Ice cream adds sweet taste for farmers in Haiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs from one of the grittiest cities in the United States have joined forces with peasant farmers in Haiti to help transform the country’s bitter poverty into delicious and life-sustaining ice cream.

A white former human sexuality professor from Alabama and a black Baltimore gourmet ice cream maker are being recognized for their efforts to help Haitian farmers find a market for their high-value vanilla beans and cacao in a product they like to call “ice cream with a purpose.”

The unusual pair teamed up two years ago to market Haitian vanilla-flavored ice cream to upscale Baltimore area restaurants.

The Vanilla Project, which provides income for some 650 farmers in rural Haiti, on February 1 earned its creators the Citizen Diplomat Award from Global Ties U.S., a non-profit partner of the U.S. State Department.

The vanilla venture owes its origins to a chance encounter 14 years ago when Alabama mother and daughter Anne and Stephanie Reynolds befriended a Haitian street artist.

They decided on a lark to join the artist, Gracia Thelisma, on a bus trip to the north of Haiti to visit the mother he had not seen in years.

The mother-daughter duo was struck by Haiti’s beauty and its people – as well as its poverty.

After they returned to Alabama they collected clothes to send to Haiti and raised money to start a school in Thelisma’s home town of Plaisance.

That soon evolved into seeking a long-term solution to employ the children who graduated from the school.

“Haiti once exported some of the finest vanilla products to Paris. They can do it again,” said Anne Reynolds, 57, a former professor at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a poverty rate of 77 percent and an average per capita income of $760, according to the World Bank.

After testing the plants in Haiti, and planting 70,000 vanilla vines, the project went into full businessmode last year with the creation of the De La Sol Haiti company in Plaisance, a rural farmingcommunity of 65,000.

Stephanie Reynolds, 27, with a graduate degree in Latin American studies, runs the company, which has 8 employees, 5 women and 3 men from Plaisance.

While waiting for the vines to mature, De la Sol Haiti is turning cocoa bought from local producers into chocolate.

The company is training farmers in new techniques to grow the vanilla vines on cacao trees and Thelisma hopes vanilla exports could start next year. It takes up to five years for the vanilla plants, which are related to the orchid family, to reach maturity.

“My dream is for De la Sol to become a leading force for Plaisance development,” said Thelisma. “In the region, people do not have jobs. With the vanilla businessDe la Sol could be able to expand and benefit a larger part of the population,” he added.

Reynolds was looking for culinary partners when she got a call out of the blue from Baltimore ice cream maker Taharka Brothers.

Owned and operated by young, college-aged African-Americans from tough neighborhoods, Taharka, founded in 2010, was introduced to Haiti in 2012 through Global Ties U.S., which hosts international visitors sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Taharka’s marketingmanager, Darius Wilmore, a former graphic artist with Def Jam Recordings, the hip hop label, was immediately struck with the idea of helping Haitian producers.

Wilmore Googled “vanilla in Haiti,” and found Reynolds.

She told him her vanilla beans were still two years away from maturity. In passing, Reynolds mentioned growing vanilla bean vines on cacao (chocolate) trees.

“What are you doing with the chocolate?” asked Wilmore.

While vanilla is the No. 1 flavor in the world, chocolate comes in a solid second.

Today, Taharka orders between 20 to 50 pounds of chocolate bi-monthly from De La Sol Haiti for its ice cream, which it delivers to 50 of Baltimore’s fanciest restaurants  grocery stores and ice cream shops. Wilmore hopes to see a profit next year, and start taking delivery of some Haitian vanilla beans.

Taharka Brothers joined Del La Sol Haiti in Washington, DC, this month to receive the Citizen Diplomat Award, adding their names to a list of luminaries such as U.S. Senator William Fulbright and celebrated poet-activist Maya Angelou.

Both Reynolds and Wilmore share a belief that the best way to help those less fortunate is through collaboration, and that giving creates dependency.

While Wilmore disapproves of handouts, he believes he owes the people of Haiti a debt of gratitude, because their bloody, decade-long revolution in the late 18th century began the end of slavery in the western world.

“It is race, class and history wrapped into this. Here we are, young black men, working with white women from Alabama, buying chocolate from poor Haitians. We are shining the light on social injustice through ice cream,” Wilmore said in his award acceptance speech.

He added: “Ice cream tastes better than poverty.”

 

In Haiti, music is in the air as pre-Carnival celebrations, jazz fest start the party

Carenival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Carnival may be more than a month away, but that’s not stopping Haitians from launching the party early. A week after marking the fourth anniversary of Haiti’s tragic Jan.12, 2010, earthquake during which their singer-turned-president urged them to celebrate life, Haitians kicked off pre-carnival celebrations Sunday.

Jumping and dancing into the streets, they transformed a downtown public square that once housed tens of thousands of quake victims under tents, into a musical stage. Oversized floats, DJs and enthusiastic Rara bands took over the Champ de Mars in front of the razed presidential palace as part of the weekly carnival warm-ups that will take place between now and carnival weekend, March 2-4, in the city of Gonaives.

Like in the last two years, Haiti’s official carnival celebration will rotate this year outside of the capital. Carnival drums, however, were not the only rhythms playing Sunday in this quake-recovering capital. Uptown in Petionville, hundreds of jazz fanatics enjoyed the second day of the Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival in the capital featuring Daniel Schenker Quartet of Switzerland, guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke from Benin and Haiti’s Réginald Policard. The musicians performed at the NH El Rancho hotel, one of several newly rebuilt and opened post-quake hotels in Haiti.

“In North America, there is just very sad press about Haiti, about poverty and despair, but no one is touching on the spirit of the people,” Canadian jazz artist Julie Michels said at a Sunday brunch hosted by Canada’s Embassy to welcome the jazz festival.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/20/3882013/in-haiti-music-is-in-the-air-as.html#storylink=cpy

 

9 in Haiti Accused in Journalist Case

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A judge on Friday concluded the investigation into one of Haiti’s most notorious political assassinations, accusing nine people, including close associates of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide of having had a hand in the killing of the radio journalist Jean Dominique.

Mirlande Libérus, a former senator from Mr. Aristide’s political party, Lavalas, was indicted as the organizer of the murder in April 2000 of Mr. Dominique, owner of Radio Haiti Inter, and a security guard, according to a summary of the judge’s report made public by an Appeals Court panel on Friday.

Gunmen shot the two victims as Mr. Dominique was arriving by car at the radio station’s office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, according to the report.

Evidence indicated that Mr. Libérus had been ordered by Mr. Aristide to silence Mr. Dominique, a popular journalist and human rights activist, the report said, citing witnesses who had testified before Judge Yvikel Dabrésil. The judge did not indict Mr. Aristide as part of the conspiracy, apparently concluding that evidence was insufficient.

Mr. Dominique’s widow, Michèle Montas, welcomed news of the report, saying it was a “positive step.”

Sorrow over Haiti quake still deep, 4 years later

 

 

Four years ago, Marguerite Berthold was standing in her yard in Port-au-Prince when the earth began to shake. She ran into her house and went up to her porch. Her house collapsed but the porch remained standing and she survived.

 

She spent the next two days searching for her son and fervently praying. Eventually she found him alive but with two broken legs.

 

On Sunday, Berthold and her son, Wongaton Villace, now 15, attended a special church service in Mattapan focused on remembering those who died and offering thanks for those who survived.

 

Four years after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, left roughly 230,000 dead, hundreds of thousands more injured, and more than a million homeless, about 50 people — many of whom were in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010 — gathered at First Christian Church Source of Grace on Blue Hill Avenue on Sunday morning.

 

Conducted in Haitian Creole, French, and English and infused with ecstatic singing, the service was joyful, but also intertwined with grief.

 

“A lot of our family fell,” said the Rev. Jean Jeune as he began the 2½-hour service.

 

“We have a lot of suffering in our soul, in our spirit, in our heart,” he said in remarks that were translated into English for a reporter who attended.

 

The congregation, packed into two rooms on the second floor of an office building, later joined their voices in a song proclaiming their faithfulness.

 

Backed by keyboard, an electric bass guitar, drums, and an accordion, many of the congregants closed their eyes and raised their hands above their head. Some cried.

 

“Four years ago, if it wasn’t for God, a lot of us would not be here,” Jeune said before another song began. He encouraged celebration of the blessings that had been bestowed but repeatedly recognized the struggle many of his congregants had endured since 2010.

 

“Four years of suffering” from the loss and trauma and memories of the devastating tragedy, he said. Read more here:

 

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/01/13/haiti-quake-resonates/SIR3SE2eziXzZ5B2Cll2EL/story.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Discontented

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN HAITI the year is ending with squalls of street protest. Shows of public anger have been going on for weeks in Port-au-Prince, the capital, and other major cities. The protests are amorphous. Gatherings of differing sizes and intensities have been called by various entities, ranging from opposition parties to the trade unions.

If there is a thread running through them, it is a general discontent with President Michel Martelly’s 27-month-old administration. The country is still traumatised by 2010’s devastating earthquake and years of what Mr Martelly calls “bad governance”. (He means the period before he came into office; his critics say the maladministration continues.) This despite a slew of populist programmes to build things like stadiums and the attempts of Mr Martelly, a former entertainer, to win people over: he has even broadcast his own commentary of a big football match from Miami.

Even his supporters admit Mr Martelly himself is partly to blame for the trouble. He has been dilatory in pushing through a new electoral law, which has meant a two-year delay to elections for the Senate and in local municipalities. That gave the opposition a potent reason to mobilise protesters. One of the biggest and most violent demonstrations so far—on November 18th, the 210th anniversary of the battle that secured Haiti’s independence from France—focused on the overdue elections. That protest left one person dead as a few thousand Martelly supporters clashed with thousands of opposition marchers.

Under pressure—from the unquiet streets at home and from foreign diplomats—Mr Martelly has belatedly pushed through a new election law, which was published last week in Haiti’s official gazette. That earned him congratulations from the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Haiti, Sandra Honore, and from seven ambassadors of the international donors’ “core group” (America, France, Brazil, Spain, Canada, the European Union and the Organisation of American States). Read more:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/12/protests-haiti

Haiti and Dominican Republic resume talks on controversial Constitutional Court ruling

 

 

 

 

 

CARACAS, Venezuela (CMC) — Haiti and the Dominican Republic have agreed to establish a joint commission to discuss the migration problem caused by a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic that has the effect of rendering stateless, thousands of people of Haitian descent residing in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country. Haitian President Michel Martelly and his Dominican counterpart Danilo Medina met on Tuesday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and of PetorCaribe The meeting was chaired by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

“I announce the creation of a high-level committee with representatives of both sides to address various issues on the bilateral agenda,” Maduro said, adding that the joint commission would comprise five representatives each from the two countries. He said Venezuela, the United Nations, the European Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have been invited as observers. Maduro said the proposed commission would address issues regarding trade, migration, environment, security and the border. The purpose of such an initiative is to find a just, proper and balanced solution through which the interests and rights of all parties are protected.

Last month, CARICOM said it would defer consideration of the application by the Dominican Republic to join the regional integration grouping following the Constitutional Court ruling. Leaders of the three-member CARICOM Bureau, comprising host country Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Haiti, said the 15-member regional grouping would also seek to raise the court ruling with several bodies including the Association of Caribbean States, the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) as well as maintaining “our interest and active participation at the Organization of American States (OAS).

On September 23, the Constitutional Court in Santo Domingo has ruled in favour of stripping citizenship from children of Haitian migrants. Read more:

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Haiti-and-Dominican-Republic-resume-talks-on-controversial-Constitutional-Court-ruling

 

HOT ART EVENT

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, BUT DON’T MISS THIS HOT ART EVENT…BON BAGAY!!

INCLUDING mixed media presentation, created by Laia Cabrera & Isabelle Duverger.

An evening of Haitian artwork, chill music, hot Haitian Rhum drinks, film and guest speakers in support of aid organizations in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the fight for civil rights and citizenship for hundreds of thousands of Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants. Take home original artwork for the holidays and make a difference in the life of a Haitian.

100% of all art sales go to charity.

TICKETS:

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/8872733585

 

 

BON BAGAY OFFICIAL EVENT TEE…”MANY HANDS”

COLORS: (WHITE, TAN, BLUE)

SIZES: (S, M, L, XL)

PRICE $20

The Cherie Haiti Clothing Company was founded in 2010, and has been providing quality garments to the public ever since. Located in Miami, New York and Montreal, Cherie Haiti employs over 15 artists, and designers who were inspired by Haiti and it’s people, who picked themselves up after L’event and persevered; typically through Haiti’s culture. Collectively, we unite a broad style of work from; our designers, photographers, illustrators, textile and media artists to create clothing which  delivers a positive visual message that endures.

 

CREATED BY THE CHERIE HAITI CLOTHING COMPANY FOR BON BAGAY.

EVENT TEE

 

CONTINUE THE EVENING’S CELEBRATION OF ART & CULTURE @ THE CECIL’S IN HARLEM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://thececilharlem.com/

 

What are US Border Patrol Agents Doing in the Dominican Republic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It isn’t exactly the towering 20-foot wall that runs like a scar through significant parts of the US-Mexican borderlands. Imagine instead the sort of metal police barricades you see at protests. These are unevenly lined up like so many crooked teeth on the Dominican Republic’s side of the river that acts as its border with Haiti. Like dazed versions of US Border Patrol agents, the armed Dominican border guards sit at their assigned posts, staring at the opposite shore. There, on Haitian territory, children splash in the water and women wash clothes on rocks.

 

One of those CESFRONT (Specialized Border Security Corps) guards, carrying an assault rifle, is walking six young Haitian men back to the main base in Dajabon, which is painted desert camouflage as if it were in a Middle Eastern war zone.

 

If the scene looks like a five-and-dime version of what happens on the US southern border, that’s because it is. The enforcement model the Dominican Republic uses to police its boundary with Haiti is an import from the United States.

 

CESFRONT itself is, in fact, an outgrowth of a US effort to promote “strong borders” abroad as part of its Global War on Terror. So US Consul-General Michael Schimmel told a group from the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic in the Dominican Republic back in 2008, according to an internal report written by the law students along with the Dominican immigrant solidarity organization Solidaridad Fronteriza. The US military, he added, was training the Dominican border patrol in “professionalism.”

 

Schimmel was explaining an overlooked manifestation of US imperial policy in the post-9/11 era. Militarized borders are becoming ever more common throughout the world, especially in areas of US influence.

 

CESFRONT’s Dajabon commander is Colonel Juan de Jesus Cruz, a stout, Napoleonic figure with a booming voice. Watching the colonel interact with those detained Haitian teenagers was my first brush with how Washington’s “strong borders” abroad policy plays out on the ground. The CESFRONT base in Dajabon is located near the Massacre River that divides the two countries. Its name is a grim reminder of a time in 1937 when Dominican forces slaughtered an estimated 20,000 Haitians in what has been called the “twentieth century’s least-remembered act of genocide.” That act ensured the imposition of a 227-mile boundary between the two countries that share the same island.

 

As rain falls and the sky growls, Cruz points to the drenched young Haitians and says a single word, “ilegales,” his index finger hovering in the air. The word “illegals” doesn’t settle well with one of the teenagers, who glares at the colonel and replies defiantly, “We have come because of hunger.”

 

His claim is corroborated by every report about conditions in Haiti, but the colonel responds, “You have resources there,” with the spirit of a man who relishes a debate.

 

The teenager, who will undoubtedly soon be expelled from the Dominican Republic like so many other Haitians (including, these days, people of Haitian descent born in the country), gives the colonel a withering look. He’s clearly boiling inside. “There’s hunger in Haiti. There’s poverty in Haiti. There is no way the colonel could not see that,” he tells Cruz. “You are right on the border.”

 

This tense, uneasy, and commonplace interaction is one of countless numbers of similar moments spanning continents from Latin America and Africa to the Middle East and Asia.

 

Read more :

http://www.thenation.com/article/177253/wait-what-are-us-border-patrol-agents-doing-dominican-republic

 

Bon Bagay: A Night of Art and Cocktails!

 

Make a tax deductible donation to charity at this year’s event!!

We accept checks made out to our fiscal sponsor, City Lore. WWW.CITYLORE.ORG or you can make a charitable donation with a debit or credit card. Please request one of our BON BAGAY event volunteers to assist you with your donation. Donations are 100% tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

 

Join us for a fun filled evening.

Caribbean and Haitian inspired cuisine provided by Kreyol Flavor.

Complimentary open bar courtesy of our sponsors:

BeviWines. Rhum Barbancourt. Prestige Beer.

Rhum Barbancourt

http://theblessedproject.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/barbancourt8.jpg

In 1862, Dupré Barbancourt, a native of the Charente region in France, put the finishing touches to a recipe for rum that still bears his name today.Using a double distillation method usually reserved for the very finest cognacs, he discovered a rum of incomparable quality that has always received the highest international distinctions.

Yummy dessert cupcakes provided by Sugar Spell Bakeshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There’s a hint of magic in every bite”

Join us for a night of art and culture.

 

Eventbrite - BON BAGAY: ART AUCTION FOR HAITI

“It is sad, and a shame,” former Dominican President Mejía

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (sentinel.ht) – “It is sad and a shame” former Dominican President Hipólito Mejía said of the Constitutional Tribunal’s (TC) judgment 0168-13. Mejía went on to say that the decision had placed his country in a very difficult situation in the world.

 

In an interview with journalist Ruth de los Santos, on the sidelines prior to an event with members of the Dominican Revolutionary party, Mejia, referred to the issued judgment of the Constitutional Court, and recalled that on Tuesday the Dominican Republic would be receiving six of seven members of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). The international situation that the country is going through, after that judgment, “is sad and a shame,” Mejía said.

 

“This visit,” referring to that of the IACHR, Mejia said, “it means that the situation is very serious.”

 

On another note, the ex-president said that as the movement called “TOYJARTO” he is also “fed up” of such corruption, but admitted that he could not, in their government, “end corruption”.

 

He expressed concern for all the things that are happening in Dominican Republic, which said, “my country is going backward instead of forward,” recalling that the former president Leonel Fernandez made an overdraft of 400 billion pesos, which “has the country in a hole.”

 

Former President Hipolito Mejia, also met with Dominican-born candidates aspiring for elective positions in the next state and municipal elections in the United States and announced his full support to them. I made a fervent appeal to Dominicans U.S. citizens to vote in U.S. elections, while suggesting to those residents in this nation, who have not taken advantage of the “dual citizenship” conquest left by José Francisco Peña Gómez, they do, so they have the right to vote for candidates Dominicans.