My buddy Jeff Tafolla, who works with Saddle Creek, called me today and asked me to share a few words about Haiti. He knows (as I know some of you do) of the close relationship I’ve had with Haiti for several years now. My first solo record “Invisible Ones” was directly influenced by time spent there…even the title is an homage to this place I’ve grown to love so much.
The last few days have been intense: alternating between despair over the tragedy, hope that my friends are okay, relief when the news comes of those that have survived, and grief over the ones who haven’t.
I’m still waiting to hear news of many friends in Port-au-Prince, and points beyond.
I first went to Haiti in 2003 with my husband Todd, extremely curious but not knowing what to expect. What I encountered there truly changed my life…spiritually, academically, artistically, and in ways I’m not sure I can even articulate. I know that Haiti is a place of tremendous extremes, but what I’ve also come to understand is how the depth of it’s poverty and oppression is matched by the spirit of it’s people.
I returned for my second visit in 2006, bringing along my friend the artist Chris Lawson. We traveled to different parts of the country, meeting people and learning as much as we could about Haiti’s history, culture, and art.
In 2007, Chris, Todd, and I returned to collaborate with twelve Haitian artists on an art project/exhibition. It was an amazing experience, sponsored by an equally amazing non-profit arts organization called FOSAJ. FOSAJ is located in the port town of Jacmel.
Just yesterday we learned that the town of Jacmel was devastated by the earthquake. We also learned that the director of FOSAJ, the uber-talented artist Flo McGarrell, died tuesday when the Peace of Mind Hotel in Jacmel collapsed. I am personally overwhelmed with grief.
Yet despite my profound sadness, what I also need to share with you is my abiding belief in the love, wisdom, beauty and magic that lies (often undiscovered) in this much maligned country.
We all know of the suffering that Haiti has struggled against. Haiti has been hit again and again with political instability, corrupt governments (and yes that has included U.S. policies and actions), oppression by their own leaders, and horrific natural disasters. Haiti has often needed the help of the world, and the world has often turned the other way.
But they have never needed us more than at this moment in time and history. 50% of the nation is under the age of 21…hundreds of thousands of the injured and dead are children. They are our neighbors and they need our help.
I’m personally asking you to make a donation. Perhaps the best thing we’re realizing about social networking is that, in a time like this, it is so easy to give, and small amounts definitely do make a difference…especially when everybody gives something.
From the bottom of my heart I thank-you,
The free Invisible Ones download has expired. Thanks to everyone who donated to the relief effort.
Text the word “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5 to Yele Haiti or text the word “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross.
© 2014 Orenda Fink