News / Americas

Haitian Group in Chicago Unites in Relief Efforts

Five months after devastating earthquake killed hundreds of thousands, need for supplies great for million more who are homeless

Lionel Jean-Baptiste of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, a Haitian aid agency based in Evanston, Illinois
Lionel Jean-Baptiste of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, a Haitian aid agency based in Evanston, Illinois

Multimedia

Kane Farabaugh

The City of Chicago has a historic connection to Haiti.  Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, considered the city's founding father, was a fur trader from the Caribbean nation who settled in Chicago in the late 1700s.  Now, roughly 30,000 Haitians call Chicago home.  Disaster and tragedy has brought the community together in recent years.  First a hurricane, and now this year's catastrophic earthquake, have mobilized Chicago's Haitian community to help fellow countrymen in their homeland.

Five months after a devastating earthquake killed hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti's capital Port au Prince, the need for supplies is great for the million more who are homeless.

Since the crisis began, Lionel Jean-Baptiste has been at the center of an ongoing relief effort in suburban Chicago.

Baptiste founded the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti, a community organization based in Evanston, Illinois.  The group formed in 2004, a tumultuous year for Haiti.

"Aristide was being removed from power, we were trying to celebrate 200 years of independence," he explained.  "Hurricane Jeanne was hitting us.  So we had a lot of partisanry and division within the community.  But somehow we came together to pragmatically do some work to help our brothers and sisters face their reality."

But nothing could prepare the group for the reality of the January earthquake and the devastation it brought. Baptiste mobilized Chicago's Haitian community to help those in need.

"We called on people to collect medical supplies, medicine that's over the counter, clothing, crutches, etcetera," he recalled.  "We put out a press release, and we began the process of mobilizing folks, so we have stayed mobilized since day one."

Money, medicine and other donations have poured into the organization's office. Baptiste says the group raised over one million dollars in cash and medicine.

By April, the organization had accumulated enough items to fill four large shipping containers.

But when the containers arrived in Haiti, they were delayed in customs.  To help clear the logjam, members from Chicago traveled to Port au Prince to make sure the supplies got to those in need.

"We helped over 10,000 families through camps, organizations, churches, orphanages, individuals, etcetera," noted Aline Lauture, Executive Director of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.  She led the group's recent mission to Haiti.

"We didn't see a lot of movement of rebuilding," she added.  "We just saw the rubble, they just cleared most of it to the side of the street, but we didn't see a lot of the rebuilding process started."

Lauture was surprised that people in the capital have managed to move on despite the lack of infrastructure.

"They have their commerce. They are selling their goods.  Life is moving. Under the worst circumstances, they keep moving," she said.

And her group keeps accepting donations. It plans to deliver new medical supplies and other items during a trip scheduled later this year.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Pope Beatifies Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers converge on Salvadoran capital to witness papal declaration for late Oscar Romero - now one step from Roman Catholic sainthood
More

Scores Killed in Western Mexico Gunfight

Officials say almost every person killed in Michoacan state shootout was a suspected gang member
More

Latest US-Cuban Talks Ends in Washington

Both sides cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties, but no final agreement reached
More

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More

Lawmakers Question Normalization Effort With Cuba

On eve of next round of US-Cuba talks, Senator Bob Menendez calls engagement 'one-sided'
More