Jan 11, 2012

Karen Keating Ansara of The Haitian Fund at The Boston Foundation, was the keynote speaker at the Jan. 7 gala dinner hosted by Haitian-Americans United, Inc.

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Jan 11, 2012

Patrick SylvainPatrick SylvainTwo hundred and eight years ago, brave Haitians declared an end to slavery, giving birth to a new nation where each person was a human being. Tout moun se moun. This move advanced the notion of human rights for the first time in modern history, and was a vast departure from the values that were held in high regard during French colonial rule.

While at its inception, the revolutionary ideals of the newly formed nation called Haiti held great promise, the reality as understood today detracts from this plesant image. Still, our rituals and their symbolic associations mirror these revolutionary ideals. For example, soup joummou, the New Year’s and Independence Day celebratory pumpkin soup, signifies the communion of equals through the consumption of the once forbidden delicacy reserved for the colonial masters. Today, as family and friends gather around the dinner table, we are clearly proud of our freedom and accomplishments, yet know that there are countless Haitians who are hungry, sleeping under tents. Two hundred and eight years after independence, many Haitians live in abject poverty and have no rights as humans.

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Dec 19, 2011

Emeline Michel performs at Harvard on Nov 18Emeline Michel performs at Harvard on Nov 18Nedgine Paul, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), has admired Emeline Michel’s music since she was a child.

“My passion for raising awareness about Haiti included inviting friends and colleagues to attend Emeline’s performances,”
said Paul.

When HGSE for Haiti decided to organize the Haiti Arts and Awareness Event to commemorate the historic Battle of Vertieres, the last victory before the Haitian independence, they invited Emeline Michel to perform on Nov. 18. The core theme of the event was the Haitian motto L’Union Fait La Force, In Unity there is Strength.

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Dec 12, 2011

Lyonel Traversiere's favorite proverb on responsibility: 21 an, pa 21 jou (21 years is not 21 days)Lyonel Traversiere's favorite proverb on responsibility: 21 an, pa 21 jou (21 years is not 21 days)On Nov. 16, Wheelock College hosted its annual Passion for Action Leadership Award Dinner. The event benefits Wheelock’s Passion for Action Scholarship program for students committed to service and the scholarship program awards $20,000 for four years. Since 2007, three to five students of each incoming first-year class are designated Passion for Action Scholars. The program provides leadership development, calls for a domestic service project and offers an international service opportunity. Students have worked in Ghana, Benin, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala.

“Service is a part of our culture, curriculum, college ethos,” said Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president of Wheelock College. “At Wheelock, its core to who we are…as an institution.”

Lyonel Traversiere, 21, is one of the Passion for Action scholars.

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Dec 12, 2011

Fresh from a statePrime Minister Garry Conille (AP)Prime Minister Garry Conille (AP) visit to Cuba, President Michel Martelly hosted a “Invest in Haiti” conference in Port-au-Prince that attracted some 500 foreign visitors and investors earlier this month. Flanked by former US President Bill Clinton and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Luis Alberto Moreno, Martelly broke ground on a free-trade zone in  the northeast of Haiti backed by US, IDB and South Korean funds that  at its peak  would employ some 20,000 assembly factory workers.

And the good news kept being rolled out at the conference: a Marriott-managed, Digicel-owned 150-room hotel in Port-au-Prince by 2013; a 250-room hotel near the country’s international airport by 2014; a 60-bed travelers hotel by 2012 — this one built with Haitian capital — also near the airport.

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Dec 9, 2011

Jean Appolon leads dance class in Cambridge.Jean Appolon leads dance class in Cambridge.Jean Josue Appolon grew up in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, where he began to dance at the age of 13. He began his training under the instruction of the iconic choreographer Viviane Gauthier. He performed with her dance company and the Folkloric Ballet of Haiti. At first he would lie to his family about where he was going because dance was generally frowned upon.

“I used to say I was going to play volleyball,” said Appolon. “They even had my uncle follow me one time, to dance class. My family was against dance for many reasons, but mostly because they didn’t think you could make a real living. It’s not a real profession.”

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Dec 8, 2011

BHR 12-11: Click here to download our latest edition.BHR 12-11: Click here to download our latest edition.On May 8, 2011, Haitian lawmakers voted – by an overwhelming majority – to amend the article in the constitution that would do away with the law that bans dual citizenship. This meant an estimated 4 million Haitians living abroad would finally have a say in the political process in Haiti. In addition to voting rights, they would be able to run for lower levels of office, among other rights granted through this amendment of the 1987 constitution.

For many Haitians living abroad who provided economic support of loved ones which bolstered Haiti’s economy for many years, this was welcomed news. Dual citizenship remained an unlikely possibility until major political strides were made in the last year – due mostly to the significant role the diaspora played in the aftermath of the earthquake. Political, private sector, civil society leaders acknowledged that Haiti would need its diaspora to rebuild.

However, dual citizenship has yet to become law in Haiti.

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Dec 5, 2011

Sonia Pierre, photographed in 2007 by Ramon Espinosa (AP)Sonia Pierre, photographed in 2007 by Ramon Espinosa (AP)SANTO DOMINGO _ Sonia Pierre, a human rights activist who bravely fought discrimination against poor Dominicans of Haitian descent since she was a child, died Sunday, according to colleagues. She was 48.

The renowned activist died outside of the municipality of Villa Altagracia while being rushed to a hospital after suffering a heart attack around noon Sunday, said Genaro Rincon, a lawyer who works with Pierre's Dominican-Haitian Women's Movement.

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Dec 2, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE _ The World Bank will spend $255 million to help house Haitians, clean up neighborhoods and send thousands of children to school over the next year under a plan approved Thursday by the agency's board.

The new funds seek to fill critical needs in Haiti as the troubled nation nears the second anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake that toppled thousands of homes, destroyed hundreds of schools and force more than a million Haitians into precarious settlements in the capital and elsewhere.

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Nov 21, 2011

On Saturday evening, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston welcomed "a contemporary vision" of Haiti as Aksyon, a New York-based diaspora group, hosted a benefit gala featuring a performance by Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean. Roughly 500 attendees enjoyed a showcase of cuisine from celebrity chef Todd English and fashions by prominent Haitian designers Prajje, Jeff Lahens and Dayanne Danier.

Proceeds from the event benefit Aksyon’s initiatives in tourism, permanent housing and educational programs. The group's goal is to promote economic development with a focus on art, design, and fashion.

“We wanted to ensure that we organized an event that showed a different side of Haitian culture," said Reggie Canal, gala chair and board member. “Aksyon is here to promote Haiti as a positive brand.”

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Nov 18, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE _ Haiti's capital has seen a significant drop in homicide rates in recent years despite a public perception that the poor Caribbean country is rife with crime and violence, two social scientists said Wednesday.

In addition, most Haitians view the national police force favorably and see no need to bring back the disbanded army, according to the preliminary findings of a study shared with The Associated Press.

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Nov 10, 2011

On November 20, Boston will host the first annual Haiti Movie Awards. This celebration is organized by the Motion Picture Association of Haiti (MPAH), which is run by movie enthusiast, Hans Patrick Domercant. Boston-based MPAH works to help further develop and bring structure to the burgeoning Haitian movie industry.

More recently, the movie industry has been slow to recover after the Jan. 2010 earthquake. According to MPAH, very few movies have been produced in the last two years and morale has been generally low. Domercant hopes to change that with this year’s Haiti Movie Awards.

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Nov 10, 2011

November edition of the ReporterNovember edition of the Reporter
“We’re like a family.” That’s how the staff at Sant Belvi, (Good Life Center, in English,) describes their relationship with their clients. Some might say that the Dorchester-based center sometimes does a better job caring for their clients than their real families. The organization is also known as the Haitian Adult Day Health Center. Through the center, clients receive individualized services that meet their social, emotional and medical needs in a caring, dignified and respectful manner. Cultural responsiveness is at the heart of all interactions, activities and programs. Indeed, the spacious gathering area is warmly decorated with beautiful Haitian arts and crafts.

Seated at a desk at the entrance of the lobby, Lourdes Almonacy, one of the program assistants, greets visitors with a warm, welcoming smile. Most of the men and women are seated comfortably in armchairs and sofas watching a Haitian news program.

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Nov 4, 2011

This week, the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security urging Secretary Janet Napolitano to create a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program. The lawmakers join Governor Deval Patrick and most of the Mass. congressional delegation in this call for humanitarian parole for Haitians who have already been approved to come to the US.

“As representatives of the state containing the third largest population of Haitians and Haitian Americans, we are deeply concerned about the precarious status of many Haitian children, elders and families as they wait in Haiti to be reunited with their families in the United States,” the caucus wrote.

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Oct 27, 2011

The Dorchester Reporter's latest overview of the Boston city council race provides context to an election that features strong personalities and unlikely allegiances.

"...Flaherty’s entrance radically re-jiggered a municipal election since in many parts of the city the seven-person at-large field will be the only item on the ballot. Dorchester, with an open district seat for the first time in nearly two decades, is one of the exceptions. Voters will get to pick a district councillor and fill in four slots for City Council At-Large.

Most political observers are predicting a citywide voter turnout of 12 percent – barely one in 10 voters – and an election similar to 2007. That was the year City Councillor At-Large Felix D. Arroyo was knocked off the council by West Roxbury’s John Connolly.

But it’s unclear who will be clearing out their desks come January, if Flaherty manages to get back on the council."

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Oct 26, 2011

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation are urging the Obama administration to expedite humanitarian parole for approved Haitian petitioners.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, along with Representatives Edward Markey, Barney Frank, John Olver, Jim McGovern, Stephen Lynch and Michael Capuano, ask that the DHS grant entry into the U.S. for beneficiaries of already approved family-based immigration petitions.

The individuals in question have already been approved, but remain in Haiti because Legal Permanent Residents, who have the right to petition for spouses and children, face a delay of as long as five years before families can be reunited. There are 105,000 Haitian beneficiaries – of which 16,000 are children and spouses – who are ready to come to the United States.

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Oct 19, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE _ Haiti has the highest rate of cholera in the world a mere year after the disease first arrived in the Caribbean nation, a leading health expert said Tuesday.

Dr. Paul Farmer, one of the founders of the medical group Partners in Health and U.N. deputy special envoy to Haiti, said cholera has sickened more than 450,000 people in a nation of 10 million, or nearly 5 percent of the population, and killed more than 6,000.

Farmer told The Associated Press on the anniversary of cholera’s arrival in Haiti that it’s also on the verge of becoming the leading cause of death by infectious disease in the Caribbean nation.

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Oct 17, 2011

On Thursday, October 20, social service advocates host a meeting to address continuing needs and challenges faced in the community after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. Local officials will tackle a host of issues such as immigration, housing, education and job training for the displaced.

This community meeting will take place at the Boston Baptist Missionary Church, 336 Dudley Street in Roxbury, from 6-8 pm. Featured speakers include Anny Jean-Jacques Domercant from the Governor's Office of Community Affairs, Vivie Hengst from the Office of Immigrants and Refugees, Robert Pulster from the Department of Housing and Community Development, and Dennis Riordan from the Boston branch of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

For more information, contact Keke Fleurissaint at 617-296-6000 or Jean Vatelia at 617-866-3633.

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Oct 12, 2011

A new charter public school has opened its doors in Boston with a unique focus — immigrant families. It is the bay state’s first school that specifically focuses their efforts on English Language Learners and one of the first charters in the country to do so.

MATCH Community Day Charter Public School began its first school year with 100 pre-K and 2nd grade students from across the city. 70% of the students come from families whose native language is not English. This high rate is a result of robust community-based outreach.

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Oct 7, 2011

BHR October 2011: Click to download full PDF of this month's edition.BHR October 2011: Click to download full PDF of this month's edition.Haitians are sometimes baffled when I tell them that I do not speak Creole (Kreyòl); rather, that I speak Haitian, the language of a politically and culturally established independent nation. Once I explain my position, they either agree with my reasoning or they completely reject it, and revert to their default beliefs. For many Haitians, the ‘Creole’ notion is a significant problem, and it is old.

The entire Caribbean region became a constructed space once the Spanish colonizers who decimated the original inhabitants brought in West African slaves. Shaped by European economic needs, the region became an initiate of the first systematic process of globalization, linking the “New World” to new markets – a system entrenched to the point that a restructuring the physical landscape of the region was rendered. Differentiated social class structures were established as the aristocratic Spaniards (who wanted to distinguish themselves from the various grades of descendants born in the colonies) referred to colony-born Spanish descendants as “Criollos”.

From the outset, the term “Criollo” became a social marker for otherness, describing un-pure Spaniards. As other European countries joined the colonial quest, they too applied the Spanish term to their own descendants. “Criollo” became “Criole” for the French during their conquests of the Americas in the early 1600’s.

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