The Rotary Club has partnered with the Fort Lauderdale sister cities program for a concert that raised money for sustainable development projects in Cap Haitien, a coastal town in northern Haiti that is a sister city to Fort Lauderdale.
Haitian drummers joined the orchestra for two songs at the concert.
The proceeds from the event are to fund a portable water project for Cap Haitien, a computer learning center for students, and a robotics program to get junior high school students interested in math and science.
Those at the benefit were hopeful about making a difference in Haiti.
Enceau Fatal, one of the Haitian drummers, told VOA he hopes his country will soon see positive results. "As a Haitian, I know Haiti right now got a lot of problems right now, so what is important to me is to be in there to participate...I hope new projects come out after this tonight to bring a change for Haiti in the future," he said.
Nineteen-year-old Steve Zarchin is from Cap Haitien studying business in the United States on a scholarship from the sister cities program. He would like to put the skills he acquires to good use back home. "I want to do something for my country because Haiti is in a critical condition. This is my dream, to go back to Haiti and help Haiti," he said.
Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is plagued with violence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and problems with infrastructure, electricity and clean water.
Louis Noisin, who founded a university in Cap Haitien, told VOA about efforts he is involved in to create jobs outside the capital city. "What we try to do is to deconcentrate Port-au-Prince and put jobs out and help people back to their own birthplace. You have a lot of people from the north in Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince now is a city of almost two-million inhabitants, and it was a city built for 800,000 people," he said.
Haitian musician and poet Kiki Wainwright says Haiti needs all the help it can get. "The infrastructure in Haiti it doesn't exist anymore because we need some more institutions, solid institutions, so the country can go ahead," he says.
He also says he believes first that the violence in Port-au-Prince must be contained and then perhaps investors and tourists will return.