Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti

Hey all Happiness readers, it's been a while since my last post and for that I apologize. Unfortunately, I am not here today to write a post about any new music or the like (although there's plenty I do have to write about, eventually..). More importantly, I am writing concerning the recent earthquake in Haiti. The following is a letter I put together to distribute around where I live, and I figured I'd put it up here as well. PLEASE take a minute to read it over, and please consider donating towards the cause.

Dear friends, relatives, and neighbors,

As many of you know (and many of you have so graciously supported), I have spent a great deal of time in the Dominican Republic both providing health care for Haitian refugees and working on construction projects such as houses and hospitals for these people whom the Dominican government has a tendency to ignore. Today I write to you again for your support, although it is not for any trip in which I will be participating. Rather, I am writing on behalf of those who will be working on disaster relief projects in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, which was recently struck by a major earthquake.

Haiti, already the poorest nation by far in the Western Hemisphere, has no infrastructure of which to speak. They have no disaster relief services or building codes, limited communication with the outside world, and hospitals that are understaffed, underfunded, and overrun with sick Haitians. This earthquake has razed many buildings, including at least one hospital, rendering the nation largely incapable of responding to a tragedy of this magnitude. They are depending on outside support, primarily from the United States, to fund rescue operations and begin what will surely be a long process towards recovery.

Since my work in the Dominican Republic, I have been involved primarily with two organizations. The mission statement of one of these organizations, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, is as follows:

“To work with the people of Haiti in their non-violent struggle for the return and consolidation of human rights conditions in Haiti, pursuing legal cases, and cooperating with human rights and solidarity groups in Haiti and abroad.

More information about the Institute can be found at

****The other—and certainly the one who is in need of the most support given the circumstances—is called Partners in Health. They work to offer health care and provide disaster relief for the poor around the world, although the majority of their work is conducted in Haiti. This organization was founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, a recognized leader in the field of preferential health care for the poor, and whose work deserves as much recognition and support as possible. It is on his behalf and on behalf of Partners in Health, an organization I personally trust and support, that I write to you today. Please take a moment and visit for more information about the organization and to donate towards their cause. Online donations are accepted, as well as checks with "Haiti Earthquake Relief" in the memo line mailed to Partners In Health, P.O. Box 845578, Boston, MA 02284-5578.***

From my experience, it is not that people are unwilling to give, it is that they are unsure where to begin or where their support will actually go. I assure you that this organization, along with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, are worth supporting and will put your donations, no matter the size, to good use. Of course there are hundreds of other ways to support the voiceless in Haiti, all of which I encourage you and your friends/relatives/neighbors to consider. Together their voices can be heard instead of ignored, and together we can answer the Haitian people’s plea for support. I thank you in advance for your support.


Conor Smith


I guess some tunes can't hurt, eh?

Here's a link to Grammy award winning Haitian musician Pras Michel's myspace, as well as a link to the Rhapsody site for Haitian rapper, Wyclef Jean. Also, here's a link to Wyclef's blog as well as his twitter- both are quite active right now.

Also, check out "Haiti" by Arcade Fire, off their 2004 release Funeral. One of the members of Arcade Fire, Régine Chassagne, is originally from Haiti. This song has been described as an elegy to her homeland which, in 2004, she describes as "wounded". One wonders what she would say now. Chances are we will hear quite soon, as the BBC music news reports they are in fact in the studio with music producer Markus Dravs, with an album scheduled to drop in 2010 as well as a followup tour.

Here are the lyrics..with a translation of the French parts.

Haiti, my country wounded mother I’ll never see.
My family set me free.Throw my ashes into the sea.

My cousins never haunt
the nights of Duvalier.Nothing stops our spirits.
Guns can’t kill what soldiers can’t see.

In the forest we are hiding,unmarked graves where flowers grow.
Hear the soldiers angry yelling,
in the river we will go.

All of the deaths do not form an army,
soon we will reclaim the earth.All the tears and all the bodies
bring about our second birth.

Haiti, never free,
have no fear to sound the alarm.Your children are leaving,
in those days their blood was still warm

And here's the link to all twitters about Haiti, and a bunch of real time photographs. Also, give via phone - text "HAITI" to "90999" to give $10 directly to Red Cross for disaster relief

At right is a photo I took on one of my trips to the Dominican of a few young Haitian refugees living in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican. Plus, the video for Arcade Fire's "Haiti" is below, courtesy of Youtube.

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