Hurricane Sandy: Look to Haiti, not NY

The hurricane Sandy has caught the eye of the world.

“What is Sandy?” Someone might ask.

“The disaster that hit New York and even stopped the presidential campaigns!”

I must interrupt this thought and say something. “Look to Haiti, not New York. They have been so devastated by Sandy. More than 200,000 without homes, entire villages washed away, a national famine on its way and a surge of cholera spreading out”.

“Oh dear, I didn’t know that. But they always have disasters don’t they?”

“Yes, and you want to know why they always have disasters? Nature is angry, because we are poisoning it. And everyone we are all paying for this. Take a look at this graph: who is the number 1 poisoner?”

“Hmm, the US?”

“Correct, and where is Haiti there?”


“Exactly, Haiti is not developed enough to produce a lot of poison.”

“Yet they suffer the most, because their lack of development means less capacity to protect from natural disasters.”

“You are right. That is why I believe that the producers of poison should pay for the consequences. There should be some sort of Global Fund against global warming. After all, poison is the engine that gives them a lot of money.”

Take a thought. An article at the UN Dispatch Blog opened my eyes to this: “Things are certainly bad in the Northeast of the USA. But the situation is orders of magnitudes worse in Haiti right now. Spare a thought (or a few dollars) for them.”

The media draws attention to what gives them money and audience, of course. I am not here to criticise the media or the US, but to be a voice in the desert. Here are some things you can do: (1) pray, (2) be an activist against global warming, (3) study the causes of problems, who knows if you will be the new Luther King or Gandhi, (4) be aware and raise awareness, (5) donate, (6) volunteer.

Let us look to those who are in need and do something, even if that means reading a blog post such as this and giving it a thought.

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Never Lose Hope

Almost two years have passed since the January 12th earthquake devastated most of the Port au Prince and Leogan area, and much continues unchanged.

When foreigners come, they see at first-hand that the catastrophe was not the source, but only a catalyst of the already existing social-economic problems plaguing the Island. The most asked question is “is there hope?”

After seeing endless tent cities still housing six hundred thousand people, heaps of trash on most streets and what seems to be a society built on chaos, it is difficult for people to see hope.

Remy - Music Teacher

Remy is one of the persons that makes me see hope. He is the example that people are creative, take initiative and can influence society to change. Remy is a guitar player who decided to take action rather than wait, and dedicate himself to help others. He decided to teach music/guitar to children from tent cities as a way to give them an education and also give them safe haven from the harmful environment they must face everyday.

At the beginning of this year, after the Haiti Music School workshops, he began the course. He had no guitars, no paper, no chalkboard or anything to teach with. But he had hope, and a group of 15 children eager to learn.

After some donations from Brazil were organized to support Remy’s idea, now there are seven guitars that he is using to teach kids. He is teaching them every Monday, with a bright smile on his mouth and knowing what he is doing is helping some children to have hope to their future.

Perhaps he is a long shot from the music school that he would like to have, with not much structure or materials to teach the kids. But at least he is doing what very few are willing to do and is living proof that there is hope.

Written by Ruben Celeti – working in Port-au-Prince with MAIS // Edited by Matheus Ortega – Global Changemaker

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Seeds and Trees

It is with great joy that I can say that the seed of the Haiti Music School is now becoming a beautiful growing tree.

A young man called Remy, one of the most talented musicians that were part of the workshop in January, will now initiate guitar classes with about 15 children in the camps. He will be supported by Ruben Celeti, who is a full-time worker from MAIS, to establish the classes and spread out knowledge, opportunities, and hope to dozens of people.

Donate your old guitar and help the Haiti Music School

“Since January 2011, the Haiti Music School was launched to capacitate teachers to impact their communities through music. Today, some haitian musicians will expand this project to teach children at the camps, and they need old guitars so that more children might have a chance to learn.”

“You can help donating your old guitar!”

TO DONATE and plant a seed in Haiti:

Take your guitar to Rua Joaquim Tavora, 652 – Vila Mariana, São Paulo, Brazil – or contact me at

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Sustainable Hope

Coming back from an extraordinary experience at the World Economic Forum, my greatest challenge now is to make the Haiti Music School a scalable, efficient, and sustainable project.

Haiti: the poorest country of the western hemisphere, unemployment levels reaching its highest rates, a place where people still suffer from the tragic earthquake that ruined the nation.

The Haiti Music School started in January, 2011, a symbol of hope to the nation, a project that reached about 80 people in Port-au-Prince. It was a 5-day workshop in which we taught music theory, guitar, keyboards, drums and flute. We donated more than 100 instruments, and dedicated ourselves to pass on the knowledge to the Haitian musicians, so that they would teach young people and generate opportunities for the future of the community.

“So, what now?” I hear from many people.

“Now that the seed is planted, we just need to hope that they water it so it grows.”

I believe that sustainable development of poor communities depends much on the effort of the community leaders and the people’s motivation. That is why music is such a relevant tool to make this happen – it reaches people’s hearts.

Anyhow, it is an enormous challenge to have a structure and daily classes in the Music School. The teachers have methods, instruments, and students. But they lack the building and the organization to make something ordered and frequent. As I talked to Mark Johnson, from Playing for Change at the World Economic Forum, I tried to make a partnership so that the Music School might be built. I learned that if we want to reach higher, we must be willing to share our dreams with others and walk together with them.

Haiti needs help, and the problem is far from over. But what I hope is that the people have motivation to live, inspiration to dream, and courage to reconstruct the nation.

So I heard Keiichiro Asao, a Member of the House of Representatives of Japan, say in a speech about disaster relief: in a moment like this, all we need is hope. People need hope to find strength to live.”

So may hope be our language, may it be what we spread to the world, even when there seems to be no light on the end of the tunnel.

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This is the story of Sophanie, a 9-year-old Haitian orphan girl that was adopted by the Ryan Epps Home in Michaud, Haïti.

Written by: Al and Valerie Carpenter

While we were in Haiti a week ago the most significant event was the addition of the 13th child to Ryan Epps Home for Children. Nine-year old Sophanie became the most recent member of the family. As we heard her story, we were really reminded why God has called us and others to this work.

Sophanie’s mother had died and her father did not care for her. She was cleaning homes and cooking for people so she could have enough money to buy food. She had been abused.

Sophanie- girl in the middle

As she broke into sobs on Sunday as she tried to share her testimony, Sophanie shared how she hid in the bathroom one day and prayed to God that He would save her from this life she was living. Praise God for the answered prayer. As we watched Sophanie play and interact with her new brothers and sisters, we realized how dramatically her life had changed in only a few weeks. Sophanie now has the opportunity to grow up in a loving family in a safe home with brothers and sisters to enjoy. She will have healthy meals each day and will attend school for the first time. For Sophanie and other children at Ryan Epps Home, they now have the chance to become responsible citizens who will one day become a part of the New Haiti. We pray that God will continue to use Ryan Epps Home to change the lives of other children who need this same opportunity.

The Ryan Epps Home is a safe haven for orphaned boys and girls in Haiti. Our ways have crossed as we fight for the same objective – changing the reality of the nation by giving new life opportunities to young Haitians.

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Playing for Haiti

“You can be far, but that does not mean you are not close.”

I have not been in Haiti for 3 months now, but I remember the face of every friend I met in that nation. I know how they are special and how their affection for all of us is sincere and real.

I am currently working on the Documentary Film about Haiti (which is intended to be completed by the end of 2011), and planning a very interesting Photography Project with the partnership of Canon, Copa Airlines, and MAIS.

I also believe that the Ortegas have an important role in the reconstruction of the Haitian nation. Next monday, we will play together with the well-known Brazilian artist Kleber Lucas in a Fundraising event for Haiti.

Even 5,500 kilometers away, we can still help, impact, make a change.

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How can we impact people, change the world, make the difference, and truly transform our reality?

Two things happened these days that will change my life:

1. I was accepted for postgraduate study of International Development at the London School of Economics.

2. I was invited to be a participant of the World Economic Forum in Rio next month.

I am still shocked with these news. I am doing my best to study, grow, learn, increase my network, in order to make a change in this world. Nothing great comes without much effort. But I am confident about what I want, and I will give my life to achieve it.

I hope to one day change the reality of millions of people in poverty, living in misery.

This is who I am. A young musician, with many dreams, many ideas, trying my best to make a positive impact wherever I go. =)


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