Cine Institute Update (3/12/2010)

By Bryan Schaaf on Monday, April 12, 2010.

The Cine Institute is Haiti's only film school.  Its students have produced everything from commericals to documentaries.  The Institute, which is in Jacmel, took heavy losses during the earthquake but continued to operate. The students produced video reports, assisted visiting journalists, and helped distribute relief supplies.  Click here to see video clips of the students in action and reporting on the earthquake's consequences for Jacmel.  As Annie Nocenti, a Cine Institute instructor puts it, "We were a film school until yesterday. Our new mission is to do recovery stories...hopefully stories of Haitians rebuilding."  Below is a thank you letter from the Institute to its partners.
 

 

'Hope in Haiti': Orphans Caputre a Hopeful Future (2/25/2011)

News Times
By Scott Gargan
.
In the aftermath of Haiti's catastrophic earthquake last year, the Western press bombarded the airwaves with images of death, destruction and chaos. But amid the rubble, orphans armed with disposable cameras captured a much different Haiti -- one in which children smiled, danced and played. "There's an innocence, an openness to the pictures," said Helen Klisser During, who distributed disposable Fuji Film cameras to 50 children at the Carma House Orphanage near Leogâne, Haiti. "You see the living conditions, but you also see the hope and resilience." Brought to Connecticut from the epicenter of the earthquake, the images will be on view as part of "Hope in Haiti," a new exhibition at the Westport Arts Center. An opening reception and sale of work will take place on Friday, March 4, to benefit the Carma Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs the orphanage. Taken three months after the disaster, the images offer a rare glimpse through the lens of Haiti's most vulnerable residents. Rolls of film reveal photos of kids playing outside makeshift tents and huts, mothers holding and nursing their children, and faces beaming in the soft glow of the afternoon sun. Structures like Carma House Orphanage, which crumbled during the earthquake, come into view incidentally. It is telling that the children pointed their cameras at each other, rather than the devastation surrounding them, said Klisser During, director of visual arts at the WAC and curator of "Hope in Haiti." "They took photos of people and faces, cats and dogs, the day to day," she said. "The orphanage is a stone's throw away from a tent city . . . but they chose to focus on positive things." The exhibit includes 89 pictures by Carma House orphans, alongside Klisser During's post-quake images of Port-au-Prince, and light boxes featuring colorful photos of Haitian tap tap buses by London photographer Elizabeth Jordan.
.
In the WAC Studio Gallery, there will be a selection of photographs from Bridgeport Animal Control taken by students at Staples High School. Entitled "Dog Show," the exhibit will raise awareness on the importance of adoption and the issues surrounding shelter conditions. By Klisser During's account, the trip to Haiti was a "whirlwind." The journey began last March, during an exhibition of her friend, Jordan's photographs at New York University. It was there that she met Melky Jean, a friend of Jordan's and the sister of Haitian hip hop star, Wyclef Jean. Jordan and Jean, the founder of Carma Foundation, invited Klisser During to accompany them on a trip to the orphanage. She enthusiastically accepted. "I thought, `what could I give?'" she recalled, just before stepping on a plane bound for the small island nation. "What's most precious to me is taking pictures, capturing a moment and treasuring that." Inspired by Zana Briski's 2004 documentary "Born Into Brothels," Klisser During gave out the cameras to the Carma House orphans and asked them to document their lives. None of them had ever used a camera before. The idea meshed with Jean, the daughter of Haitian immigrants who established Carma Foundation to promote development on Haitian terms. She also thought it would be a great way "to show the world that there is hope in Haiti." "You look at the smiles of the kids in these photos and you see they are no different from the kids smiling in New York," Jean said. "There are children living in these dire circumstances, but they're still finding a way to smile." As Klisser During discovered during her trip to Port-au-Prince, that sense of hope wasn't confined to the Carma House orphanage. Despite the death, destruction and chaos, people across the Haitian capital had still found a way to smile, too.
.
"When you drive through Port-au-Prince, you see the Legislative Palace is collapsed, no one is clearing trash, no one is clearing rubble -- it's so close to chaos," she said. "But when you meet the people one on one, there is still that innocence, that hope. I tried to tell that story." The Westport Arts Center is at 51 Riverside Ave. "Hope in Haiti" is on view Friday, March 4 through Sunday, May 8. An opening reception will be held Friday, March 4 at 6 p.m. Viewing hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday noon-4 p.m. 203-222-7070, www.westportartscenter.org.
.
"Hope in Haiti" events:
.
- Vital Voices Connecticut Council presents Haitian activist and entrepreneur Phelicia Dell on Sunday, March 13 at 4 p.m.
.
- WACky Family Day, "Music from All Cultures" on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m.
.
- Storytelling: "Gimme Shelter" on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m.
.
- Westport Cinema Initiative Film Screening: "Wasteland" on Saturday, March 26 at 1 p.m. at the Westport Country Playhouse.
.
- AmeriCares CEO Curt Welling presents "Restoring Hope in Haiti" on Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m.

Cine Institute Clips To Be Screened at 2010 Woodstock Festival

"On Oct 3 at 11:30 am, 15 short films produced and filmed by the students of Cine Institute in Jacmel will be screened as part of the Woodstock Film Festival."
http://www.woodstockfilmfestival.com/festival2010/films.php?p_id=513

Struggle and Triumph for Haiti's Ciné Institute (5/10/2010)

On January 12th, Haiti’s only professional film school, Ciné Institute, lost its main building in the massive earthquake that devastated the Port-au-Prince region. But in the quake’s aftermath, Ciné Institute's students and staff have found something just as substantial as bricks and mortar — namely, a profound story they are uniquely qualified to tell.
.
Since the quake, Ciné Institute students have been documenting the experiences of the people of Jacmel, the southern port city where the institute is based, in a series of powerful news clips and short documentaries posted on their website. Their work has also aired on CNN, PBS, and the CBC. A small city known for its picturesque colonial architecture and its vibrant arts scene, Jacmel is located just 25 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince — and less than 15 miles from the quake’s epicenter.
.
“Pretty much overnight, the school became a newsroom,” says faculty member Annie Nocenti. While no students or staff members perished in the earthquake, some lost family members or friends, most lost their homes and all were deeply affected by the enormity of the tragedy. In a way, says student filmmaker Ebby Angel Louis, “you feel like you’re already dead, watching other people who are in such pain.” “The first thing we said to each other was, ‘How can we help?’ ” says Andrew Bigosinski, director of Ciné Lekòl, as Ciné Institute’s two-year film school is known. (The institute also runs Ciné Services, an income-generating production center; Ciné Klas, an educational outreach program with area high schools; and Ciné Klub, a film series open to the general public.) “It was obvious, pretty much immediately,” Bigosinski continues, “that as filmmakers, our tools are cameras. I made the students a commitment: if they could dig up the cameras, I would find a secure Internet [connection], and we would start recording immediately. They just got it — this is what they could do to be of service to the community.”
.
Or as student Simeus Fritzner puts it in his remarkable documentary short, Le Jour du Seismé, which includes footage Fritzner shot in the moments immediately after the late-afternoon quake, “I have a mission. It is to grab my camera and record the people’s suffering, all their suffering, all their miseries, and show it to other people in order for them to see and live what they had lived themselves.”
.
The Ciné Institute's students — 50 in all, young men and women ranging from their late teens to early 30s — fanned out all over Jacmel, documenting scenes of suffering and grief, but also great heroism and compassion. “I think our students have a lot more access to the true story and into the lives of the people that foreign journalists would never really be able to get at,” observes Bigosinski. “They have a greater context for what this catastrophe really means to the people who are left with it. They are from that community; they are a voice of that community.” “This is an opportunity to show our strength and our potential,” adds Louis. “These are all part of our character.”
.
So is tenacity. Even without its main school building, Ciné Lekòl is continuing to hold regular classes; Nocenti has been teaching her screenwriting class out of a large tent. “It’s like having a training camp in a war zone,” she says. “The students’ learning curve has been like a rocket. They’ve become extraordinary filmmakers.” That’s exactly what American filmmaker David Belle had in mind when he founded the Ciné Institute just two years ago. Belle, who first visited Haiti in the early 1990s to film a documentary about then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, became fascinated by the country’s rich culture and complex history, and went on to film several more documentaries in and around Jacmel, where he also bought a home. In 2004, he co-founded Festival Film Jakmèl, which screened hundreds of international films free of charge for Haitian audiences, and then in 2008 launched the Ciné Institute.
.
The immediate goal, says Nocenti, a New York-based filmmaker and journalist who became one of the institute’s first teachers, “was to put cameras into the hands of Haitians.” Belle’s long-term goal is nothing less than fostering a thriving Haitian film industry. “Using the power of cinema, integrated educational programming, technical training, and media production support,” reads the school’s mission statement. “Ciné Institute educates and empowers Haitian youth who seek the creative, technical, and business skills necessary to grow local media industries that can provide jobs and spur economic growth needed to improve their lives and the lives of others.”
.
With support from foundations, prominent filmmakers (including director Paul Haggis, a Ciné Institute board member), and Haitian-born writers and artists (such as novelist Edwidge Danticat and fashion photographer Marc Baptiste, both visiting faculty members), Belle has put together an ambitious curriculum, with “fast-track professional training” in all aspects of both fiction and documentary filmmaking, as well as television advertising. Students learn still and video camera techniques, field and studio sound recording, editing, screenwriting, acting, producing, and directing. They also study the fine points of business and project development, marketing and distribution.
.
“Our students had been well trained prior to the earthquake,” Bigosinski says, training that included workshops with Jonathan Stack, director of the acclaimed documentary The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison. “As they were doing this, we discussed the short form journalistic approach, so they went out with an idea of exactly what they were developing in these news pieces.” Nocenti, who was in New York when the quake hit, used her journalism connections to bring the students’ footage to the attention of major news outlets, including The PBS Newshour and CNN. In late January, when board member Haggis was asked to direct the video for “We Are the World 25 for Haiti,” he recruited Ciné Institute students to assist with location filming in Haiti, and then brought nine of them, including Ebby Angel Louis, to Los Angeles to serve as interns on the video shoot.
.
Working with a roomful of rap and rock stars was “exciting,” says Louis, “but for us it was also an educational experience. We are still students. We worked a lot, and we learned a lot.” That learning has continued in a series of short documentaries the students have shot for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (which are also posted on the Ciné Institute website), and in a longer documentary they have begun filming in Pinchinat, Jacmel’s largest tent camp. Later this spring, students will begin shooting some short fiction films set in postquake Haiti; they have also been hired to film PSAs for several NGOs.
.
For Louis, who directed fiction films prior to the quake (his dramatic short, Miss Body Plastik, was screened at New York’s French Institute last year), the lessons have been multi-layered. “The hardest part for me is to be efficient, to still be a good filmmaker in all these situations,” he says. “In fiction films, all the pictures are already in your head to tell the story. But in documentaries, the pictures and stories are in reality, and you have to catch and use them as tools to help people understand a topic and a story.”
.
Not all their work takes place behind a camera. Both students and staff have done “a huge amount of relief work,” says Nocenti, including helping to distribute and install 15 generators, which had been donated by members of the New York City film community, at several hospitals, an orphanages and a radio station. “And one of the best things we have done,” says Nocenti, “has been to bring movies to the tent camps,” large, outdoor screenings for camp residents they’ve dubbed "Ciné Lumière." But Ciné Institute’s largest production will be reconstructing their school. “We can’t work out of tents forever,” Nocenti says with a rueful laugh. “We have to find land, raise funds, and rebuild. So we have a big journey ahead of us.”
.
“We’re talking to a lot of very interesting people about how to build the school,” adds Bigosinski. He envisions a design that will not only withstand earthquakes, but also be environmentally sustainable — and serve as a model for the wave of rebuilding that awaits Haiti. Another goal: Adding courses to the Ciné Institute curriculum on how to maintain these green building and energy technologies, so that “the school will be a training ground where we can help build [new projects] and, more importantly, maintain what is left once the aid organizations leave.” It’s a tall order, especially for a group that is already working in extreme-hardship conditions. But the students’ spirits are surprisingly good, says Bigosinski, “because they understand that the work they are doing is bringing international attention to Jacmel. It really makes them feel good about what they are doing. It is a good way to heal.”

Handouts not the answer, says Haitian filmmaker (6/6/2010)

Sydney Morning Herald
By Adam Fulton
.
Billions of dollars in aid for Haiti will be wasted if the international community does not dramatically change its approach to the devastated Caribbean nation, a former minister for culture says. Award-winning filmmaker Raoul Peck said the world's ''strictly humanitarian approach'' focusing on food handouts in the aftermath of the January earthquake had caused a ''victimisation'' of Haiti's people and did not consider how to empower them and create a sustainable future. ''That doesn't really help the country recover in terms of economical growth,'' he said.
.
Peck, who was culture minister briefly in the mid-1990s before returning to filmmaking, has worked on international development projects, won a lifetime achievement award from Human Rights Watch and was awarded an Order of Arts and Literature in France.
.
His visit to Sydney coincides with screenings of his powerful Haitian political allegory Moloch Tropical, selected for the Sydney Film Festival's $60,000 official competition, yesterday and today at the State Theatre. His socio-political films, such as Lumumba (2000), have won widespread acclaim.
.
The quake left more than 250,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless and Peck said if done properly, rebuilding Haiti was an opportunity for positive change. But instead of bringing in ''massive aid in terms of rice and oil'' or care packages, giving its people money would have been better, he said.
.
''We have had experiences before where for each camp of 600 people, you could give the money to a group of 30 women and they organise the camp.They cook, they serve warm meals and make sure that everything goes well … Then you would have brought the economical flow in shape again.''
.
If aid continued to be just humanitarian - rather than for developing a sustainable future - the billions of dollars being spent would weaken Haiti and have been wasted, he said. ''Unless we are able to reverse the kind of thinking [on aid], we're going to spend the whole $10 or $11 billions on nothing … Haiti will have very little left to show for it.
.
''As long as you keep [only] feeding people, you're not giving them work, you're not giving them changes to rebuild their life.'' Haiti should be able to put forward its own plan, he said. ''But one should not be naive: it's also about power … and the normal, accepted view that you go the Third World so that you get to decide what's going on.''
.
Peck acknowledged the situation was very difficult and complex and the government was overwhelmed, but said improvements were taking too long. ''We are almost in the middle of the rainy season and still the majority of the people who were under tents [after the quake] are still living under tents.''
.
Moloch Tropical, which Peck directed, produced and co-wrote, focuses on the end times of a fictional Haitian president and his inner circle in a regime marked by corruption, torture and thuggery, sexual misconduct and other abuses, as well as self-delusion. The themes were drawn from past Haitian regimes, Peck said, but he depicted a ''democratically elected'' president to make the point that such elements were also present in legitimately elected governments. ''It's a phenomenon that's not only [to do] with Haiti … those are things happening today in our democracies.''

Haiti's Children Shine Light on their Stuggles Through Film

6/22/2010
.
Stuart Shahid Bamforth produces films for Save the Children, and has recently been on location in India, Afghanistan and Gaza. He is a BAFTA-winning film-maker with many years' experience running film workshops with children and young people.
.
The notion of running film-making workshops with children in Leogane, Haiti, initially seemed a crazy idea. Though, recently I ran a similar project with Save the Children in Gaza to mark one year on from the Israeli military offensive - "Operation Cast Lead." Some amazing films were created from that project with first-hand testimony from young Palestinians about what it's like to live under occupation.
.
But the conditions in this port town of Leogane, west of Haiti's capital - no electricity, 90 percent of the population living in tents, massive security issues - the challenge seemed a little trickier. Nearly five months after the quake, the global news spotlight on Haiti has moved on. So it was exciting to strike up a partnership with ITV News, to help ensure the plight of the Haiti people is not forgotten - more especially the lives of our group of children from Leogane.
.
ITV reporter Emma Murphy and senior cameraman Dave Harman were in Haiti back in January, and were responsible for many of the harrowing images we still carry with us. However, on this recent project, they reported on the recovery process. They helped our group of children make their own films, find their own voices and tell their own stories about the day the earth shook and changed their live forever.
.
These series of films document their struggles and try to make sense of it all. They provide insight into how these bright young children can bring some sense of normality back into their troubled lives.
.
Meet the group of children from Leogane - the epicentre of the earthquake - who are taking part in the film-making project, and documenting their own lives in the following 12 months at the link below:
.
http://www.alertnet.org/db/blogs/55943/2010/05/2-151245-1.htm

CINÉ INSTITUTE SEEKS FULL TIME TEACHERS (5/25/2010)

Ciné Institute, Haiti's only professional film school, provides Haitian youth with university level film education and edutainment, technical training and media related micro enterprise opportunities. The Institute trains aspiring local filmmakers in all aspects of production and produces films of all kinds in partnership with our students and graduates. Our objective is to provide Haiti's talented youth with the knowledge and tools necessary to give birth to a local audiovisual industry.
.
For filmmakers and humanitarians this is an exciting opportunity to make a significant impact on a community in need. We believe that filmmaking can reduce poverty through the creation of new jobs and economic activity. Join other significant leaders in the film and entertainment industry who share this vision and who are helping to support the Ciné Institute vision.
.
Specifically, we seek two (2) full time teachers to help grow our curriculum and assist in implementing our two-year university level program of intensive, hands-on A-Z production training in how to make professional films on a shoe string budget. Teacher 1 will teach story development, scene analysis, screenwriting and acting. Teacher 2 will teach producing, directing, cinematography and sound.
.
Both positions are integral to carrying-out the day-to-day delivery of school curriculum and will be supported by supplementary workshops from short term visiting faculty. All teachers report to the school's Director. The position requires candidates to reside in country on the Institute's four-acre campus by the sea in Jacmel, known has Haiti's cultural capital. Candidates must be able to commit to a minimum of one year, from August to July. Positions are open to film school graduates, teachers on sabbatical and working film professionals.
.
Essential Functions
.
1) Provide high quality and inspirational teaching in story-development and film production.
.
2) Contribute to curriculum development.
.
3) Support visiting faculty and provide students with mentorship and supervision for their independent projects.
.
4) Administrative duties for the Institute, as required.
.
5) Support the growth of the Institute's job creation division, Ciné Services, through supporting active productions.
.
6) Be available for all activities associated with this position, including preparation of teaching and support materials, attending staff meetings, hosting visiting faculty.
.
7) Filmmaking and teaching experience.
.
8) Ability to motivate students.
.
9) Providing leadership and direction.
.
10) Knowledge of all-aspects of filmmaking process.
.
11) Excellent communication skills.
.
12) Excellent leadership skills.
.
13) Fluent in French and English.
.
Qualifications
.
1) MFA, M.Ed. or other earned degree in Film or Cinema Studies.
.
2) Demonstrated experience in film production.
.
Compensation
.
1) Competitive compensation package.
.
2) Paid in-country.
.
3) Housing with travel allowances to home country.
.
For more information about our organization please visit us here. Interested parties please submit cover letter and resume to info@cineinstitute.com

'Cinema Under the Stars' helps Haitians move on (5/17/2010)

Christian Science Monitor
By Kathie Klarreich
.
Carrefour, Haiti — Eight-year-old Isma Widline hasn't had any homework since her school was one of 3,000 to collapse during the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake. Electricity, thus television, is spotty, and a lot of her friends have left the area. So when she saw hundreds of people gathering around a podium assembled a few blocks from her house on a recent evening, she went to check things out.
.
This was not just another evening in Carrefour, the neighborhood best known now as the epicenter of the quake. Curiosity turned to excitement as Widline watched, for the first time in her life, a movie projected onto a large screen. Her smile is what the creators of Sinema Anba Zetwal – Cinema Under the Stars – had hoped for when they founded their nonprofit nine years ago. Composed of professional artists from various disciplines, the group’s mission – to unite people through cinema, video, and the power of mass media – has become even more significant in the country’s post-earthquake recovery.
.
“Everything that was being donated for the victims of the quake was for their belly,” says general coordinator Tatiana Magloire, whose mother co-founded SAZ. “But nothing was for the head. So the theme of this four-day SAZ tour is 'Food for the Soul.' You have to feed yourself within to heal, and the best way to do that is to share and learn together in the community setting." Despite rain and technical difficulties, the crowd gathered under umbrellas, shelters, and tarps, some dripping wet, others with plastic bags over their heads.
.
They listened to singers and watched documentaries and films produced by Haitians for Haitians, selections designed to encourage Haitians to have pride in their country, their culture, themselves. Cheers, giggles, and laughter erupted when the microphone was passed through the crowd and people saw and heard themselves on the big screen.
.
“Our job is not just to help educate them with films about the environment, their body, and their country,” says Greg Gilles, one of SAZ’s animators, “but to ask them how they feel. What do they want to change? We give them a chance to express themselves and let them know that people are listening. That’s empowerment.”
.
One of the guests was Cato Tholin. The 20-year old first heard about SAZ when the group showed a film by Josh Sundquist, a paralympic ski racer, at the hospital where Ms. Tholin had her leg amputated. The house that fell on her during the quake also killed her father. “At first it was really hard, but SAZ helped me realize that there are people that I can talk to about this,” she says. “They have given me courage, showed me that life goes on.”
.
SAZ expects to reach 100,000 people in its three-month tour across the country. The group's goal is to have 260 shows in 52 locations, but they currently have funding for only 24 shows for the next six weeks. Its sponsors, which include nongovernmental organizations such as Mercy Corps and the Voila Foundation, hope to continue funding for the long-term.
.
“The content is 100 percent Haitian, so they are looking at themselves,” says Kyle Dietrich, who heads Mercy Corps' youth program in Haiti. “It’s inspiring, informative, and entertaining. It will help them re-imagine what is possible so they can return to some sort of normalcy.” At the very least, it’s a welcome distraction from the mundane.
.
Huddled under a stoop, 22-year-old Fontus Benirandar didn’t mind that she was getting wet as an environmental documentary flashed in front of her. “I’ve been waiting for this for two weeks,” she says. “I just wish it was going to last more than four nights.”

Good camp, bad camp: The shortfalls of Haiti aid (4/26/2010)

Associated Press
By JONATHAN M. KATZ
.
CROIX-DES-BOUQUETS, Haiti — You name it, Camp Corail has got it. And Camp Obama does not. The organized relocation camp at Corail-Cesselesse has thousands of spacious, hurricane-resistant tents on groomed, graded mountain soil. The settlement three miles (four kilometers) down the road — named after the U.S. president in hopes of getting attention from foreigners — has leaky plastic tarps and wooden sticks pitched on a muddy slope.
.
Corail has a stocked U.N. World Food Program warehouse for its 3,000-and-counting residents; the more than 8,500 at Camp Obama are desperate for food and water. Corail's entrance is guarded by U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian police. Camp Obama's residents put up a Haitian flag to mark their empty security tent. The camps, neighbors in the foothills of a treeless mountain, are a diptych of the uneven response to Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake. More than $12.7 billion has been pledged by foreign governments, agencies and organizations, including $2.8 billion for humanitarian response and another $9.9 billion promised at the March 31 U.N. donors conference.
.
In one camp, which dignitaries and military commanders visit by helicopter, those billions are on display. A short hop down the road, they barely register. "We've heard the foreigners have given a lot of aid money. But we're still living the same way as before, and we're still dying the same way as before," said Duverny Nelmeus, a 52-year-old welder-turned Camp Obama resident-coordinator.
.
Haiti's needs are still enormous, but more than 100 days after the quake, the plan for dealing with them is unclear. Even the death toll is confusing: Government estimates hovered around 230,000 until the U.N. donors conference when, without explanation, the total jumped to 300,000.
.
There are officially 1.3 million people displaced by the magnitude-7 earthquake. Hundreds of thousands have massed in settlement camps that, like Camp Obama, sprouted with little or no planning. These Haitians live in makeshift tarp homes and shanties, govern their affairs with self-formed security committees and make do with whatever aid arrives.
.
It was said early on that nearly all the displaced needed to be moved ahead of the arriving rainy season to carefully planned camps like Corail. But it took months to procure land. By March, aid officials decided instead that people should start going home, saying thousands of houses are still habitable or can be repaired. It was even better, they said, for most to stay where they were: Agencies deemed just 37,000 people in nine camps at high risk for flash floods, said Shaun Scales of the International Organization for Migration.
.
But many people are not moving, nor do they want to stay where they are. Persistent aftershocks and rumors of more to come — President Rene Preval warned of an impending earthquake at a news conference this month — are keeping people from going back. Private landowners and schools are threatening to evict squatters. Those who remain are suffering. What they want is a better option. And for a few lucky people, right now, that's Corail. The product of a coordinated effort by aid agencies, the United Nations, the U.S. military, the Haitian government and other entities, it has sprung up seemingly overnight on a cactus patch where the Cite Soleil slum meets the suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets.
.
There was little here but a few concrete homes, disorganized camps and brush until a few weeks ago, when Preval announced that the government would seize — with compensation for the owners — 18,500 acres (7,490 hectares) of the arid land. Authorities began moving people in immediately, even before services were in place. Croix-des-Bouquets officials say they were unprepared for the onslaught. Aid groups Oxfam, World Vision and CARE criticized the rush as violating human dignity.
.
Now ecstatic arrivals are streaming in aboard air-conditioned buses, clutching laminated ID cards with maps of the settlement, wearing green bracelets bearing their names. Nearly all come from the most famous camp in post-quake Port-au-Prince: the Petionville Club golf course, home to 45,000 quake survivors, elements of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne and a gaggle of Hollywood volunteers led by Sean Penn. Aid workers lead the smiling tenants to their Chinese-made cylindrical tents, pointing out the floodlights, the police tent and where the 342 toilets and 24 showers are being built.
.
The plan is to stage about 6,000 people here along the 50-acre (20-hectare) "Sector 4" as the rainy season gets under way, even while U.N. trucks, U.S. Navy engineers and aid groups continue construction. Then they will start building sturdier shelters of wood, plastic and metal in adjacent Sectors 2 and 3.
.
There's no word yet on what will be built in Sector 1, but locals are expecting some major development. Concrete homes and stores are also being built around the new camp. Manushka Lindor, 23, is among the lucky. She sat in the shady tent with her 3-year-old son, Peterson St. Louis Jr., who squealed "Vroom! Vroom!" as the big construction trucks went by. Just a few hours after arrival, she was already planning to stay.
.
"I don't have anywhere else to live. If they come here and build a house I can rent, I'd be very satisfied," she said. Her husband, Peterson St. Louis Sr., pushed a green wheelbarrow full of welcome bounty: a week of ready-to-eat meals for the whole family and hygiene kits with soap, toothpaste, toilet paper and sanitary napkins.
.
They had been living in the golf-course camp, dealing with crime, mud and danger. One day, Lindor said, a water truck slid backward into a tent and killed two people. Their new home offers quiet, assistance and a chance for a fresh start. St. Louis, a 27-year-old barber, is setting up shop in the back of the tent with an office chair and a car battery to charge his electric clippers.
.
Outside it is a different story. Roads are cracked, and rubble lines the route. Twisted webs of steel rebar lie in heaps, collected by residents sick of waiting for help and now setting out to rebuild on their own. Police cars pull over by the side of the road to buy pirated gasoline amid fuel shortages.
.
In Camp Obama, the help has been spotty and often ineffective. Almost everyone has at least one plastic tarp, the "emergency shelter material," in aid-worker parlance, that was a focus of relief efforts in the months after the quake. But those are leaking and falling apart. Nobody remembers what aid group came when — the parade of foreigners becomes a blur. Someone left a rubber bladder to hold drinking water, another a black tank for the same. Both are broken and empty. "We'd thank God for a glass of water," Nelmeus said.
.
Cuban doctors have come and provided anti-malarial and other medicines, as did some Americans. But while Corail's hospital tent is fully staffed, Camp Obama's is usually empty. Nelmeus' two children are sick with fever and awaiting treatment.
.
They cannot go to Corail, where organizers rejected a request by the Croix-des-Bouquets mayor to take in 10,000 homeless squatting on land in his town. Corail's organizers worry about the discrepancy. Camp leaders told U.S. Southern Command chief Gen. Douglas Fraser on Wednesday that they have ruled out fences but are debating stepped-up patrols or other measures to keep aid-seeking neighbors out.
.
Obama residents said they had nothing to worry about: Getting into a better camp isn't their goal. "The better life is in America. If I went there, I would look like a young man. I would dance," Nelmeus said.
.
Associated Press Writer Frank Bajak contributed to this story.

Children Reach Out Through the Screen to Peers (4/27/2010)

IPS
By Dalia Acosta
.
Five girls and five boys are taking time to remember the hurricane that devastated their home town of Gibara in eastern Cuba two years ago, mingling their memories with their dreams, and filming images to make a video message for children in Haiti. "What I like best is learning through playing," said one of the primary school children selected to take part in an audiovisual production workshop in Gibara.
.
Without putting pressure on the children to move beyond their normal pace, the workshop asked them to think about and make a "gift for the children of Haiti," where on Jan. 12 an earthquake demolished the capital city and claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people. The material produced by the workshop, which is part of the Eighth Humberto Solás International Low-Budget Film Festival, will be sent to Haitian communities affected by the earthquake, with the support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) office in Cuba.
.
"When you are a victim, it's difficult to think about other victims. So it's important for other victims to tell you how they lived through and overcame a similar experience. One child victim of a catastrophe tells his or her story to another who is suffering now," UNICEF representative in Cuba José Juan Ortiz told IPS.
.
Psycho-emotional rehabilitation is hardly ever funded by international relief in disaster situations, Ortiz said. However, such simple activities as drawing and painting, or more complex ones like creating a film, have proved highly valuable in this work. At times of war or natural disaster, "efforts are focused on giving children water, sanitation, food and shelter, without realising that unaddressed trauma has consequences that can last a lifetime. It's an urgent priority to work on this area," he said.
.
Cuban psychologists Yuliet Cruz and Silvia Padrón initiated this project, aimed at avoiding "secondary victimisation", a result not of the original trauma, but of the subsequent response of institutions and individuals to the victims, for example when the adults in charge focus on concrete goals rather than the experiences and processes the children are living through.
.
"Children are the spectators of the future, but also of the present. We wanted to give them the chance to be the filmmakers of today, exercising their right to participation and self-expression," said Padrón at the Children's Encounter held Wednesday Apr. 21 in Gibara. For the first time, the Gibara Festival specifically welcomed children and adolescents by including this initiative, as well as screening films from the International Children and Youth Film Festival (FICI) held in Spain last year, and holding a special visual arts exhibition.
.
The Low-Budget Film Festival was conceived of to foment appreciation of films made on a shoestring, but nonetheless of high artistic quality, which portray a wealth of alternative viewpoints and are seldom shown by major distributors. This year over 1,000 movies were entered, and 300 were chosen for the competition proper. The festival's traditional inaugural parade was held Monday Apr. 19 through the central streets of Gibara, a fishing port also known as the White Village of Crabs. The event closed Saturday Apr. 24 after a marathon of parallel screenings, workshops, visual arts activities and concerts.
.
The participation of children and adolescents at the festival, which was founded by late Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solás (1941-2008), "has come to stay," in the shape of the filmmaking workshop and film exhibit, according to the festival's director, Sergio Benvenuto. UNICEF's Ortiz said the novelty of including children is "a qualitative leap forward" for the festival, which since its origin in 2004 "has achieved the very difficult feat of encouraging society, the consumers of artistic products, to make this festival their own."
.
He said UNICEF will collaborate with the Low-Budget Film Festival's creative workshops and children's and adolescents' film screenings, and will provide materials from similar projects the U.N. agency supports in other countries. The festival presented an opportunity to present what Ortiz called a "friendly" text version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 1989 and ratified by 193 countries, with the exceptions of Somalia and the United States.
.
The booklet, illustrated by Juan Padrón, the creator of an animated cartoon character popular in Cuba, also sparked a new idea of his for a project that UNICEF is supporting: a series of one-minute animated shorts on each of the rights outlined by the Convention. As for the children's audiovisual workshop in Gibara, the UNICEF representative said that this activity, rather than a one-off piece of work, is intended to blaze a trail. "The material made here will be sent to Haitian children, who will then make their own video about their experiences for children in Cuba," he said.
.
"And as this festival is a good place for dreaming, let's dream that this may be the beginning of a collaboration between Gibara and something that, some time, can take shape in Haiti," he concluded.

Post new comment