As promised we are updating our blog now that our Honors Project cut is finished. The screenings were a success and audience members reacted positively. The feedback and criticism will help us progress to our final version of the film. We have decided not to put the 40-minute cut online and instead wait until we can make the necessary changes for our final cut. We would still like friends of the Ste Trinite family to see this short version of film and to use it for fundraising and events. If you are interested in a copy, please send a donation for the shipping cost.
E-mail us at email@example.com for more information.
In March, during our finals week and spring break we decided to attend the Sustainable Haiti Conference in Miami, and to accompany Professor Anthony in Haiti for a 9 day follow up shoot. Prior to leaving, we worked with Professor Anthony to gather donations of tents, tarps, medicines, radios, flashlights, lightweight fleece blankets and other supplies. The generosity of people in the community made it possible for us to take 7 duffle bags of supplies with us. If you can only help one person, touch one life, it is worth it. This is what the students, teachers, and volunteers who share music in Haiti realize through their work.
The Sustainable Haiti conference took place March 17-19 at the Miami Beach Convention center. There were 39 workshops and panels + over 100 speakers from around the world participated including former Prime Minister Michele Duvivier Pierre-Louis, Minister of the Haitians Living Abroad Edwin Paraison, actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, and musician Richard Morse. We took part in all three days of the conference, listening, talking, and networking. We met some wonderful people, including filmmaker Brian McElroy of the Haiti documentary ‘The Road to Fondwa’, who gave us some great advice and showed interested in the story of music in Haiti. We sat in on an education panel in which they talked a lot about financial support for higher education, the language of education (French, English, Creole, all three?), and technological innovations. But nothing was mentioned about the importance of music, or arts and culture. So I raised this question and gave an example of the documented success of the Venezualen Youth Orchestra program, wondering if they were considering this. Turns out one of the panelists, Maj. Joseph M. Bernadel founded the Toussaint L’Ouverture High School for Arts and Social Justice, and was very interested in the future of arts and culture as a part of Haiti’s development. Much of the conversation was focused on materials, shelter, rebuilding, agricultural development, all VERY important, but I think the voice we brought to the conference reminded people of the value of arts and culture. It was an intense experience. Emotions ran high and sometimes there were budding heads. Some people couldn’t get past their individual identities as missionaries, diaspora, Haitian-born, not hatian-born, but many did.
The one thing the conference clearly lacked was the voice of Haitians themselves. There were individuals, such as Haitian-American Richard Morse who passionately tried to represent them as best he could. The last day concluded in a town hall, a discussion that could have gone on another three days and there is still much to be accomplished. The organizers of the conference created Haiti Onward, a website to continue the dialogue.
After the Sustainable Haiti conference, we left from Miami for Haiti, arriving Saturday morning, March 20. There was something different about it from the moment we got on the plane. About 95% of the people on the flight were white, and it was oddly quiet. Usually the flight is 80-90% Haitians and landing is celebrated with prayers and applause. The airport was changed into a military base, tents and machinery set up outside. We were picked up by Sorel, the driver for Holy Trinity, and we drove straight to the school. When we got to the school, what is left of it, the orchestra was in the middle of a rehearsal. It was all very overwhelming, but then we saw Jeanne, and got a big long hug from Pierro. That was great. Seeing people, talking with them, hugging them, it was starting to feel familiar again, and it was a huge relief seeing with our own eyes that they were okay.
We stayed with one of the members of the Friends of the Orchestra committee, Gladys Lauture. She was a wonderful hostess, and made us very comfortable. She has done so much work helping people post-quake in her neighborhood, and in the SIDA (AIDS) group she works with. We would usually spend part of our days up at the Holy Trinity Annex in Thomasin teaching lessons and rehearsing with the orchestra, who were preparing for a Memorial Concert on March 28th (which we filmed.) So many people Hatians, and non-Haitians, came out to the concert and everyone was very moved by it. We also spent a significant part of the trip documenting Professor Anthony’s work distributing supplies and working with Haitian community leaders like our friends Josué Lolange, Christopher Sand Charles, Felix St. Jean, and others. Josué is a part of a group called Pécheurs d'Âmes in a tent camp in Fontanmara 27 where there were about 3,500 people without access to potable water. Professor Anthony was able to get him in touch with people working for MINUSTAH by e-mail, and then on Thursday the 25th, we took a trip down to the airport UN base hoping to get to talk directly to people. We had good luck getting in, and they were surprisingly willing to help us and talk to us, but unfortunately the resources were not there. The biggest success was being able to register Josué’s group and locate their camp on the map, so now the MINUSTAH cluster groups have better information with which to help. There is so much, so much, to be done, but rubble is being cleared, schools are reopening, and the orchestra is still rehearsing.
Thank you for your interest in this project and we hope this update has given you some insight into our project and the status of the music school. Help is still needed. It is very important to share this story with other people. If you are interested in showing the film to a group, or having us come and talk to a group, we would be more than happy to accommodate you, and we strongly encourage you to e-mail us.