The earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 killed hundreds of thousands and devastated the Caribbean island nation. Life was hard in the best of times there but the earthquake has added to their miseries.
A group in the town of Washington is trying to help recovery efforts by raising funds to restore a church in a mountainous area of the country. A Haitian dinner will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church parish hall starting at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12. There is no set fee for the dinner but donations will be accepted. Haitian art and crafts will be sold.
“The church is tiny and very, very cute. There’s also a school. While they were leveled, no one was killed. When the earthquake happened at about 5 o’clock most people got out. All of the houses around the church were also demolished. It’s just a big pile of rubble,” said Beverly Sullivan, who will be cooking a Haitian dish to he served. She has made a number of visits to Haiti since she first went there in the 1970s with her husband, Washington’s mayor John Fox Sullivan.
“John and I went down in the 1970s for our honeymoon. We fell in love with the people and the artwork,” she explained. She subsequently ran an enterprise called Everything from Haiti with her friend Kay Heller that marketed works by Haitian artists. The two friends are planning to travel to Haiti this winter.
The church they are trying to help rebuild is St. Marc’s in Trouin. Whatever money is raised on Sept. 12 will go toward helping the effort. The church congregation and schoolchildren have been meeting in a metal shed and under tarps provided by a nearby church. The homeless are living on the church and school grounds.
Sullivan will be busy in the kitchen next week, cooking and refrigerating griot — a Haitian pork dinner — that will be served as the main course at the Sept. 12 dinner.
The pork is marinated in lime and orange juice. Haitians typically cook it outside but Sullivan isn’t being that traditional in the preparation. She’ll prepare it indoors.
“I know exactly what to do. I’ll be doing that next week,” she said.
Other Haitian dishes to be prepared by volunteers include chicken with coconut, West Indian pumpkin soup, red beans and rice, sauce Ti-Malice, which Sullivan said is made with lime, hot peppers and carrots; sweet potato bread, salad, coconut pudding and Haitian coffee, which Sullivan said has “less caffeine, is richer and tastes better” than what Americans typically drink.
She said that one end of the parish hall at Trinity will have a Haitian market with metalwork, figurines, tablecloths, trays, birdhouses and other works for sale. Other paintings, not for sale, will be exhibited. Haitian music will be performed and CDs will be sold.
Sullivan said she is hoping the dinner draws a turnout of between 75 to 100 people. Fliers and e-mails are going out to spread the word. Attendees are encourage to wear tropical clothing if they like.
Anyone who would like to help with the dinner preparations can call Judy Reidinger at 987-9600.
Meanwhile, John O’Malley Burns of Rappahannock County is taking a different tack to aid Haitians.
A few days after earthquake, he contacted the Organic Trade Association for its help in assisting mango growers on the island. The Tiger Valley resident volunteers with the Mouvman Moun Mango, an initiative that works with small farmers in Haiti to produce Fair Trade Certified mangoes. The farmers are encouraged to plant more trees and the initiative works to ensure they are fairly compensated. The mangoes have been bought by Whole Foods Market.
In May, a team from Whole Foods along with others went to Haiti to meet with the mango growers, field agents and exporters. That has led to an intent by Whole Foods to double the quantity of mangoes it imports this year, according to a published report.