haiti: this time it's personal

Those of you who have been reading Chookooloonks for a while know that for the past two years, I've spent a summer weekend each year with several good friends on the west coast, just resting and retreating.  The first year I went, back in 2008, I only knew two of the women, and one of the first new friends I made was Myriam.

I immediately liked Myriam.  She has a warm, generous spirit and a wicked wit; in addition, we share a common trait:  whenever we speak of our mothers, we immediately slip into our native West Indian accents.  You already know I'm from Trinidad & Tobago; as it happens, Myriam is Haitian.

When I learned of the earthquake in Haiti two weeks ago, my thoughts immediately turned to Myriam.  I sent her a one-line email, copying the rest of our group:  "Myriam, is your family okay?"

It was several hours before we heard back from her:

Hello Loves,
I have been trying to write this email to you most of this day. I don't know what to write about this devastation happening to our sisters and brothers on that tiny island.
I do have family in Haiti, aunts, uncles etc. As of yet, we are not able to make contact.


We all stayed close to our emails, and a few days later, Myriam sent us this:


As of today:
My uncle Victor and Tante Mado both separately support two schools in Haiti, both have been demolished,  many dead.. My uncle is housing as many children from the school as he can, all are disconnected from their own families. The shortage of water and food is chaotic and the trauma experienced is only just beginning to be understood.
My Tante Mado has 52 school girls without homes, living at the remains of their school.  Another aunt, continues to wait for communication with her sister whom she was on the phone with when the quake started. It's very confusing what the best help is right now as it seems nothing is enough. Communication is so difficult, we are getting reports of deaths without any real confirmations. It is possibly the worst freakin game of grapevine every played. My heart just aches and aches, while my head spins with thoughts of how to empower myself and use all of my resources.
In speaking with family, funding is the most vital. Some are thinking beyond the disaster recovery to rebuilding homes, schools and churches...


Now, under normal circumstances, I would never ask you guys to give money to a specific cause -- I know that you all are incredibly generous, and I've received many comments and emails from you over the years about the charities and organizations that you passionately support; for this reason, I've never felt it necessary to entreat you to give to any of the causes that are specifically important to me.  But these don't feel like normal circumstances: in this case, my good friend is asking me for help. 


And so, if you'll indulge me, I invite you to click here to read Myriam's story, and if you're so moved, please consider donating by clicking the ChipIn button you see there.  Donations are taken via PayPal, and seriously: if all you feel you can spare is one dollar, it will be gratefully accepted.  Feel free to spread the word via email, your twitter accounts or your personal blogs, as well.  And you can always check back there (and here) to see progress and how the money is used.


Photo of Myriam & me by the talented Tracey Clark.


Thanks in advance, everyone.  Your consideration means a lot to my friend, and it means so much to me.


SongAny other day by Wyclef Jean, featuring Norah Jones