveled with a Haitian guide while armed guards protected the hospital compounds or homes where they were staying. The threat of disease was also an ever-present danger.
"We took daily anti-cholera medications and were treated for malaria and other diseases. We slept under malaria nets. Some of the medical staff became ill. Our daily food was cooked by local Haitian ladies and consisted of a mixture of rice and beans, sometimes varied with a few small portions of goat or chicken added because we were 'honoured guests'."
Haiti would turn out to be a life-changing experience for Zip - one that would not only call upon all her training as a registered nurse but also one that would impact her as a person. "As a nurse, my training taught me to think critically but it was overwhelming walking into an area of devastation and destruction. It was the destruction of the human spirit which was the hardest to deal with."
Despite all they have endured, though, Zip says the Haitian people have great hope.
"We're taught to utilize many important competencies such as nursing care provider, counseling, teaching, and advocating. Nursing, as an evidence-based profession involves life-long learning. With experience comes adaptability without compromising standards of safe care. Haiti was certainly a test of commitment and adaptability."
A faculty member with the Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan (NEPS), Zip has gained significant education and training, including Canadian Rehabilitation Certification Nurse. She teaches in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Saskatchewan and facilitates clinical students in Rehabilitation Medicine at City Hospital in Saskatoon.
After hearing about the destruction and the urgent need for medical help, Zip knew she had to go. A colleague put her in touch with the head of Team Canada Healing Hands, a group "committed to facilitate development of rehabilitation professionals to staff clinics and rehab facilities with a goal of training Haitian health care and community workers."
Another goal, says Zip, was "to construct and operate outpatient rehab services."
Zip was chosen to be part of the team because of her considerable training and expertise, particularly with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI). "The majority of patients were paraplegics," she says. "These patients were situated in Fond du Blanc and Cap Haitian, on opposite sides of the island. I spent a week at each. I worked in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of rehab specialists including a physical therapist and physiatrist from New Brunswick."
Zip also spent time teaching individual patients and staff, since the earthquake had destroyed the nursing school in Haiti. While most of the students were out of the school doing practicums on the day of the quake, sadly "the entire faculty died when the building collapsed."
She discovered Haiti's version of heath care is much different than Canada's. "Care was managed by family and nurses at the level of an aide or licensed practical nurse. Hospitals are scarce and sparse. Patients provide their own bedding, food, water and even medications in many situations. A lot of Haitians have strong Christian faith but turn to voodoo healers when sick and progress is not as hoped for."
With much of the population living in poverty, the focus for many became survival following the earthquake. Zip notes that most Haitians live on $2 a day or less, meaning there was little money to buy medication or supplies at treatment centre, which charged fees in order to pay for staff and upkeep - a source of both anger and despair for the Canadian medical teams.
"I recall a baby denied inhalers for asthma because her family could not afford them," says Zip. "The volunteer nurses paid for some medication but the baby soon died because the family could not maintain supply of the meds. This would never happen in Canada. We cried."
The lack of supplies, medical aid and overwhelming destruction and devastation impacted Zip in many ways. She returned to Canada "with only the clothes I wore. I left everything I possibly could for them. I wish I could have given more."
She is also planning a return trip to the still-ravaged country, having been invited back by a prominent Haitian physiatrist and by Healing Hands Canada.
"Until the day that they have leaders who actually care for the people, volunteers are needed. I am not special. I simply gave of myself and did whatever I possibly could."
Read more: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Saskatchewan+Registered+Nurses+Helping+healing+Haiti/4749877/story.html#ixzz1Lqc1HXiO

Haiti debates dual citizenship change

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson visited Haiti on Saturday as a debate over dual citizenship got underway. By JACQUELINE CHARLES
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- As the representative of Haitians living abroad on a commission charged with rebuilding quake-ravaged Haiti, Joseph Bernadel, a retired U.S. army major from Delray Beach, can have an opinion — but he doesn’t get a vote.
That harsh reality is just one of many examples of how Haitians who have accepted citizenship from other countries have been left out when it comes to deciding on the future of their unlucky homeland, Bernadel said.
But he and some other Haitians living outside the country are hoping that will change soon. Members of Haiti’s parliament began debate Saturday on several changes to the country’s 1987 constitution, including one that would do away with a law banning dual nationality.
“More than anything else, this double nationality gives a clear message to people of Haitian ancestry who have gone to the diaspora that there is a place for them in Haiti, not only in the reconstruction aspect, but in the everyday life in Haiti,’’ Bernadel said.
The recognition of dual or multiple nationalities for Haitians has the support of the U.S. government.
Miami Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson, who visited Port-au-Prince Saturday for a few hours, said she also supports the concept. “What they are describing is fine,’’ said Wilson, who represents the largest constituency of Haitian-Americans in the United States.
It was the first time she had seen the devastation unleashed by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. “I wanted to see what we were deporting people back to,’’ she said. “Even today, more than a year after, the place still looks like a war zone. It’s heartbreaking.’’
Wilson not only got a helicopter-tour of the country, courtesy of president-elect Michel Martelly, but she also received a crash course in the constitutional reform debate sweeping the nation.
Of equal concern to her, she said, is the fate of thousands of Haitians who received Temporary Protected Status in the United States following the quake. TPS comes up for renewal in June, and she and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are fighting to keep the benefit that allows Haitians to legally live and work in the U.S. temporarily.
Meeting with Haitian senators inside the broken parliament building, Wilson was told she was visiting Haiti on a “historic weekend.’’ Fifteen lawmakers had spent 48 hours drafting a report on proposed changes to the constitution. In addition to the nationality issue, they will debate a 30 percent quota for the hiring of women and changes in the election cycle for senators.
They have until midnight Monday to make changes, or wait four more years.
Earlier in the day, several senators — including many up for reelection in November — went to meet with President René Préval to seek an automatic extension of five years on their terms in exchange for an amendment allowing a president to serve back-to-back presidential terms. Préval had previously sought the presidential term provision but was rejected.
“It’s going to be a long day today and Sunday,’’ said Sen. Steven Benoit, a former member of the lower house who was recently elected to the Senate.
For days, the issue of dual nationality has dominated the airwaves and the Internet in Haiti and abroad.
At the very least, say supporters, the proposed changes redefine what it means to be Haitian, benefiting countless stateless immigrants living in the Dominican Republica, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.
But how far the changes should go is hotly debated. Some Haitian-Americans simply would like the chance to own and inherit land legally in Haiti without hassle; others would like to hold political office. As the amendment is currently proposed, it prohibits a run for the presidency, or to be named prime minister, head of the government. It also would prohibit dual-nationals from being police chief or head of the supreme court.
“We still can’t agree on what it means to be Haitian,’’ said Sen. Francois Anick Joseph, another newly-elected senator.
Even though he said he supports the concept, he said the lack of clarity has him hoping the proposed version of the law won’t pass.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/07/2206555/haiti-debates-dual-citizenship.html#ixzz1Lqax3MIQ

Haiti among LCDs to benefit from new programme

CMC Monday, May 09, 2011
UNITED NATIONS (CMC) — Haiti is expected to benefit from a new 10-year programme for the world's poorest nations.
Talks have started in Turkey bringing together heads of state, lawmakers, civil society organisations, the private sector and chiefs of international agencies as the least developed countries (LDCs) seek to implement measures for building infrastructure to attain economic self-sufficiency, decrease poverty and create decent jobs.
A UN statement said that Haiti is among the 48 nations — 33 in Africa and 14 in Asia — that will benefit from the initiative.
Among the features of the May 9-13 UN conference will be an LDC trade fair as well as a private sector forum and CEO summit on international business opportunities in these countries.
"But the LDCs average a 50 per cent rate of extreme poverty, are victimised by deadly disease and climate change and remain highly vulnerable to political or external economic shocks.," the UN said.
A report released in late March by an expert panel appointed by the UN secretary general warned of continued marginalisation of these countries.
"Rising food prices pose a severe challenge and an opportunity. Most LDCs are net food importers and one third of their populations are chronically malnourished.
"But if modern infrastructure is in place and local farmers have access to necessary support, they might benefit from firm prices and launch a turnaround in low-productivity agriculture, the UN statement said.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Haiti-among-LCDs-to-benefit-from-new-programme_8776186#ixzz1Lqa7que4

Local doctor helping in Haiti.- He aids hospital with rebuilding

By Alyssa Sunkin
Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 05/09/11
Nearly 16 months ago, when orthopedic surgeon Ronald Israelski heard of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated Haiti, he knew what he needed to do.
The Goshen resident stuffed 10 large duffle bags with equipment from Orange Regional Medical Center, Catskill Orange Orthopaedics and Crystal Run Healthcare.
Then, about 19 days after the quake that killed more than 230,000 people and injured 300,000 others, he left his wife and three children behind and set out for the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
There, he set up shop for seven days at Hopital de l' Universite d'Etat d'Haiti — the nation's largest hospital and its teaching hospital — reduced to rubble by the quake. There were no X-rays. No sterile environment. No overhead lighting.
He amputated limbs. He closed deep gashes. He watched an 18-month-old toddler, with flies swarming around his eyes, die in front of him.
"The howling and crying of the family members was almost unbearable," recalled Israelski, 51, Orange Regional's director of education and founder of its bone and joint center. "This poor young child staring out into space, flies on his eyelids, never had a chance to even have a semblance of a real life."
As the son of Holocaust survivors, the Haiti disaster struck a chord with him. "When I saw the piles of bodies and heard the unprecedented suffering, it was the closest — with the sights, sounds and smells — that my parents and dead relatives witnessed in the Holocaust," he said.
He's submitted a business plan to hospital administrators in Haiti detailing six steps he believes will help rehabilitate the orthopedic services department.
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, orthopedic surgeon
Ronald Israelski of Goshen went to help. He's shown in a
 medical  tent in Port-au-Prince that served as a treatment
center after Haiti's largest hospital was damaged. He
now  hopes  to rebuild the hospital's orthopedic
services department with  the help  of our local hospitals
Israelski hopes that by rebuilding the department's infrastructure and obtaining equipment, then sending down teams from our area hospitals once a month and establishing a permanent affiliation, he can jump-start the operation.
He has since been back to Haiti three more times — totalling about two weeks — talking to hospital orthopedic residents, administrators and others about his agenda.
He's sent down portable X-ray and ultrasound machines and other equipment, courtesy of Radiologists Without Borders, Hudson Valley Ambulatory Surgical Center and the Fox Hill Community in Walden.
And he plans to establish a nonprofit, Do The Right Thing, for which he'll soon apply for
501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. Once that's set up, he hopes to collect donations to fund his efforts.
"Having seen the entire department, hospital operating rooms and infrastructure in shambles," he said, "it has become extremely important to me to try to make an impact."

Haitian orphan having surgery in Austin

Leonise Louima, 10, to undergo heart surgery Published : Sunday, 08 May 2011, 6:14 PM CDT
Jacqueline Ingles
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Leonise Louima, a 10-year-old Haitian orphan, arrived in Austin Sunday evening after a long day of travel.
She will undergo heart surgery mid-week at Dell Children's Hospital .
Leonise Louima was born with patent ductus arteriosus or PDA . PDA happens when a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus fails to close normally in an infant soon after birth. The condition leads to abnormal blood flow between the aorta and pulmonary artery – two major vessels that carry blood from the heart.
"I feel good," said Leonise after she arrived. Her host mother, Yvrance Joseph Volcy, a Haitian native who moved to the United State 30 years ago, translated for her. Leonise speaks French. This was her first time on an airplane.
With Haiti recovering from the devastating earthquake of January 2010, she can't get the surgery she needs at home.
"I am going to be there for her," said Volcy, who is also hosting the girl's aunt during her brief stay.
Lewis Lucke, a former U.S. Ambassador to Swaziland , was also at ABIA Sunday, but couldn't stay to meet Leonise when her flight became delayed.
He led the U.S. response team following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. He will meet with her Monday and serve as her translator.
"I'm just going to be around to greet her, to make her feel at home and we have gifts for her and her aunt," said Lucke.
Lucke has never met Leonise or her aunt, but he did help them get visas to travel to Texas.
Austin-based HeartGift Foundation is helping this third-grader get the life saving surgery she needs at Dell Children's Hospital . The foundation provides life-saving heart surgery to children from developing countries.
Leonise couldn't undergo this type of surgery in Haiti.
Lucke, who visits there twice a month, said the country is still devastated.
"The crisis really has continued. The Haitian people are incredibly resilient. They need everything but mostly the world's attention," Lucke explained.
Leonise is from Gonave, about an hour drive from Port-au-Prince.
She herself is resilient, having lived through three hurricanes prior to that deadly earthquake.
She has also had to deal with the death of both her parents. Her father died in 2001; her mother died in 2005.
Volcy told KXAN she will sing to Leonise to help her feel at home.
"I will see Fara Jacka to her. All French children love that song. I will give her hugs too," Volcy explained.
Leonise is slated to undergo surgery on Wednesday at Dell Children's Hospital.
Lucke said Leonise will likely head back to Haiti a week after surgery.
Leonise lives with her aunt, her grandmother, her four sisters, her brother and several cousins back in her home country.

Homes for hundreds going up outside Haiti's capital

AP: Monday, May 09, 2011
CABARET, Haiti — A worker walks on the grounds of the
Mission of Hope 500 housing project in Cabaret, Haiti
 which will provide low-cost shelter for people made
homeless by the January 2010 earthquake. (Photo: AP)
CABARET, Haiti (AP) — A religious charity said Friday it has started a housing project north of Haiti's capital that will ultimately provide low-cost shelter for about 2500 people, many of them victims of last year's devastating earthquake.
The Mission of Hope project near the town of Cabaret will consist of 500 simple homes in bright pastel colours, each with a couple of fruit trees to provide food and a source of extra income to the families, said Jay Cherry, who is co-ordinating the project for the charity based in Fort Myers, Florida.
Haiti's government provided 120 acres for the project and Mission of Hope is raising the $3-million cost of construction through donations, Cherry said.
Residents will pay a small monthly rent that the charity plans to use to provide services to the community.
The project comes amid frustration over the slow pace of reconstruction from an earthquake that the Haitian government said killed more than 300,000 people and displaced about 2 million.
Haiti's reconstruction commission approved the housing project in September and it is scheduled to be completed in December 2012.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Homes-for-hundreds-going-up-outside-Haiti-s-capital_8776563#ixzz1LqUjUvf5

Printemps théâtral à Kourou : Ayiti de Daniel Marcelin

Le vendredi 13/05/11 - Kourou

Le Théâtre de l'Entonnoir, en partenariat avec le CUCS de Kourou, l'ACSE, la DRAC de Guyane et
Le Conseil Général de Guyane, fête le printemps théâtral à Kourou les 13 et 18 mai
2 spectacles au programme
AYITI de Daniel Marcelin: le 13 mai à 19h30 au pôle culturel de Kourou, (entrée libre)
(et L'Enfant, de Marie-Thérèse Picard le 18 mai)
AYITI : Véritable défi pédagogique et artistique, la pièce de théâtre Ayiti de Daniel Marcelin pose là l’interrogation quintessentielle qui taraude Haïtiens et amis d’Haïti. Comment la première république noire et le 2e pays à s’émanciper du joug du colonisateur après les États-Unis dans cette région, est-il devenu le pays au revenu par habitant le plus bas des Amériques même s’il concentre une grande richesse sur le plan historique et culturel ? Daniel Marcelin choisit l’angle didactique et interprète en plus de son propre rôle, tour à tour, gouverneur, empereur, roi, présidents et autres chefs d’État, qui ont dirigé le pays depuis le face à face de Toussaint Louverture et Napoléon jusqu’à Jean-Claude Duvalier dit Baby Doc, par ailleurs actuellement sous le feu des projecteurs depuis son retour inopiné en Haïti le 16 janvier 2011. Endosser la casquette de personnalités aussi hallucinées – des mégalomanes déjantés, dictateurs sanguinaires, analphabètes ou lettrés, mulâtres ou noirs matant les paysans cacos, matant les plus démunis, matant toute velléité de rébellion ; tous ou presque lucides sur leur fonction suprême : « vider les caisses de l’État et partir ! » – n’a sans doute pas été de tout repos pour Daniel Marcellin dont nous saluons la performance.
La pièce s’ouvre sur l’annonce dans les médias du séisme du 12 janvier 2010. Miné dans un premier temps par une angoisse exponentielle, le comédien reclus dans une chambre à Bruxelles, cherche à obtenir des nouvelles de sa femme, de ses enfants. Passées les premières 24 heures mortifères, il obtient au bout du fil des paroles rassurantes de ses proches qui coïncident amèrement avec le dénombrement innombrable des cadavres et du très lourd bilan matériel. Partout les mêmes questions. Pourquoi tant de morts là où ailleurs un séisme de cette amplitude aurait causé dix à cent fois moins de victimes ? Les causes trouvent-elles leur source dans une quelconque malédiction immémoriale ou découlent-elles de l’appréciation historique de tous ceux qui, depuis 1804, ont occupé les rênes du pouvoir ? Étant entendu que s’il s’agit principalement de mal gouvernance, alors il y a des raisons d’espérer…
L’exercice loin d’être aisé, si tant est qu’il s’agisse d’un exercice ou plutôt d’une catharsis dramaturgique, est planté dans un décor minimaliste composé de bagages et peu d’apparats, entrecoupé par des chants et musiques populaires et traditionnels. Et pourtant, Daniel Marcelin réverbère le temps de la pièce, une gamme d’émotions allant de la tristesse, au malaise, en passant par la colère, l’empathie et les rires.