Sept. 17, 2008
Pictured, from left, are Ms. Lature, Pastor Mardy, Ald. Jean-Baptiste, Mr. Balthazar and Mr. Gaspard.
Seeing his native homeland struck four times by storms already this season, Second Ward Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, center, brought together Haitian organizations in the Chicago area to solicit money for relief for the people of Haiti. "We need to accentuate the urgency of the moment. We are calling upon the community to find a way to assist us in meeting this crisis."
Ald. Jean Baptiste's newly formed organization, the Haitian Crisis Relief Fund, has an account at Charter One Bank in Evanston to receive donations.
At a press conference at the New Hope Church on Howard Street, Pastor Hector Mardy welcomed several speakers to describe what they had heard from family and friends about conditions in Haiti since hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike and a tropical storm hit the island - just about midway into the hurricane season.
Aline Lature of Haitians to Fortify Haiti said, "In southeast Haiti, where I'm from, the people are completely cut off.
Six bridges have collapsed, and those are not bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge and the San Francisco bridge. People
are dying in the waters. Dr. Paul Farmer of Doctors Without Borders said he has never seen anything like this."
Gary Gaspard of Evanston, who hosts a local Haitian radio show, said, "My heart goes out to the people in Texas [where Hurricane Ike was due to land that day].... If this is going on in Texas, you can imagine what is going on in Haiti."
Jean Balthazar, also of Evanston, said, "This year again we are being victimized by disaster. Keep us in your prayers."
Ald. Jean-Baptiste and Ms. Lature said some of the funds collected would go toward water-sanitizing kits, so people would have safe water to drink. Ald. Jean-Baptiste said that, even though the outlying areas have been devastated, there are viable businesses in the urban area that can assemble the kits. He also said he and others are confident that donations would reach the proper organizations and people in Haiti.
Donations may be made by sending checks payable to the Haitian Crisis Relief Fund, c/o Alderman Lionel Jean-
Baptiste,1900 Asbury Ave., Evanston 60201.