Nancy Rachel RousseauOn January 16, over 85 organizations pulled together in response to the earthquake that hit Haiti just four days earlier. What is now being referred to as the “Hibernian Miracle” by some was an event that galvanized the humanitarian efforts of over 3,000 people. There is no other way to describe it: the collaborative effort was extraordinarily amazing and overwhelmingly emotional.
Fafa GiraultMarie St. Fleur’s election to the House of Representatives in July 1999 made her the first Haitian-American elected official in Massachusetts. That distinction also makes her planned departure — at the end of the current term next January —significant.
Some will say “ who cares” and “why is this important.” I’ll tell you why: For years she has been our liaison with the government here in Massachusetts. I question if her leaving will create some sort of a gap. Will her leaving inspire someone of Haitian decent to step up to the plate? I know she has definitely inspired me. We as a people have come a long way. Her being a woman of color is a big deal to me. Her being Haitian is an even bigger deal.
I decided to talk to some Haitian Americans between the ages of 18 to 35 to get their views. I asked how her position has impacted them and whether her departure affect our community in any way.
(Updated March 10)- President Obama hosted Haitian President Rene Préval at the White House today (March 10). In a summary of their remarks issued by the White House, President Obama discussed the ongoing American response, warning that "people should be under no illusions that the crisis is over." He added: "The challenge now is to prevent a second disaster" and said, "America’s commitment to Haiti’s recovery and reconstruction must endure and will endure." Full remarks after the break.
The Archdiocese of Boston says it expects that its special collections at local Catholic parishes will net Haiti relief efforts in excess of $2 million. In a statement issued today, Cardinal Seán O'Malley said that the church drive has already collected some $1.7 million— and expects that with 50 parishes still uncounted, that sum will exceed the $2 million mark. The money was raised through parishioner donations since the Jan. 12 earthquake and will be channeled to Catholic Relief Services' efforts on the ground in Haiti. O'Malley is scheduled to travel to Haiti himself next week.
A pair of US Senators — including Massachusetts' own John Kerry, who is Chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee— are urging Western Union and MoneyGram to "eliminate or reduce the fees for money transfers to Haiti through June 2010 after the devastation of last month's earthquake." In a statement issued Tuesday by Kerry's office, the Senator and his colleague Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, were critical of the current fee structure that has been re-instated by the companies after they initially reduced or eliminated fees in the aftermath of Jan. 12.
Congressman toured Haiti capital with eye on troop levels, relief
U.S. Representative Michael Capuano visited Haiti last Friday and says he is encouraged with the progress he witnessed. Capuano, who represents parts of Boston, Cambridge and Somerville in Massachusetts’ Eighth district, joined several other members of Congress to meet with senior U.S. diplomats and military leaders in and around Port-au-Prince.
State Rep. Marie St. Fleur: Will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives this year.Updated Feb. 25— State Rep. Marie St. Fleur, who became the first Haitian-American state elected official ion Massachusetts history in 1999, will not seek re-election to the Massachusetts House of Representative this year. St. Fleur delivered the news to a gathering of Dorchester Democratic party activists on Saturday morning (Feb. 19), according to our sister newspaper, the Dorchester Reporter, which has a full report on her announcement here. St. Fleur did not say what she plans to do after her term expires in January 2011.
Nelson Aquino, a nurse anesthetist from Children’s Hospital Boston, went to Haiti last month with a group of Children’s clinicians as part of a disaster response team. Now, after two weeks back in the United States, he reflects on the life-altering experience in the video above. For many more accounts of the way Children's Hospital Boston has helped respond to the disaster, please check out their blog dedicated to Haiti. Thank you to our friends at Children's Hospital Boston for their ongoing efforts.
More than $500,000 in federal funding will be distributed by state officials in the coming weeks to assist with mental health counseling and other social services related to the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti. According to Gov. Deval Patrick's office, funds "will be used to support activities related to":
• Providing mental health services to those directly affected by the earthquake in Haiti;