Philadelphia community celebrates love, hope for Haiti

By Danielle Alio
March 14, 2010

photo by Danielle Alio

At an event held on March 7, at Grover Washington Middle School in the Olney section of Philadelphia, many Haitian citizens as well as Haitian-Americans gathered together for a fund-raising concert.  The event was hosted by the Haitian Community Help Center and consisted of influential speakers and leaders of the Haitian community, singers, poets and politicians who attended to show their support.

The president of the Haitian Community Help Center, Emmanuel Polection, opened the event with a speech about his hopes for Haiti’s future and the constant reminder that the disaster will not just go away.

“I’d like to take a special opportunity to remind the members of the Haitian community to remain vigilant.  We understand that when the media is no longer covering Haiti, when other things will become the center of attraction for the world, we, as Haitians, will need to stay strong and determined to continue the daily challenge as well as do our best to transform the face of our country,” Polection said.

Polection stated that the help center is setting two goals for the future.  The first goal will be an effort to send a group of volunteers to Haiti as soon as possible with the money raised from the Haitian community in Philadelphia.  The second goal will be to establish a help center in Haiti.  The help center will provide psychological help to families who fell victim to the earthquake.  Polection wants to send professionals in mental health to Haiti at least four times a year in order to train other Haitian professionals in mental health to open up the opportunity for more jobs in the country.

Some of the attendees of the event dressed in the colors of Haiti and carried their country’s flag in a parade to build the energy in the room.  The members of the audience erupted into a thunderous applause every time hope for the future of Haiti was mentioned and every time plans to help Haiti were set into place.

Performers were at the event to provide inspirational and hopeful music to the Haitian community.  Some were small bands and others were solo performances. Gospel artist Paul Polection sang a song in which the English translation of the title is “Haiti is on a Hospital Bed.” The song had the upbeat Caribbean feel with words of a very deep meaning.

Among all of the guest speakers were some religious leaders of the Haitian community in Philadelphia.  Rev. Christian Cesar, pastor of the Haitian Evangelical Baptist Church, spoke about the many who have died and the over 1 million homeless.

“It is up to you,” Cesar said. “Don’t let our country die. Let’s love one another in the body of Christ.”

Bishop Herve Vincent, pastor of a Pentecostal church in Philadelphia, said, “It’s time to get our heads together. This was a wake up call for all of us.”  Vincent emphasized the importance of joining together to build a new city for the people of Haiti since they have no place to sleep.

Vincent also expressed gratitude for what the United States has done with sending aid to Haiti.  “Don’t say that America is a bad country.  When you say that America is a bad country, you are placing a spell upon yourself.  America is a good country. Just like every country has a good and bad side. We ask you to pray for America, just like you pray for Haiti.  Love America, just like you love Haiti.  Stand for America just like you stand for Haiti because America is doing good things on our behalf,” Vincent said.

Those in attendance had in common that the disaster affected each of their lives in one way or another.  One member of the Haitian community, Yva Jean-Louis, said, “It was a disaster.  It was very very, very sad.  Many, many people died.  I lost family members.  I lost cousins.  I lost uncles.  We don’t know what is going on because it is not only in Haiti.  It’s like almost all over the world.  Like right after Haiti there was many more earthquakes not only in Haiti. So it is very devastated and we don’t know where to begin to start doing things.  We just hope that things are going to get better.  We hope everybody is okay and we keep praying.”

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Danielle Alio

Danielle Alio
Cabrini College '12
The Loquitur Manging Editor
LOQation Executive Producer
WYBF FM - On Air DJ/Assistant Production Director
Cabrini College Theater-Stage Crew/Actress

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