Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Please Help Support Haitian-led grassroots group MESS in Jakmel, Haiti

Hello friends and supporters,

We are writing you to ask for your financial support in obtaining an office space for MESS, a student public health movement birthed out of the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. As some of you may know, Jacmel Working Group collaborated with MESS during our two month stay earlier this year.

MESS's work in Jakmel has proved to be an integral part of the Haitian led relief effort. However, MESS could be far more effective with an office space. Throughout the year they have held their meetings at a picnic table or anywhere they could find space. With an office, they would be able to set up a computer workstation, host meetings and store supplies for their public health activities. We are hoping to raise $3000 to secure an office plus utilities. Please donate to MESS through our paypal.

MESS was formed after the collapse of the entire university system in Port au Prince. Upon returning to their hometown of Jakmel, the displaced students formed MESS to respond to public health issues of earthquake survivors. These include primary health care mobile clinics, public health education around hygiene and sanitation and STI's, violence prevention and public safety, and mental health support work.

During the early part of our trip, we met MESS and through a series of meetings figured out how we could best support them in a model of solidarity not charity. After our meetings with MESS, we showed our support by consulting with their oversight and mental health committees, volunteering at their mobile health clinic sites and mental health support groups, provided medical donations and committed to raising money for their continued efforts.

On a recent trip to Haiti, Ivy met with MESS and was updated on their current work and their current needs. They have continued to plan and implement mobile and mental health clinics, public health education, and have expanded their work to domestic violence prevention focused on men speaking to men. They now also have a weekly health-focused radio show every Sunday at 6 pm on Radio Express, Jakmel's first and oldest community radio station.
You can donate finances via our paypal for MESS's office space.

Please forward this far and wide so that we can reach our goal of $3000 for MESS.
Thank you all for your support in the Haitian-led relief effort. Please check this blog for periodic updates on MESS and other great projects.

Ivy Jeanne McClelland
Jerry Gildea
Jacmel Working Group

MESS Update December 2010

I recently returned to Jakmel,Haiti for 10 days and
met up with MESS and was updated on their recent work.
They are still going strong but have fewer members as
school recommenced this fall.

MESS has expanded their work to now include
grant writing and computer skills workshops hosted by a local
multimedia center. They have also started providing domestic violence prevention workshops specifically having men talk to men about domestic violence.
They are in the process of becoming registered with the Haitian government
but are in need of funds to do so. They now have a weekly health focused radio program airing on Radio Express, Jakmel's community radio station. They recently collaborated with students from the University of Chicago to implement a needs survey about education in the Jakmel area.

In the coming months, MESS plans to hold a reflection day retreat with all of their members reflecting on their accomplishments, struggles and their vision of the future
direction of MESS. MESS is still in need of resources to continue their work.

The following is a wishlist from our recent meeting:

Funds for office space ($3000 us estimate)

Legalization/ registration process($75 us)

Mobile clinic costs ($140 us each clinic)

Multilingual Website development

Medical supplies, office supplies

Digital media (Computers, printers, scanners,digital cameras, video projector)

MESS would like to express their deepest gratitude and appreciation
for all of the support they have received this year.

Here is a message I recently received from Jean Damas, MESS committee member,

We are very happy to see how you pay attention to MESS, we don't have word to thank you but We asked god to bless you and your family and everyone who helps MESS, because when you HELP us you Help the population.

The next post will detail our current fundraiser for MESS.
Please forward this far and wide and again we thank you all for your support.

~Ivy Jeanne
Jacmel Working Group

The following are photos of MESS's activites,
the radio program, mobile clinics, computer skills workshop and my recent
meeting with MESS:

Monday, December 6, 2010

KOLAJ-New Artist Kolektif helping kids in Jakmel

After the earthquake, my good friend Ambroise Anderson
started making art with children to ease their pain and
grief as well as way to heal himself.He initially started the project by using money he received from Timberland clothing company for using his artwork on Timberland T-shirts. The first project he did was to make kites, called kap in kreyol, with kids. The children first painted on them and then flew them
on the main Plaza in Jakmel, where a tent city was erected after the quake.

These first projects inspired him to start KOLAJ-Kolektif Atis Jakmel, an artist collective. There are a few adult collective members that all facilitate art projects with Jakmel's youth.
On my recent visit to Jakmel, I had the pleasure to see the
KOLAJ expo, a three day event during Fet Gede (Day of the Dead), where they exhibited over 40 sculptures they made with children on a public stairway. They are now looking for a home for the kolektif as they currently only host their workshops outdoors.

You can visit their website at: www.atisjakmel.org
to find out more info and how you can support them.
They are always in need of art supplies and funds to continue the project.

Below are pictures of the KOLAJ event:

Gran Lakou and Jakmel Ekspresyon-New Art Center in Jakmel, Haiti

Lakou, the queer performing arts troupe is now going by the name of Gran Lakou
and now has a home at the new art center in Jakmel called Jakmel Ekspresyon.

Back in March, several of us were raising funds to bring Lakou to San Francisco
for the Cuba Caribe dance festival.They were not able to obtain
their travel visas so they decided to use the money raised to start
a new art center that would be queer, disabled and women inclusive and free from discrimination. Thus the founding of Jakmel Ekspresyon.

The two-story space has office space, studio space, a community kitchen and the second story is the performance and exhibition space. Some of the new and exciting projects underway at JE include: Gran Lakou's aerobics workshop, World AIDS day awareness event and ongoing photography workshops with children.

Jakmel Ekspresyon and Gran Lakou appreciates any support you have to offer.
For more info please check back here and we will keep you posted when they have a

If you are interested in donating to JE or Gran Lakou you can do so here just make a note of it. Please get in touch if you are interested in putting on a benefit for
these great projects.

Thanks alot!
~Ivy Jeanne

Below are photos of Gran Lakou performing at FOSAJ, Gran Lakou's aerobics workshop and of Jakmel Ekspresyon from Nov 2010:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women's Day and in Haiti this year several local women's organizations marked the day by honoring the lives and work of Myriam Merlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne-Marie Coriolan. I took the tap-tap over the mountain pass from Jacmel to Port-au-Prince with my friend Etienne to attend.

It's only about 40 km from Jacmel to Port-au-Prince, but it usually takes roughly 2 1/2 hours to make the trip as the mountains are steep and the road is narrow. I didn't know what to expect as we wound our way down the mountain, passing tiny villages and farmers on foot walking donkeys loaded down with their yields of casheman, bannan and tobacco.

After navigating the labyrinthine streets of Port-au-Prince, we arrived to a dead-end road,roped off to host the ceremony. There were sharply dressed ushers seating people in rows of chairs that faced a stage at the far end of the road. It was an exceptionally hot and beautiful day and the sky was bright blue beyond the massive tarp erected to shade the attendees. Scores of people steadily streamed into completely fill every seat and then to stand in every inch of space available beyond the rope.

I made my way through the crowd with my video camera to get a good view of the event. when I turned around to face the crowd, I was struck by how many people were there. The feeling was electric. There was so much emotion packed beneath the tarp. I saw groups of feminists from all over the world in attendance, they came from: The Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Americas and even as far away as Europe.

The group from the Dominican Republic had specially printed up placards in the shape of the female symbol with the faces of Magalie, Myriam and Anne-Marie printed on them.
I saw women bursting into tears, embracing each other. There were lively conversations between new-guard and old-guard feminists.

On the stage were three alters dedicated to each of the women honored. The flower arrangements were large and colorful. In front of the stage, there was a table completely covered in lit, purple candles. I became entranced by the flames. There were six hours of speakers and performers in total, each executed with so much reverence. The ceremony began with an acapella quartet of young men in ties, reminiscent of old American do-wop groups. I could only make out very few words of the ceremony, but it didn't really matter, I knew what they were ultimately conveying.

The final act was by an extraordinary performance group made up of four men and four women. Through movement and song, they performed a 30 minute piece about loss and grief caused by the earthquake. Their movements were slow and exacting. In their final piece, the group passed a very long, shear cloth to each other where one of the women crouched in front of a large brown pot and pushed the long purple fabric into the pot until it slowly disappeared.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Morning Mass

Haiti 2010 420
Originally uploaded by Ivy Jeanne

Morning Mass one month after the earthquake

Days of Remembrance

I am back in Miami now after being in Haiti for almost
two months. It feels unreal to be back but I am embracing it.
In my last blog I mentioned that I wanted to write about two
pivotal events I attended while I was there:

The first event was the weekend of remembrance one month after Jan 12 earthquake. Haiti as a nation observed a three day period of mourning to mark this anniversary. Most businesses were closed during this time and there were multiple radio, television and mass text message announcements offering their deepest sympathies and condolences to those who lost friends and family.

During this period of mourning, there were memorials and vigils being held to honor the dead all across the nation. It was an incredibly powerful time of healing.

Where was the international media to cover this?
I personally saw very little.

Sadly, the world is left with very distorted images of the earthquake's aftermath like the mass burials and people fighting over food and subsequently Haiti's grieving and healing process is left in obscurity. I dare the media to cover something real and meaningful.

What I witnessed that weekend was so reverent and beautiful.
I was able to attend 4 different ceremonies that weekend in Jacmel, the first of which started at dawn. The first day of ceremonies were put together by christian churches and organizations.
It is a Haitian tradition to wear black and/or white to a funeral so Waffle, Jerry, Zaka and I
dawned our best black and white dress for the occasion.

As Zaka and I moto'd into town that morning, we saw men, women and children all dressed in their best black and white attire slowly gathering from all corners of the city to make their way to a large courtyard where the morning mass was taking place. As we walked into the courtyard, we were greeted by ushers in funeral sashes ready to direct people to a place to sit. There were two massive and beautiful funeral wreaths at the gate, covered in white, orange and purple flowers. It was an unusually bright and hot day adding a glowing element to everything and everyone.

Those in attendance crowded in a semi circle in chairs and on blankets with their loved ones facing the stage to listen to several pastors and community leaders share words. There was also a live band that played intermittenly throughout the service and the whole crowd joined the band in several sweet, sad hymnals and prayers. There were many tears shed that morning with people crying out and throwing their arms up in grief but there was also a sense of calmness present.

Zaka and I then made our way to Pinchanat, the soccer field turned tent city in town where another christian memorial was taking place. We meandered through the winding, hectic and dusty streets to get there and arrived to the sounds of an energetic revival. People were more spirited singing and dancing under the hot sun. A huge crowd gathered around a tarped stage in the very center of the camp. There was a very loud sound system for the rocking band and the crowd was sweating, dancing and singing along.There was a sense of lightness and joy that was amazing to take part in and watch. I then wandered off briefly with a resident and was given an impromptu tour of Pinchanat. I visited someone's tent home where there was a sleeping newborn and then checked out the well-built outhouses and communal kitchen on the far side of the camp.

The last event scheduled that Friday night was a candlelight vigil organized by the local social justice organization KROS. Waffle, Jerry, Zaka and I left our friend Reggie's place near the town center and made our way to the main thoroughfare Rue de Borroncea where we intersected with the vigil. It blew us away. There was an endless stream of people every direction we looked in, all clad in black and white. There was a more somber mood present as the procession slowly made its way through town. Almost everyone in the crowd held a single, white glowing candle in their hands singing songs of mourning as they passed us. We didn't see a break in the crowd for over half an hour. The trail of candlelight was immense and beautiful.

As we made our way home, hearts filled, we could hear the singing receding into the distance as the sound of frogs and crickets took over on Rue de Borroncea.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Originally uploaded by gowithflo

This is a photo from Lakou's
Pefomance Zonbi back in November of last year.
There are a few of us working to get Lakou here
sometime this year so we are doing all kinds
of fundraising. If anyone out there is interested in organizing a benefit for Lakou please let me know.
They are incredible!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

mid febuary photos

a clinic that M.E.S.S set up ,you can see doctors sitting with patients and others waiting in the back ground to be seen
locals passing time in the evening
ivy had brought art supplies to share with local artists that had lost theirs in the earthquake , she kept some supplies to have art time with neighborhood youth
jerri above in center with the work crew installing the canvas on the dome frame of bumi sahats birthing clinic

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Early Days here in Haiti


Thank you Thank you Thank you!

I just want to send a big thank you to all of you who donated to support MESS's
incredible endeavors.
Because of your support MESS has been able to provide free medicine, primary health care
and mental health support to the Jacmel communities affected by the earthquake.

So far, we have raised almost $600 and still wish to make our goal of $35oo for MESS.

Thanks to: Anandi Wonder and Andrew McGarrell for their individual donations and to The Firefly and Miss Ruth in Chicago for setting up 2 successful benefits.
The more benefits the merrier!

This has been a hell of a week!

I have been to numerous meetings and have been able to successfully lay the foundation work for Bumi Sehat's Health Education program. We recently recruited over 50 women to become peer health educators from MESS and they have already coordinated themselves into the 6 respective groups and found a space to meet in!
Way to go ladies!!
Many thanks to the hardworking Bumi Sehat/MESS planning committee:
Darline, Ania, Esther, Dadine, Nicole and Diana.
You are a force to be reckoned with!

I had a meeting this week with Fanm Deside, a women's anti violence organization. They have agreed to train the MESS volunteers for the Bumi Sehat's sexual violence workshops.
They have over 350 active members in the Jacmel area and provide vast support to abused women including hospital visits, provide legal representation and host educational workshops on this serious and important issue.
Sadly, violence against women and girls is an ever pervasive problem here in Haiti.
Thanks to organizations like Fanm Deside and AHDESSE, a men's anti violence organization, for doing this amazing and often difficult work. They are an affialate of Kay Fanm, the organization Magalie founded.

The Health Ed workshops for Bumi Sehat include:
family planning, healthy pregnancy, breastfeeding, nutrition, joyful parenting and sexual violence.
This Sat we will have a meeting to finalize the workshops with 5 American midwives, 5 Haitian midwives and a couple of social workers!
The first three workshops will be held this week starting Monday morning.
They have also started their bi-weekly prenatal clinics up in the dome.
Unfortunately, I will not be here to attend any of them but am so pleased to have worked hard to get them going.

As I get ready to leave I am feeling the strong ties and connections I have made and the blossoming of new and old friends alike.
I look forward to returning here to work and to also enjoy time with my wonderful friends.
I am also looking forward to seeing all of my friends back at home, I miss you very much and am excited to share stories with each other.

Before I leave I am hoping to write two more posts about the vigils held during the month anniversary and about the commemoration for Magalie, Ann Marie and Myriam that I attended on March 8th in Port au Prince. I will keep you posted!!

Until then,
xo, Ivy Jeanne

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

early febuary photos

ivy on the haitian border with 150 pounds of relief supplies and personal gear waiting for a friend to pick us up and head to port-au-prince
one of many tent encampments on the outskirts of port-au-prince
jerri worked with a family that we stayed with in constructing a latrine,a group effort that filled an entire day,wish i had a photo of the finished job,cause it looked really good
waffle being shown around the town (all 4 photos shot around febuary 6th-8th)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jerry's Newest Long Update

So I wrote most of this like 3 days ago but I am just posting it now.

Hey there. So heres some updates on what I have been up to, a part of and seen lately. A couple days ago there was a knock at the door of Bumi Sehat and so I answered it. About ten people were all making a human stretcher to carry a man who had been in a motorcycle wreck up the street. I was like Holy Shit! Let them in and some of the medical folks here went to work on him. He had bad road rash all over his arms and legs. There was this one spot though on his thigh that was gashed open and some of his muscle was ripped. It looked pretty nasty.

Everybody worked on cleaning his wounds, and I got to help grab med. supplies and tape bandages on him. And I went ahead and rolled up some baby clothes and put it in his mouth while the wounds were being cleaned so that he could bite down on something and scream. I had never been a part of any kind of bloody medical response like that before. Someone offered to drive him to the hospital after the initial cleaning and bandaging here so that he could get his leg stitched up.

He’ll be okay. But taxiing people around town on moto’s is how a lot of folks make there money here though and now he will be out of work and possibly out of a bike now and that’s probably gonna be the worst part of it for him, more so than the physical pain. I really hope things end up okay for him.

Yesterday was the opening ceremony for the birth center dome. People from local government came and spoke. Sixty women who MESS helped to bring and translate for came by for prenatal appointments. The coolest part was that the night before the Haitian crew getting paid to work up there worked for 27 HOURS!!! To make the place look good. They are really proud to be a part of something for there community and be able to get some doe for there families in the process. 27 HOURS. Those guys just have a groove going that is unstoppable.

To celebrate a whole truck load of the crew went to the beach and got a lot of bottles of liquor, shish kabob, coconuts. We went swimming and were just generally really loud and really ROWDY. It was nice to get to hang out with the work crew out of the worksite. How open everybody is to take you out and have a good time, when you can barely speak and you are a weird foreigner is the best. It’s a whole different type of friendship that forms when that is the case, and I am happy to have made those types of friends in my life. It was awesome times on a beautiful tropical beach. Jacmel!!!

We visited some water falls called Basin Bleu. It’s a series of blue, blue, blue pools that lead to one major waterfall that is really powerful, and gorgeous. You can jump off some rocks near the top of the falls about 25-30 feet up. Ivy, Zacha, me, and Michael all went and met up with a new friend Cara. The motorcycle rides we took up the mountain and back to go to the falls was all part of the fun to. What a good view of the city from up there.

Bumi Sehat had it’s first birth today on site. Not quite at the birthing clinic but at the house where everyone stays. Nadedj (one of the women in the work crew) who is always bringing folks down to the house for they and their kids ailments came on down with the woman. She had labored all night and was almost ready to push when she got here. There was definetly not enough time to get her back up the hill to the dome. So right in the living room on a mattress with the assistance of two volunteer midwives she quicly and peacefully birthed her third healthy baby.

When I arrived at the house to work today they were cleaning up the blood and getting ready to get her upstairs to lay down through the night and breastfeed and spend time with her timoun (child). The baby is totally adorable. It was a great thing to walk in and hear.

Now are you ready for this. I GOT A FUCKING BIKE! Yes. Me and this kid Stanley fixed it up today. Reggie hooked me up with his old bike and I rode around a little today. I’ve been shredding this city to pieces with it. As soon as it was fixed I took an epic 5 mile ride to the beach through hilly, bumpy terrain and met folks at a beach I had not been to before. Then after swimming, eating grilled conch, and drinking a wee bit of scotch I biked back…FAST! EPIC! I have been aching to ride a bike and I’m doing my best to make a few of my own gapping potholes in the street.

Well that’s all for today folks. Take care. Jerry

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good Days

So I have to talk about my great day yesterday. I took a break from the work I was doing to head over to the beach and do some reading. On the way to the beach I stopped off at a futball/soccer game on the street, watched that for a while and talked with some local kids. But when I turned the corner onto the sand of the beach I saw that for almost a mile up the beach there was soccer match after soccer match being played at the backside of the sand. One ball came dashing towards the ocean after a faulty kick and I got to save the day and catch it before it hit the water and throw it back.

Slowly I walked up the beach watching each game for a minute. The lighting was perfect you could have filmed a cinematic masterpiece. The sun was going down over the mountain range that jets into the ocean to the west and south was the expansive ocean North were the soccer matches and East was another mountain range filled with some homes and a huge trash fire on the beach, ready to light up the beach as sunset quickly approached. Of course burning garbage is kind of gross, but huge fires on the beach are a pleasing site. Beneath me were the black sands and smoothed stones, and curling sea snail shells that line the city beach. Pigs and dogs roamed around digging around for something to eat, and lovers sat together loving each other.

I parked myself on one of the ol’ beat up rowboats that sit on the sand to start reading and looked around at my backdrop of Jacmel like damn this place is killer. I took a different way back to the work house than I usually do and talked with a few folks briefly. For dinner we had this unbelievable Kreyol Beef Stew, with a glass of rum of course. Me and one of the other volunteers went back to the beach that night to drink some rum and kick it.

Then on my walk back to my house at night I saw some street goats playing on a staircase, butting heads and jumping from dirt mound to staircase to street to rubble pile, then to the street where two of them squared off for dominance slamming heads pouncing at one another with hooves like ten feet in front of me. The streets were totally empty at this point and the power of the street lights had been shut off and I felt like I was in a post apocalyptic mountain goat habitat. It was wild to watch. Had it really been post apocalyptic I guess I would have speared on to feed my kin but until then it was just fun to watch.

So that was it. Haiti’s awesome. I am actually now posting this two days after the fact. Yesterday and today have been full of stuff to write about as well that I will have to get to another time. Everyone take good care out there and I will see ya soon. Jerry

Sunday, March 7, 2010

MESS, LAKOU and Bumi Sehat

Hello dear friends,

Life here has been full and great, I have not really had the time to update so here it is...

I have been working with MESS, volunteering at their clinics and also as a mental health consultant. They actually implemented one of the ideas I mentioned, which is to set up regular healing circles for different age groups.
We had a meeting on Monday and on Wednesday they had set up a day of healing circles for about 100 children of all ages! It was really successful, I sat with the toddlers in a healing circle in cute little wooden chairs.

The newest project I am working on is bridging Bumi Sehat,the new traditional birthing center from Canada and Indonesia respectively,with Haitian women that are members of MESS. Specifically, women interested in peer counseling in the 5 different focuses Bumi Sehat has designated including: nutrition, family planning, joyful parenting, sexual violence and healthy pregnancy. I organized a meeting that took place last week for the two groups and over 50 women arrived at the dome! It was very exciting, and was also very successful. A few of the women who were present at the meeting have already begun to work side by side to assist in translating for the foreign midwives while they have worked in Jacmel area hospitals. The next step is to meet and plan out how to translate these group ideas into functional groups for Haitian women and where and how often they will take place.

I also helped plan a memorial for Flo that took place last night.It was a truly incredible night. First, we had food, drink, a live band complete with a giant finger piano and banjo and stories shared at the backside of FOSAJ, the art school Flo directed. We then held a vodou ceremony at La Saline,a gay vodou temple here in Jacmel. Their Mambo, Mambo Erez, is a lesbian who also runs 3 halfway houses for GLBT vodouans who no longer live with their families. It was really incredible. We had a candle light vigil in the temple and all held hands in a circle around the alter where we placed photos and other special items belonging to Flo. Yunel, a member of Lakou, sang a beautiful song and Mambo Erez then led the group in several songs of prayer and mourning. We finished off the night back at FOSAJ on the beach drinking Barbancourt and dancing while one of the FOSAJ artists Macarthur started painting a portrait of Flo.

Today I will be going to Port au Prince to attend a Women's March commemorating the lives of Magalie Marcelin, Myriam Merlet and Ann Marie Coriolan, 3 leaders of the women's movement here who lost their lives in the earthquake. I am planning to film this event as it should be yet another incredible day.

Another piece of exciting news is that some of my new friends from Jacmel are coming to the US next month.
The group is called LAKOU performance, they are an all queer dancing, drumming and singing troup. Alot of them are a part of the the gay houngfor at La Saline. Eleven members of Lakou will be in the US for possibly 3 months and I am trying to hook them up with cross country or at least west coast shows. They are coming to SF on April 18th to perform at Dance Mission's Cuba Caribe festival. LAKOU was a part of FOSAJ, but after the earthquake and Flo's death, FOSAJ kicked out all of the queer artists that Flo brought in!

They are now without a space and alot of them without homes. But they
are undeterred and they even practice in the streets! I could use any help in organizing shows for LAKOU across the US. Please get in touch with me if anyone can assist in setting up shows in the US for them, which includes hosting them. So far, they might perform at Thee Parkside in SF at a benefit my mother is setting up for MESS April 25th.

Whew, that's it for now.
Thanks so much for your love and support,

Ivy Jeanne

Jerry's newest update

Hello there.

None of us have been on the blog tip recently so here goes one. A lot has happened and changed and we are still crazy busy. I got CRRRAAAZZZY sick. Worse than I’ve ever been in my life. Seriously. Vomiting so hard that my body would propel upwards off the bed into the air with each mighty spew. I needed i.v.’s, anal suppositories and shots of Tylenol in my ass cheek. I had a 102 fever at one point. And I was pretty much horizontal for three and a half days. Whoa!!!

Luckily, I had two awesome supportive friends and five nurses and midwives hooking up the medical work. I Couldn’t have picked a better place to get sick than at Bumi Sehat, the birth center opening up in Jacmel,Haiti of which our group has taken some active roles in. I would have never gotten that treatment at home without racking up a 5 grand medical bill. Here I am in Haiti getting free and professional medical care. You’d think it was Canada. Well, with the continued occupation of Jacmel by the Canadian military it just might be the next one.

Now that that is over I have taken to returning to the birth center and am going to start building shelves for the medical supply room. It feels good to have something to do. I was feeling really homesick while I was vomit sick and uninspired but now that I am back in the game and have a project to get down on I have felt a lot better about being here for another couple weeks. And though I have critiques about the organization itself I ultimately think that it will be a positive force here. Today, with the networking done by MESS (the student group we have been working with) for Bumi Sehat, 35 women were seen for pre-natals. Ivy did an excellent job of getting the two groups connected so that they can begin what will hopefully be a long-term mutual collaboration. Way to go Ivy.

I got to see the awesome builder crew up at the dome comprised of one other foreigner and a group of Haitian guys that are getting paid to do a lot of the labor and building. What they can finish in the four days while I was sick is so awesome. A 9 foot deep by 5 foot wide hole for a water cistern, cement work around the entire dome to prevent flooding, and the supply room in the dome is almost fully done. The guys up there are totally cool. They were happy to see that I was better and tonight we all played music, hung out, and they even got me to dance, a feat that few have achieved.

Sadly, Waffle returned to the states. I have missed his presence. There is definetly a bond that forms when you travel out of your element long term with somebody, and it’s really too bad to not have him around for the remainder of my trip. Luckily, we live in the same region and will be kicking it soon enough.

The memorial service for Flo is tomorrow and I am sure that Ivy will have beautiful things to say about it afterwards and I will let her give the details. So keep watch for that blog.

I still feel that Haiti has given me more personally than I will be able to give back to it. This place is great. I already feel like it has changed my life, and my whole perspective on shit. Glad to be here, in these final two and a half weeks. If anyone knows about a boat I can catch some where off the island back to Florida let me know. JERRY

Sunday, February 28, 2010


I never got the chance to say this one thing, before i left for haiti i heard some peoples sentiments that they wouldn't want to aid in haiti because they wouldn't want to be another mouth to feed.Well since the first night arriving here and my time since i have never anywhere witnessed a food or water shortage in haiti.I have witnessed a money shortage, lack of work that predated the earthquake and has deepened since.So there's plenty of food, if you have money to buy it.It feels really good to spend money here ,when i buy food i know that the tiniest little bit of money is moving around town.That being said even on my best day of productive work here i constantly question my role,or if i should be here,or if the project i'm participating with is potentially harmful in ways i dont' yet understand.Sometimes i am reluctant to enter news on this blog because i dont want my thoughts to strongly lead your own thoughts on haiti. My scope of haiti is very narrow ,i only see whats in front of me ,i dont understand what is spoken around me,i feel my way through my days here and if i have an excellent day here in haiti ,it represents me it doesnt mean haiti is doing good.i can say the people of this land are strong ,but we already knew that in its history. today the birthing center started to build wooden walls and they moved some of the beds that we built into the dome clinic.i felt another earthquake here today while i was sitting in a woven chair, its my sixth one that i felt since ive been in haiti.i would encourage people to think twice before donating to doctors without borders in the future because their record here has been pathetic,i know alot of us wanted to love them.hope your well ,waffle

Friday, February 26, 2010

waffles little update

hi its been awhile since i updated a lot of recent great changes in our involvment here in haiti.i am not able to type fast so this blog thing is very difficult to stay up with.we are now working with an extraordinary project building a birthing center with a group called Bumi Sehat,their mission statement is a little wacky but the work and experience is had to describe.we are still working with MESS and ivy has been doing a fantastic job linking the right people up with one another to create strong working alliances.jerry and i have been building wooden bedframes for woman to give birth out of,we have been swinging hammers for three days its beautiful fullfilling work.we are doing incredible i have more to share if i new how to type faster thanks for all your support and we are activly still tring to fundraise for MESS.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

second turning point

so we had another significant breakthrough day.It came the morning after my personal worst night in haiti. i had given up wanting to help here in haiti because of discouragement, feeling homesick,depression, as well as feeling like my time here is great but i could possibly be more effective at home fundraising for mess as well as getting stuff in my personal life accomplished. Jerry was waking up early to go volunteer at the orphanage and convinced me to go, at this point i only wanted to stay at our house and paint on found metal or read or be alone, but i walked with Jerry across town and we split up and i was to meet him soon at the orphanage. I found Ivy at the library,she was in a meeting with some mess members brainstorming a mental health program they are about to launch in the jacmel area.Ivy looked so comfortable like she has been here doing this for three years.
on my way to the orphanage something happened that completly caught me off guard. A Haitian woman saw me from her house and opened the gate walked out and ask if i spoke english or french? I said english and then in english she said would you come in here and help us? I was shocked because no one yet has asked me for help. it took me a moment to respond.I said sure certainly.It had rained so hard the night before and their tent had leaked in several places.the tent is a huge standard really nice living room tent that the red cross had been handing out a month ago. coleman tents also been hooking it up.Disell was her name and she lived in Queens, New York for 18 years . I didnt understand why her tent leaked but i went around with two other fellas and took the remaining slack out of the ropes connected to the rain fly and dug a small water diverting trench. I was with this family maybe a half hour and it was really fun and at the end i said , "i don't know if that is going to help at all. Disell responded" That doesn't matter you are not a selfish person, we needed help and you stopped and helped us.Then she bought me a tampico juice drink. as i left i wondered how many creole speakers have asked me for help and i had no idea.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Donations Now Accepted!

Hello All,

We finally have our paypal account up and running!
It was quite a process, so we are so excited to finally have it up.
Please feel free to make your donations when you're ready.
We are still encouraging folks to set up any type of fundraising
event in your area. All proceeds go directly to organizations
including MESS that we have identified as being direct and
kickass. Thank you so much for your support!

With Love,
Waffle, Jerry and Ivy

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thoughts about media from Jerry

Hello folks. Hope you have enjoyed the writings so far on the blog. I wanted to write about my frustrations of the way the mainstream media was and probably still is for all I know depicting Haiti and their situation.

Before I arrived, my perspective as to how it was going to be here was very skewed. All you were seeing was death, destruction, riotous and mob behavior, and a depiction of the poor Haitian who would surely perish without our help. It’s been amazing to see how much the international community has pulled together to do something for Haiti. But it has been even more amazing to see how hard people here are working to simply live life as normally as possible. Whether it be sitting under a mango tree all day playing cards, cooking for each other, going to work and visiting the beach. Seriously, it blew my mind to see these things. I was given the impression that this was a warzone or something.

It is a real shame to realize that anything the population is doing to better them selves has not gotten the credit it deserves. Remember that it wasn’t just foreign workers who pulled people out of the rubble, farmers brought food down from the mountains, it hasn’t just been pre-packaged goods sent overseas that have nourished people. And it is not only death and carnage here. Where was CNN in Jacmel when the entire town marched through the streets in candle light and one song to commemorate the month anniversary of the quake? Or the beautiful voodou ceremony on the beach the following morning? Or to focus on groups like Cine Institute, KROSS, or MESS all groups working to better Haiti before and after the quake?

So this is already a longer rant than I was wanting to make so I will jump off here. But again there is one side of the coin that it has been extremely hard for the whole country and they still need so much help from the international community. But the other side is that it’s not a warzone and there is a huge amount of beautiful people and places, self-sufficiency and unshakeable strength here in Haiti.

Check out the Cine Institute website for videos made by Haitian film students in Jacmel. Hope to write again soon. Right now I need to chase these chickens out of my room. Take care everyone and keep Haiti in your thoughts.

Turning Point

This was written by Waffle last week but posted today)

Okay so today was our turning point .not yet quite a week ,it has been full of confusion ,laughter, heartache, directionlessness,beauty,friendship,overwhelmment,and being treated well by unbelievable hosts.we are in jacmel,a relentlessly beautiful city we have our own house a gift that flo left us.A lot of my time has felt like a vacation with little connection as to how I can be in solidarity relief with Haiti.today I even spoke with jerry about maybe coming home.but then something happened different today.

jerry and I woke up in our tent and studied Creole together then had an unsuccessful getting fresh water mission because it is the one month anniversary of the earthquake and some stores are closed for 3 days.we went to the soccer field in town were there is a large tent city, ten families to a big tent, many many big tents. there is a stage for musicians and commerce everywhere,and cooking and clothes washing .then in camp a truck showed up to pass out large bags filled with small individual bags of water .pushing started and water bags began to burst under pressure over fighting for water bags.the truck left and some people put the water in coolers to sell. One man become passionately upset over free water getting sold because in the camp some people have means and others not, and the people with means have enough water so they can afford to sell their free water and therefore have more and more means.the passionate man began arguing and a big man started to fight him which lead to knives drawn and intensity.the knife fight got broke up with no cut skin


jerry and I left to volunteer at an orphanage that has 12 young children with aids or mental disabilities.12 sounds small but it’s a work out .we colored with 6 kids and that shit was crazy one girl insisted on making each crayon into 5 crayons and then all the kids wanted full length crayons.we made some hand print turkeys. I got a phone callsay meet in the plaza at 5pm or a meeting ,this is collin.it was confusing cause I didn’t remember a Collins and the word meeting just wasn’t anything that I have experienced this week.jerry left the orphanage and got lost and wound up at the beach, I left after and went to the plaza and then this meeting made since .three nights ago ivy and I first went in a tent city we meet Collin a collage student who was a camp coordinator and he took my number and said they needed help and we mention that we still had 50 pounds of supplies like first aid and hygiene, but it was so casual.so this meeting was of 11 college students that are called MESS .we said we would only take up 5 minutes of there meeting and then let them do there thing and then a translator said No, we are here because this meeting is for you so we all can unite in a bigger effort .

That moment was unbelievable it was the turning point .they had bullet points of what they do and introductions they set up fight germ program in the camps and STD programs and about to do family by family surveys of there needs list. They set up a mobile clinic. the are meeting us tomorrow to pick up the supplies and to give us a price estimate for pens and notebooks to conduct these surveys and then we are going to put it on the blog and they need ivy to be in camp to do grievance counseling cause most Haitian counselors are compromised.

We left the meeting .started home and in the night began a one month anniversary candle street procession .Thousands walking down narrow street singing singing singing. I then felt the loss I felt the healing the whole town was singing in the street I was crying Jerry wasWhere was CNN where was fox this needed to be seen .we have nothing like this at home ,maybe second line in new Orleans. It was so special and we walked home united and got soda and cooked our first dinner together and layed down to sleep.

So general news Haiti is beautiful, beautiful the people light up when you say hello. There is no food or water shortage you can buy it everywhere, if you have the money to buy it. People still sleep out side because of tremors some peoples houses are fine some like fine from the outside but are destroyed inside its weird and hard to explain. And some houses are leveled.

Haiti has electric between 7pm and 11pm before the earthquake it was from 2pm to 2am and some people own 6 volt batteries like at my house and they got charged while the electric is on. Life is moving on as normal but its all outside and has different difficulties then the difficulties prior to the earth quake .as a visitor Jacmel is paradise old beautiful and busted .the most anarchy I have ever experience and the anarchy has nothing to do with the earthquake it just that this place is amazing amazing amazing .it is so amazing.

I have a cell phone that cost $14 dollars and is totally free to receive calls anyone can call an its absolutely free to me you can use skpye or a phone card my number is 011-509—345-1-1966 sometimes you don’t have to dial the 3 call anytime but morning and nights are best because during the day im around a lot of motor cycles and loud things call me and I can tell you whats going on and you can fill me in about home. C YA WAFFLE

Monday, February 15, 2010

How you can help in Jacmel

Hello friends and family,

It's been a week since our arrival in Haiti. We have experienced a lot and made a lot of new friends and contacts. One of which being the "Mouvement des Etudiants du Sud 'Est pur le Soutien" or (MESS), no pun intended. MESS was formed by a group of students originally from Jacmel who were attending ten different universities in the Port au Prince area. This coalition of students, who studied a broad range of subjects from law to engineering to nursing, were all displaced due to the January 12 earthquake. In response to the disaster, the above mentioned students decided to form a coalition to provide a broad scale of assistance to disaster victims in their hometown of Jacmel, Haiti.

Despite the incredible barriers they have formed a board and delegated projects to their coalition members which include: donation distribution within the tent cities, a mobile health clinic that focuses on wound care, STI screening and vaccinations. They have also initiated public health interventions and outreach surrounding issues of hygiene and sanitation, STI and HIV prevention, mental health grievance counseling and primary health care.

A longer term project that is now in the works is a survey they have created to assess the needs of individual families living in tent cities in the Jacmel area. This survey would be used to identify and meet the specific needs of each family affected by the earthquake. Currently, the way goods and services have been distributed has been highly problematic. For example, a truck of random supplies has created an uneven and haphazard enviroment for tent city residents including eruptions of violence over basic survival needs and tension between familiies who have more resources than others. This survey is an attempt at distributing goods and services more evenly to to better serve the community.

MESS has prepared a proposal including an itemized budget of which we have a copy of. Some of the items included are office supplies and photocopy fees to conduct the surveys. They also need megaphones, DJ equipment and a video projector to be used as outreach tools. By purchasing the goods here in Haiti, it helps to stimulate the local economy, crucial at this moment in time.

We are establishing a paypal account to link up to our blog to help fundraise for projects including MESS. Please feel free to donate what you can and to forward our blog far and wide. So far, there are a fundraisers being organized but many more will be needed. If you are interested in organizing a fundraiser in your area please contact us at:


Our goal is to raise $3,500 USD to contribute to their larger goal of $11,ooo USD. Thank you all for your support in our solidarity efforts with MESS. Please keep Haiti in your thoughts as they begin to rebuild.

We have just created our paypal account so please wait to send your donations for 5 business days from today. If you have any questions you can write us at the above mentioned email or post a comment on this blog.

- Ivy, Jerry and Waffle

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beginning to help in Jacmel

We started our volunteer work today here in Jacmel.
First, we went over to Lia Van Der Donk's orphanage
and got to meet and play with all of the high energy kids.
We then hoisted a dozen cribs and other furniture using rope over their balcony.
It was incredible to see their set up, they were donated a couple of
white dome tents from Lia's home country of Holland.

We were then off to help out a nurse and community organizer by the name of
Raisa Boucard, she set up a spirit lifting soccer match in the main plaza in town.
The 2 cheerleaders had no pom poms and they were so sad about it!
So we took action and made them out of pink and blue plastic bags.
We then went to see the game and the cheering cheerleaders!
The game was also to honor a team of Cuban doctors posted here in Jacmel.

We have a lot of leads on future volunteer work including large scale feedings in the mountains and counseling work in the camps. It's been wonderful to be here.
So many old friends and so many brand new ones.
The biggest immediate need I see is money. Folks who we've met up with could use money to buy what they need locally and jumpstart the economy.
I will be setting up a paypal very soon.
So benefits and more fundraising would be wonderful. Many thanks to you all for your love and support.

-Ivy Jeanne

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Jerry's First observations and thoughts

Hello everyone this is Jerry. One of the trio on this here trip to Haiti. I thought it would be a good idea to write tonight. Not only to give an idea to other folks how it's been going but to also put down some of my thoughts, observations and stories down before they all cram together and drift to the back of the mind as the past two days have been intense and I doubt they will get any less so. We arrived in Santo Domingo after an intense no sleep night packing up copious amounts of supplies to donate. After a good half hour of fumbling around trying to shift things in and out of bags to stay in the 50 lb. weight limit for baggage we made it through.

We found a great cabbie to take us downtown. The only way I can describe the driving is Dukes of Hazzard meets Richard Petty on cocaine. Everybody drives awsomely fast and wild. It's great. He haggled another great ride for us to the border on a bus crammed to the brim with people. The Haitian woman I sat next to gave me the chance to practice all that kreyol I've learned. Needless to say I have a long way to go. She was very nice though and we were able to do some very minor small talk. Journeying through the Dom. Rep. was really great.

Some of my observations were, a motorcycle parade, kids playing with toy cars made of oil cans, a bike race,lots of people jumping on the sides of the bus to sell oranges, croquetas,candy,water riding for a couple blocks selling and then jumping off, two chickens being butchered on the side walk, and a beautiful landscape. The only thing was the money handler who stood in the middle of the bus kept attempting to use Ivy's head as an arm rest and randomly staring people down and screaming. I don't know if he was really angry or just passionate about something. What was up with that dude?

The border was soooo intense. Lots of people wanting to carry your bags for a fee and grabbing your stuff. It was wierd because I have never traveled with so much stuff. Bags and bags of stuff. Almost none of which was mine, but for donations. But yeah I aint ever had to deal with keeping track of and transporting that much stuff. It took a Haitian-American named Hubert and his friend Sherline to argue with the passport and entrance fee personel to give us the normal rate and not triple because were United Statesians. Thanks to them. Hubert was from Virginia, my homestate. VA is for lovers and he proved it.

It would be inaccurate to say Maile has been our host as really her and her husband Andy's whole huge family has been great to us but she truly has been there for us on a maximum level. Picking us up from the border, showing us around town, getting us aquainted with the new faces, constant translations, and just all around teacher. Such an incredible lady, whom I already feel permanetly indebted too.

Well that brings us to getting to the border. Yesterday's experience more to come on the present and the future soon. I wish that I could really lay it all out there, all the feelings, stories and thoughts I have been experiencing but that may have to wait till another post/zine/phonecall. Take care all out there in the blogosphere. Hearts and Fists, Jerry

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jacquie Charles Memorial article for Magalie Marcelin

Here is another link to an article by reporter Jacquie Charles which
appeared in both the Miami Herald and on the Repeating Islands blog:


Wall Street Journal Obituary for Flo (pt 3)

On Jan. 12, Mr. McGarrell stopped off at the Hotel Peace of Mind here with an American friend, Sue Frame, to get online and have lunch.
When the quake struck, Ms. Frame, a 35-year-old Chicago artist, yelled 'run.' They both bolted for the door, but Mr. McGarrell ran back for something, likely his computer, said Ms. Frame.
For days, Ms. Frame, Mr. Chery, and others dug into the debris. They quickly found the corpse of another person, but they couldn't find Mr. McGarrell's body.
After five days, a team of search-and-rescue workers from the Bogotà, Colombia, fire department took over. On Tuesday, almost a week to the minute after the quake struck, Mr. McGarrell's cadaver was finally found.
Ms. Frame and Mr. Chery spent that night on the airport tarmac, next to a body bag holding the remains of their friend. 'I just experienced the worst week of my life,' said Ms. Frame, sitting on the tarmac, smoking a cigarette. 'But I also experienced an incredible amount of love. Now I know why Flo loved this place.'
On Wednesday, more than 200 people from three continents attended a memorial service for Mr. McGarrell at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

—Christopher Rhoads

Wall Street Journal Obituary for Flo (pt 2)

Mr. McGarrell was born female but identified as male and switched his name from Flora to Flores.
'Flo,' as everyone called him, 'was a real celebrity here,' said Lionel Pierre, who works in Jacmel for U.S. nongovernmental organization ACDI/VOCA. 'He was on the fringe, but people here came to respect that. I think he found a home.'
Mr. McGarrell was born in Rome to expatriate artist parents. When he was eight the family moved to the U.S. He received degrees at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he later taught, and a second masters of fine arts at the school of the Chicago Art Institute. He was a founding member of the performance art group Little Big Bang, which performed in museums and on the streets of Baltimore and Washington.
'Flo was an amazing artist,' said Claudel Chery, nicknamed Zaka, who was Mr. McGarrell's assistant and also lived in the FOSAJ warehouse. 'But it's about who he was. He accepted everyone.'
Mr. McGarrell saw FOSAJ as a way to empower Haitians through art, literacy and sustainable agriculture. 'He gave everything he could to Haiti,' said Mr. Chery, 22. Including his life."

Wall Street Journal Obituary for Flo (pt 1)

Americas News
Wall Street Journal
January 24, 2010
9:07 AM E.T.

Flo McGarrell, Artist.

JACMEL, Haiti—The artist Flo McGarrell, 35, had wanted to come here since he was 11 years old, when he saw a film about Haitian voodoo.
That desire became a reality several years ago, when Mr. McGarrell traveled here as a videographer. He wrote his parents: 'I've come home!'
In 2008, he moved to this seaside city as the director of a nonprofit art center, FOSAJ. Summers were mostly spent in Newbury, Vt., where his parents live and where he could work in his studio and garden in peace.
In Jacmel, it was the opposite. The art center, a former coffee warehouse where he also lived, teemed with students and friends. That made the art produced there collaborative, he once told an interviewer. Mr. McGarrell's creative output ranged from inflatable sculptures to a film about a 1921 Soviet uprising. The film, 'Maggots & Men,' featured transgender actors.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

News about Magalie's death

Here's a link to the wonderful Vital Voices blog memorializing
Magalie Marcelin, Myriam Merlet and Anne Marie Coriolan...


Preparing to leave for Jacmel, Haiti

I am getting ready to leave for Jacmel, Haiti
for 6 weeks come this Sat morning at 6 AM.
In the Jan. 12th earthquake I lost two dear friends, Flo McGarrell-
director of FOSAJ, a free art school in Jacmel, and Magalie Marcelin-
one of the founders of Haiti's Women's Movement and founder of Kay Fanm (kreyol for Woman House), a domestic violence shelter and additionally a group home for girls who are survivors
of sexual assault. She was also an actress, a lawyer, and an all around bad ass.

I was already planning a trip down to Haiti to work with both Flo and Magalie at their
respective organizations and to work on a documentary about Magalie and Kay Fanm.
I was due to leave Feb. 1st. The devastation in Haiti is so huge,
the loss of Flo and Magalie is as well.

I decided to go down there anyways to help with the relief effort and will be leaving with a couple of South Florida activists, Jerry Gildea of Miami and Waffle of Lake Worth, FL. We are going to meet up with Magalie's surviving daughter, Maile Alphonse in Port au Prince, then onto Jacmel, Haiti where we will begin by volunteering with the Cine' Institute and an orphanage for children with special needs. We were able to gather up some donations to bring with us while
helping out at one of the donation warehouses in Little Haiti in Miami and other donations came in from Lake Worth, FL.

We will be using this blog to keep in touch with our friends, family and beyond.
We will try to update it as often as possible with photos and words.
When it comes up, we will reach out for support in a variety of ways.
Everything and anything helps- money, clothes, toys, medicine, you name it.
I will upload links to the organizations we will be working with in the very near future.
Lots of Love,
Ivy Jeanne