MIAMI – Haitians living in the United States on Wednesday recalled the victims of the powerful earthquake that devastated Haiti a year ago with religious and cultural events, as well as tributes to organizations who participated in the rescue efforts.
The main events on the first anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, temblor took place in South Florida, where the largest Haitian population in the United States – 376,000 people – lives.
The first Haitian-American elected to the Miami-Dade County Commission, Jean Monestime, paid tribute to assorted community agencies and to compatriot Karls Paul-Noel, assistant chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
Paul-Noel, one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2010,” carried out an active search and rescue operation after the magnitude-7.0 quake in his homeland, which killed 300,000 people and left 1.2 million others homeless.
Monestime emphasized on Wednesday that many individuals from “various ethnic groups sacrificed their personal time with their families to help the victims of this terrible earthquake; the residents of Miami-Dade (County) are ordinary people doing extraordinary work.”
Another of the events planned in Miami is the inauguration of a 5,000-square-foot mural that depicts the history of Haiti and contains images such as the hand of God, voodoo, the Caribbean nation’s flag and the first Haitian slave.
The MLK Community Mural Project is located on a corner in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood.
“I think the people are grateful for this, since this came from the heart. I think MLK hit the nail on the head; we have everything in here, past present, and future,” one of the lead artists on the project, Kevin Morris, said.
The MLK Community Mural Project is an international program that has created more than 250 murals all over the world, including Haiti.
Haitian radio host and Haitian DJ Salusa Basquin, meanwhile, on Wednesday morning began a bicycle trip from Palm Beach to Little Haiti.
While making the ride, Basquin has stopped at schools and city halls to talk about his country and the hope he has for a better future.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Miami on Wednesday night will celebrate a Mass in Creole, English and Spanish in honor of the victims, while Florida International University will host several events, including a forum concerning Haiti’s recovery a year after the quake.
Students, professors and workers at FIU will join in asking for a moment of silence all over the world to honor the victims in Haiti, and they will also ring bells, perform a candle ceremony and watch the film “Ayiti Leve” (“Haiti Rise”).
In addition to these events, there will also be painting and photography exhibitions by Haitian and U.S. artists at different South Florida museums and galleries. EFE