When I was growing up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, life was simple but great. On an island where some of the poorest people of the Americas live, I had an upbringing to die for that was rich in culture, values and human kindness.
My parents were missionaries at heart and dedicated to working with people, so through them I felt connected to the reality of life and to people in a tangible way. At such a young age, I was fortunate to be unaware of a political reality that would have hindered my thinking and reduced my big picture view of the world, thus ruining my adoration for Haiti.
I learned from books after books and teachers after teachers about everything from biology to chemistry to math to physics, I loved physics in particular for its tangible and practical application to daily life. I learned geography, which instilled in me a passion for the world and of Haiti. History went hand in hand with geography, which paired my love for maps with people who lived in those maps in my imagination. I learned about literature of other countries as well as Haiti. I learned English, Spanish and Latin. I learned even more from the every day street activities and vibrancy of daily life of the city of Port-au-Prince and the different parishes in the countryside where my father was stationed at various times.
I learned the piano, the cello, the harmonica and the Conga. I played soccer, volleyball and basketball, even ping-pong and badminton on a court that I built myself with a friend. Daily life in Haiti, with at times no electricity and no water, made me aware of the most simple and elemental facets of life. That is why I feel fortunate to have been raised in Haiti. In the aftermath of the tragic earthquake of January 2010, I began to focus on The Haitian Youth Music Relief project which came out of a forum I established to support Haitian students at Loyola University in New Orleans. During our discussion about ways to contribute to the relief efforts, we came up with the Haitian Youth Music Relief to help replace some of the lost instruments to the students and music schools as a result of the instruments. The project has so far helped bring nearly 1,000 instruments to kids in Haiti.
So far, I have coordinated three relief missions to Haiti distributing instruments with the support of more than thirty volunteers as way to help heal wounds of those who have lost so much. We are delighted to continue to receive instruments and tax-deductible funds through the Haitian Youth Music Relief Web site at haitianyouthmusicrelief.org. Our efforts continue: Presently, we need a plane to bring at least 1,000 more instruments and other music materials such as books and accessories that we have collected here in New Orleans. They are still waiting to be delivered.
The project has reached out to at least 25 music schools throughout Haiti. The need there is still great and this need for more resources—including qualified music teachers and instruments—will continue for years to come. Please give a helping hand to the efforts of healing those who have survived and are in need of hope for a better future. Every little bit helps.