Getting Help to Haiti
What I Have Learned about Haiti from Authentic Journalist Reed Lindsay, and What We Can Do to Help at this Hour of Need
By Charlie Hardy
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
January 17, 2010
I can’t watch more TV reports from Haiti. I simply want to do something to help. I think I have found the best way for me to do that.
In 2003, I met Reed Lindsay in Mexico at the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism. At the time, he was a free-lance journalist working in Argentina, a student at the journalism school. I was a professor-but I felt Reed knew a lot more than I did about journalism.
From that moment on, I watched from a distance as Reed moved throughout the world. I watched him watching, listening, and writing. But most of all I observed his desire to be with the people whose stories he was capable of telling to English readers.
Reed was thinking about moving to Venezuela and told me that if he did he wanted to live in a barrio and not in an apartment as most foreign journalists do, separated from the reality of the ordinary people. He asked me for advice.
I told Reed he should think about moving to Brazil. He spoke Spanish; learning Portuguese would open the whole continent to him for future reporting. He thought about it during a trip to the United States.
When Reed returned to Venezuela, he shared his decision with me: he was going to Haiti. That was 2004. He had been there shortly before the president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced out of the country by the United States. Haiti was in turmoil. He said he felt the truth wasn’t getting out of Haiti. The next day he went to a local travel agency and bought a plane ticket.
Reed had brought me a book as a gift. I asked him to sign it, and while I didn’t say anything to him, I wondered if I would ever see him again alive.
But Reed did survive and the next time I saw him in Venezuela I asked him if he had learned French. He told me that people spoke Creole in Haiti. That is what he was learning. Creole! There are over 178,000,000 people in the world that speak Portuguese. Reed was learning the Haitian Creole-maybe eight million people speak it-a dot in the world population.
But that dot seemed to fill Reed’s heart. Soon he was not only reporting news from Haiti but he and Haitian friends had started a school for kids who couldn’t get into the regular schools. Then he got family members and friends to start collecting money so he could buy food to provide a meal for the children. Their mothers became the school cooks.
With the help of friends in the U.S., he started a non-profit organization known as the Honor and Respect Foundation. (The name was inspired by a Haitian tradition in which a visitor to somebody’s house calls out “Honor” and receives the answer “Respect.”)
Reed is now working in Washington, D.C., as the bureau chief for Telesur, a Latin American television network. But he returned to Haiti this week and to his old neighborhood, not only to report on what he was seeing, but to work with the people in their survival efforts.
I got an e-mail from the Honor and Respect Foundation yesterday and I immediately sent a donation. They have no overhead; I know the money will go directly to help the people in Haiti. I feel a bit less frustrated today. I feel I am doing something to help. The people in Haiti are my brothers and sisters. No, better, they are I. As Carl Sandburg wrote in the prologue to The Family of Man:
“There is only one man in the world and his name is All Men. There is only one woman in the world and her name is All Women. There is only one child in the world and the child’s name is All Children.”
If you feel something of what I feel today, please go directly to the Honor and Respect Foundation website, http://www.hrfhaiti.org for more information.
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