jeudi 12 mai 2011

Austin group gives Haitian orphan second chance at life


Follow: @MorganC_KVUE
Posted on May 11, 2011 at 6:26 PM
AUSTIN, TX - She is thousands of miles from her hometown in Haiti. Wednesday Leonise Louima took her first nap with a healthy heart.
Her story is one of many that hundreds of volunteers make happen in Austin. For the first time in her life, 10-year-old Leonise Louima is living life, without a deadly heart defect.
"She's such a lovely girl," said Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Karen Wright. "She's come in with a beautiful spirit; you could just see it in the smile in her face."
Dr. Wright met a much sicker Leonise Monday at Dell Children's Medical Center. The Austin based Heartgift Foundation flew the orphan from Haiti to Austin for a chance to fix her heart for good.
Leonise suffered from Patent Ductus Arteriosis or P.D.A. It i s a defect usually caught during infancy that leaves a hole in the heart. Leonise's heart was one and a half times larger than a typical 10-year-old's. Every irregular beat brought heart failure closer.
Dr. Wright saved her life Wednesday morning when she inserted a plug through a vein that blocked the hole in her heart. The permanent plug now lets blood flow to all the right places.
Just an hour and a half later, Leonise napped in a hospital bed.
KVUE spoke to her Aunt Shella, the only family Leonise has left, through a Creole translator. She said she was very happy and thanks God.
As Leonise slept, a Creole serenade filled the room and the heart of a girl's life forever changed.
Leonise will spend a week with a host family before returning to Haiti courtesy of the Heart Gift foundation. Since 2000, the group has helped hundreds of children all over the world.

Sponsors for Haitian kids sought

Published Thursday May 12th, 2011 A3By ADAM BOWIE
If you've ever considered sponsoring a child in Haiti, Bernie Zebarth has some stories he'd like to share with you.
Zebarth is the project co-ordinator of Freddy Link's Fredericton-Haiti Community Development Partnership. The program helps establish connections between local citizens and the residents of a Haitian community named Cobocol in collaboration with World Vision.
The local advocacy group will host an information session at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre tonight, giving Zebarth and several volunteers the chance to share stories from a recent trip to Haiti and to explain the impact child sponsorships are having on the devastated Caribbean country's youths.
They'll have Haitian food and music on hand for the free session and they'll also set up a live video conversation with guest speaker Morose Evenel, who will speak on behalf of World Vision Haiti.
Zebarth was one of three local Freddy Link volunteers who travelled to Haiti in January 2010 to visit several development programs in Cobocol.
But the catastrophic earthquake that levelled much of the country's infrastructure, homes, schools, hospitals and businesses happened two hours after they landed, effectively cancelling the group's plans. The volunteers were evacuated two days later.
It wasn't until Feb. 22 that capital region residents Zebarth, Heidi Billington, and Laura Chatterton were able to return with the rest of the team.
This week's event, dubbed Hope For Haiti, will give the volunteers an opportunity to share their experiences with residents who are sponsoring children in Cobocol and to people who are thinking about it.
"Our goal really is to sort of engage the people of Fredericton by having them sponsor children," he said.
"We're up to 58 confirmed sponsorships (from the region). When we went down we actually took gifts from the sponsors to the children. We each had an envelope that we were able to hand directly to the kids, took pictures of them and everything. It's basically to build a relationship."
Zebarth said participants will also receive an update on the work being done with three development programs co-ordinated by World Vision in the Central Plateau region. The projects have unfolded over a 12-15 year period and help Haitian residents establish resources that will improve their health, the quality of their water and sanitation systems, expand educational opportunities and improve their economy.
"A couple of things really impressed me. We were looking to see whether these programs are really effective. We saw lots of evidence of that," he said.
"You could see it in the faces of these children. You could see their joy."
He said the ultimate goal is to create a continuous relationship between local citizens and Haitians.
Hope For Haiti takes place tonight at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre between 6:30-8:30 p.m. People can RSVP by calling 458-8206 ext. 21 so the organizers can prepare enough food.

WHEN THE DREAM IS BEATING...Surprise at Tribeca Festival: Best Film on Haiti Ever

Posted: 05/11/11 03:35 PM ET Crazy
Producers Daniel Morel, Jane Regan with Director  Whitney
Dow and Producer Jen Latham at the World Premiere of
 When The Drum Is Beating at Tribeca. Photo: Tracy Ketcher.

stumble Sitting through the world premiere of When the Drum is Beating at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, I thought to myself, at last: the definitive movie on the real Haiti. The red carpet was far from the abject poverty that is much of Haiti, but the quiet dignity and strength of its people was reflected in the faces of -- in fact, shone from -- the many Haitians attending.

I first arrived in Haiti over Christmas vacation in 2001. I was working on Wall Street and wanted to save the world. I was extraordinarily apprehensive and wrote about my first trip. Ten years later, after having built orphanages in Gonaives and Jacmel, and having almost been killed by a mob there along the way, the earthquake struck and I just wanted to give up.

member Jocelyn "Ti-Bas" Alce in Limbe, Haiti.
Photo: Daniel Morel.
But watching the Haitian people refuse to give up gave me the courage to keep pushing. I have not been able to adequately express to my family and friends, with all of the negative imagery of Hollywood and CNN, my love of Haiti and its people. I tried writing "The Dichotomy of Haiti: Hell Meets, well, Heaven," but it wasn't enough.
Director Whitney Dow the Band Orchestre Septentrional
and Tribeca Programmer David Kwok  at the Q&A after the
World Premiere of When The Drum Is Beating.
Photo: Tracy Ketcher.
The film follows an orchestra -- yawn! -- but trust me on this, this is no ordinary band flick with bus tour. Rather, with gorgeous, vivid colors, the film puts the 63-year-old cultural institution known as Orchestre Septentrional in relation to the entire panorama of Haiti's brutal history up through its earthquake of January 12, 2010 -- and beyond. This movie shows how Haiti survives -- no matter what -- and will one day thrive.
Director Whitney Dow with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Tribeca
Programmer David Kwok at the World Premiere Of
When The Drum Is Beating. Photo: Tracy Ketcher.
Director Whitney Dow (Two Towns of Jasper) has done an outstanding job pulling this film together, and as I attended its world premiere this week at the Tribeca Film Festival, I was overwhelmed that Americans who perhaps don't particularly know Haiti rose to their feet in thunderous and long-last ovation of the 20 member orchestra who attended, as well as the director and the numerous others critical to the film's triumph.
I spoke to Whitney at great length after the film, congratulating him on this masterpiece. He explained to me:
When the Drum is Beating in production in Cap-Haitian.
Photo: Daniel Morel.
I made this film because I wanted to give people a different access point to Haiti, a country that is so often defined by its poverty or political unrest, and saw music as a way in. Most Haitian stories on Haiti are about things that do not work, I wondered if you could learn more about the country by looking at something that had -- a band -- for an incredible 63 years. Plus the music is fantastic. We traveled through Northern Haiti with a trilingual crew, dragging generators, lights and recording equipment, to film these amazing concerts with audiences of up to 25,000 people. It was insane.

Whitney continued: I chose to film in large format HD because I wanted people to viscerally feel what it was like to be in Haiti, a country most often seen in news footage. To truly understand what the band has accomplished by surviving for 63 years, you need to understand the context in which they live their day-to-day lives. I included history because you also need to understand the historical context in which they live.
Septentrional plays in Cap Haitian at a concert celebrating their
59th Anniversary. Photo credit: Tracy Ketcher for STM Productions.
Let's be clear, the earthquake of 2010 was not a natural disaster, but rather a man-made disaster 500 years in the making. A lot of things are responsible for creating a place where 300,000 people could die in a matter of minutes -- colonialism, slavery, foreign intervention and failed homegrown leadership -- this is not a simple story.
Orchestre Septentrional's sensational Jocelyn "Ti-Bas" Alce.
Photo: Daniel Morel.

The film does a terrific job of interpreting Haitian history, moving back and forth in time between the past and present, and gives broad context to the current problems facing the country: from the brutality of early French colonialism and the bloody revolution that brought Haitians their freedom to the crushing foreign debt and the 15-year American occupation that helped usher in the brutal dictatorship of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. We see the hope that was created by the rise of Jean Bertrand Aristide, and the despair that followed the coup that drove him from power.

Director Whitney Dow, legendary Philip Seymour Hoffman
and Oliver Dow of the New Group at the Premiere
of When The Drum Is Beating at Tribeca.
Photo: Tracy Ketcher.

In the words of its production company:
Through its sweeping narrative, infectious music, tension-filled encounters and the musicians' passionate dreams, the film goes to the core of what makes Haiti one of the most fascinating countries in the hemisphere. When The Drum Is Beating allows the viewer to see, feel and hear the passion, commitment and joy of Septentrional's musicians, and through them, the unique Haitian spirit.

When The Drum Is Beating is a feature documentary that interweaves the extraordinary story of Orchestre Septentrional's six decades of creativity with the history of Haiti and how it went from being the first free black republic with a huge wealth of natural resources to a shattered country that cannot support its citizens.
Led by 80-year-old leader, "Maestro" Ulrick Pierre-Louis, whose son I had the privilege to meet at the New York world premiere, Septentrional's trumpeters, drummers, sax players and guitarists have made music through dictatorships, natural disasters, coup d'états and chaos, navigating the ups and downs -- the glory and the tragedy that is Haiti's history.

In a proposal for the film, Whitney wrote:
The orchestra embodies a particular Haitian trait -- the ability to find beauty in places of darkness -- which has helped Haitians survive in a place where nothing seems permanent except poverty and want. As they now face what is perhaps the country's greatest tragedy ever, the earthquake that killed almost 300,000 in January 2010, they must find the strength to go on.

Orchestre Septentrional is one of the longest-lasting
cultural institutions in Haiti today.

Photo courtesy of Orchestre Septentrional.

The music also illustrates the centrality of music in Haitian culture. In addition to Orchestre Septentrional, Ram is one of my favorite groups, influenced by Mizik Rasin. Both groups draw much inspiration from Vodou traditions. Orchestre Septentrional also includes a fusion of Cuban big band.
The story of Septentrional and its continued existence in a place where little survives -- not governments, monuments, art works, cities, lives nor even the very landscape -- is uniquely Haitian.
As the afterparty wore down, Whitney concluded by telling me that, "it was incredibly inspiring to see a group of artists who, in a country where many are looking for their next meal, are working to perpetuate an institution beyond their own participation. This is rare to see anywhere in the world, but extraordinary in a country like Haiti. "
Photo graphic courtesy of Daniel Morel.
Back in college I studied in Japan, teaching English in a junior high school. My university used the institution of the school to serve as a microcosm of Japanese society. I learned more about Japan during that year than in any other year there.
In the exact same way, Whitney has focused his lens on one of the few surviving institutions in Haiti -- Orchestre Septentrional -- and explains Haiti to the viewer in a way that neither condescends nor romanticizes the heaven-and-hell that is Haiti. This film is perhaps the biggest surprise at the Tribeca Festival: it is the best film ever produced about Haiti.

When the Drum is Beating, 2011
84 min , Feature Documentary
In English, Creole with English subtitles
Co-production with Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and produced in association with TV Ontario, with additional funding provided by the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. It is slated for a PBS broadcast in 2012, and was an official selection of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

See Stories by Jim Luce on: Film, Haiti , Music
Follow Jim Luce on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jimluce

IMF to Disburse $13.1 Million to Haiti After Reviewing Policies

By Sandrine Rastello - May 12, 2011 12:56 AM GMT+0200 The International Monetary Fund agreed to disburse $13.1 million to Haiti after reviewing the country’s progress in implementing policies attached to a $60- million loan.
“The Haitian economy is recovering, and just over a year after the devastating earthquake, essential state functions have been reinstated and prudent macroeconomic policies have helped support growth and contain inflation to single-digit levels, IMF Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara said in an e-mailed statement.
The Washington-based IMF last year canceled Haiti’s outstanding debt and approved a new loan to support the country’s effort to rebuild its economy after a January earthquake that killed 300,000 people in the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation.
Shinohara said the economic outlook is favorable if authorities and international financial contributors make ‘‘concerted efforts to accelerate the reconstruction and facilitate the transition from disaster recovery to policies aimed at ensuring high and sustained growth and poverty reduction.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Sandrine Rastello in Washington at srastello@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net.

Clinton says strong leadership needed to rebuild Haiti

The Canadian Press

Date: Thursday May. 12, 2011 6:55 AM ET
ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Bill Clinton says it will take strong leadership and good ideas to help rebuild Haiti, which has struggled to lift itself out of the rubble from last year's devastating earthquake.
The former U.S. president, who is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, was in Nova Scotia on Wednesday to officially open the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership at St. Francis Xavier University.
The centre, named after Clinton's friend and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna, will offer direction on leadership in areas such as public policy, business and health.
Speaking to a well-heeled audience of more than 600 business leaders, academics and alumni, Clinton said there needs to be more institutions that tackle the inequality and instability in the world -- especially so in fragile economies like Haiti.
"All of it begins with someone with an idea, the ability to inspire, the ability to organize, putting other people together and working for a common goal," Clinton said in a 20-minute speech that also touched on climate change and the need for co-operation between governments and business.
It's particularly important for the United States and Canada to act, he said, given the large Haitian populations in both countries.
He applauded a recent move by the parliament in Haiti to grant dual citizenship to the Haitian diaspora. He said it will allow Haitians living in Canada, for example, to vote in an election in their native country.
What's more, he said, Haitians will be able to buy land, start businesses and conduct economic affairs as if they were living in the island nation.
"What will happen is, it will lead to an enormous investment in Haiti and more people, I think, will go home and they will begin to build the kind of systematic opportunities that are important," said Clinton, who is expected to lead the official U.S. delegation to the inauguration this weekend of Haiti's president-elect Michel Martelly.
Clinton also gave examples of leadership he's seen throughout the world. In Rwanda, he noted, every adult is required to help clean city streets one day a month to dispel the notion that poverty leads to uncleanliness.
"If you go to Rwanda, it's shocking what it looks like . . . because of leadership and vision," Clinton told the crowd gathered at the $150-per-plate gala.
Clinton said he's plagued by the thought of those who are denied the chance to explore their leadership potential.
He said the new centre at St. Francis Xavier will help overcome that.
University president Sean Riley said the leadership centre will work alongside the Coady International Institute, which is also located on campus, to train leaders as they help develop more than 100 countries worldwide.
The centre's namesake told reporters that the university has a long history of building leaders, including corporate executives and politicians.
"This campus has been a crucible for leadership formation," said McKenna, a graduate of the school and a one-time Canadian ambassador to the U.S.
McKenna, who is on the school's board of governors, donated $1 million toward the $10-million cost of the centre.

Chaffetz rips U.S. disaster relief efforts

By Matt Canham The Salt Lake Tribune
First published May 11 2011 05:11PM

Washington • House Republicans on Wednesday called U.S. disaster relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti "pathetic" and charged the nation’s foreign assistance agency with failing to track its money appropriately or monitor the results of its efforts.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, led the attack in a House hearing focused on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The hearing was an outgrowth of trips Chaffetz and other House members made to Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq — places where USAID has a major presence. He became frustrated with a lack of information and became convinced the agency had mismanaged its money.
"Americans are paying top dollar for foreign assistance. Unfortunately, the taxpayer is not getting top-dollar results," said Chaffetz, chairman of the House subcommittee on foreign affairs, pointing to USAID’s programs in Haiti where rubble and trash overwhelm many streets and many still have no electricity.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah defended his agency’s response, calling the initial disaster relief effort "tremendous," which included feeding hundreds of thousands of suddenly homeless Haitians and providing medical care. He said the agency has been hampered by bureaucratic delays within the Haitian government and also stressed that progress in Haiti is relative, reminding the congressmen in attendance that it is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
But Chaffetz pointed to reports from the inspector general that said USAID was far behind its own goals for rubble removal and the building of temporary shelters, despite having roughly $1 billion in funds.
"The totality of the U.S. response has been pathetic and disappointing," he said
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told Shah that if this kind of response happened in the United States, he would be fired.
USAID administers $18 billion in foreign assistance and oversees development projects in more than 80 countries, but Afghanistan, Pakistan and Haiti accounted for more than one-fourth of its budget in fiscal year 2010 in large part because of the war and natural disasters.
Story continues below Matheson pitches tax holiday for foreign capital
Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the subcommittee, said he fully supports the agency and noted that U.S. military leaders have repeatedly argued that the "soft power" of foreign assistance is vital to bolstering security in these countries. He said he hoped the hearing wasn’t part on an effort to cut USAID funding because "those proposed cuts, I think, are shortsighted. Aid is the key to building stronger sovereign governments that can support their own people."
But Tierney said there were also "disconcerting levels of waste, fraud and abuse" as well as "a lack of vision and focus" in programs in these war-torn and earthquake-ravaged nations.
"USAID’s mission is so important we simply cannot afford to make these same mistakes again," Tierney said.
He complimented Shah for implementing a series of reforms meant to streamline its contracting process and improve its ability to track program results by relying on independent auditors.
Chaffetz seized on a comment from the inspector general at USAID, who said the agency had repeatedly exaggerated the results of its aid programs in more than one-third of its audits.
"This is a staggering observation," he said, providing examples such as a program that purported to benefit 260,000 people, but only treated 100 victims with a specific medical problem. "In many ways, this is blatant fraud."
He said the bottom line is if the agency can’t accurately report on the impacts of its programs then it is not managing its money appropriately.
Shah said the agency is in the process of improving its record keeping but suggested that it faces significant problems in the countries Chaffetz has focused on because they are dangerous places.
USAID is working hard to ensure we spend every tax dollar in the most effective, efficient and transparent way we can, even under constraints or threats of violence," Shah said in his written comments.

Preval leaving office in Haiti after serving through major disasters

By JACQUELINE CHARLES - McClatchy Newspapers E-Mail PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti He survived two presidential terms, armed gangs, back-to-back major storms and food riots. In the end, one of the world's worst natural disasters rendered him powerless.
"It changed everything," President Rene Preval said about the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake in an interview for a Miami Herald documentary last year.
As Preval, 68, prepares to exit Haiti's broken National Palace and hand over the presidential sash - for the second and final time - on Saturday, he heads into the history books as the only president in 207 years to have been twice democratically elected and to complete his terms. He is also the only president to peacefully hand power to the opposition, also democratically elected.
All are no small feat in this unpredictable nation that has seen almost three dozen coup d'etats, foreign occupations and presidents jailed, exiled and even killed.
"It is sad that I am the only president to have done a first term, then a second constitutional mandate, and also the only one in 25 years not having been in prison or exile," Preval said last month in his final address before the U.N. Security Council.
Still, the man who broke rank with Haiti's history of oppression and brought press freedom and a measure of political stability after his 2006 re-election, is leaving with mix reviews.
"With Rene Preval, we didn't go backward. Yes, we didn't go as far as we wanted, but we moved ahead," said Georges Sassine, head of a Preval created commission that increased employment in Haiti's garment industry by attracting foreign companies.
Rivals and supporters alike commend Preval with depolarizing Haitian society, establishing governments of national unity and creating a political center. But they criticize his reclusive personality, low-key leadership style and lack of communication with the country's 10 million citizens.
"He has no spokesman, no chief of staff. I still don't know who his chief of staff is," said Sen. Steven Benoit, one of his chief critics in parliament and his former brother-in-law. "If you have done something for the country, let people know what you've done."
Preval has refused all interview requests to discuss his legacy until after Saturday's inauguration of retired musician Michel Martelly, who was elected last month.
Preval's only public acknowledgement of his accomplishments came in October during a visit to Marchand Dessalines, a rural town north of the quake-ravaged capital, in the Artibonite Valley. Rice and beans production had doubled, he said, because of his government's investments of millions for new agriculture equipment, and in fertilizer for poor rural farmers. The number of Haitians with access to electricity had also increased. Government receipts had doubled.
"In 2006, we had (60 miles) of asphalted roads, today it is (360 miles), six times," he said, highlighting one of the few promises he dared make as Haiti stood on the brink of collapse after he took office.
By reviving the state construction company, he further opened up Haiti, adding almost 1,243 miles more in new and rebuilt rural roads. For the first time, farmers could get their produce to market. The changes, along with patched up relations with the Dominican Republic and Caribbean Community, have not gone unnoticed by the international community. The top U.N. envoy in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, says "history will put Rene Preval under a positive light."
"During his administrations, the freedom of the press was without limits, never a 'message,' never a threat, never an order to silence anyone," Mulet said. "With no economic or financial ambitions of his own, he was not involved in corruption schemes. A gentleman, a romantic, a decent person."
But Preval had his shortcomings, Mulet said, describing his "attitude against talking to the people, even when Haitians were eager to have a leader at the helm of the country after the earthquake."
Yet, he had an obsession with dialogue, taking his time - to the frustration of friends and foes alike - to make decisions. That and his trademark silence were often misunderstood by the international community as trickery or an inability to govern. For instance, when he was asked for plots of land to build large camps for the earthquake victims, he allowed weeks to go by and was extensively criticized for his "inability to act."
It was his way of saying that large camps were not the solution to the problem of displacement as seen by the humanitarian agencies.
Critics say a weakness of his tenure was his dislike or lack of confidence in institutions and not doing enough to strengthen them. An enigma, he is smart but not your stereotypical intellect, equally able to convince gang leaders to disarm as make diplomats feel inept.
He's a pre-eminent behind-the-scenes politician, though he detests being called one.
But his political maneuvering cost him the confidence of supporters, including two prime ministers - he's now on his third. And it cost him the support of the international community, which engaged in a months-long public battle with him over the recently flawed presidential and legislative elections.
The electoral crisis "stained his image," said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia.
"He was also a prisoner of Haiti's dependence on outside powers, a dependence that became overwhelming in the aftermath of January 12th," said Fatton, who calls him "unlucky."
"Preval gradually lost both the means to govern the country and the support of the great powers he had previously enjoyed," Fatton said.
It wasn't until he attempted to name his own successor, former state construction chief Jude Celestin, that it became clear how much Preval had fallen out of favor with the international community.
The international community had already decided it would "do everything to facilitate change of the Haitian political system," said Ricardo Seitenfus, the former Organization of American States representative here. "It was tired of the supposed inability of Preval to govern."
At one point, there was even a suggestion of sending an aircraft to fly Preval out of the country, a move Seitenfus spoke up against.
No one, not even close friends, are sure what Preval will do. He's been in politics for 25 years and the political coalition INITE, which he created with three opposition leaders, is the largest force in parliament. On Monday, parliament handed him another victory by adopting his constitutional reform measures that among other things recognizes dual nationality for Haitians living abroad.
And while some believe he opposes Martelly, a friend, privately he has said he wants him to succeed for the sake of Haiti.
As he bid farewell in his U.N. speech, he called on the opposition to adopt an attitude of collaboration and had this advice for Martelly: "Practice calming governance, openness, inclusiveness, dialogue, respect for rights of association and expression."
Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/05/12/2011299/preval-leaving-office-in-haiti.html#ixzz1M8xDEfUx