At fifteen hour drive from the capital with our local partner Fondation Saint Luc, first crammed into an ambulance and a pick up, scorched by the hot vapors of the sun, bumping on uneven roads and trails dug by the rains, then walking in the night vegetation of the Caribbean forest, fording streams with knee-deep water, accompanied by the sound of night birds and by the whispering rhythm of the sea (the sea our constant companion, but often hidden, a breath taking vision, when it appears)…Also at fifteen hour drive from Port Au Prince – nine, when everything runs smoothly, that is to say almost never – you can find out the exact dimension of welcome, beauty, optimism, of exaltation of individuals’ potential, that you can breathe at Andrea Bocelli’s home. In the heart of Haiti, among the poorest and most isolated communities, you can understand better than anywhere else the deepest meaning of the Foundation’s mission, the precise reasons for its being, its strength. A few words, (“take care of people”), that at this latitude enter inside your flesh, forge the soul of those who get in touch with them, helping everybody – and everybody means everybody, and it means also that the first who helps is also the first to enjoy this aid – to become a better person.
ABF is exactly this: an expression of the ethical and existential approach of Andrea transformed in a humanitarian instrument, in an organization that systematically employs, in the world, the values of
welcome, of responsibilization, supporting and taking care of the individual growth path of people and communities, giving each the possibility to tell through their life the best story possible.
While, from Haiti, we are still writing these notes, the ABF mission is still ongoing. The sixty children of the choir “Voices of Haiti” are rehearsing, right now, the songs they will perform in the course of their first “important” performance, tomorrow here in Port au Prince, while the two thousand five hundred children are spending their working day (sometimes taking exams), wearing their uniforms always miraculously perfectly clean despite their daily journey in the forest on uneven roads made of mud and dust. Just now in the in the remote area of Dame Marie, but also in the deep south of Jacmel, at Saint Rapahel Community, an army of local workers, guided by our local partner Fondation Saint Luc, have found a work and therefore a source of income and are the same time building, stone after stone, the place where their children will probably be able to study, find a hot meal grow their own future.
Right now the “Mobile Clinic” is moving, while doctors of Saint Luc Hospital are visiting children but also their parents and grand-parents, also providing, free of charge, medicines and cures, for healing and prevention, even near the school St. Augustin in Abricot where there was no health care at all. In the capital, in the St Damien Hospital, is in full swing the HIV program, and in its red painted rooms is given education, treatment and information through a medical protocol of excellence brought as an example at an international level. Some operators right now, are reaching the poorest outskirts of the capital, to give support to the families of people affected by HIV, to make sure that they get medicines and that they have food so as to be in a condition to face treatments. Always in the St. Damien Hospital, the Virginia Project, in a country with a death rate of women from complications related to childbirth twenty times higher than the one of industrialized countries provides care and cutting edge tools in the maternity ward…Right now (three times, every day), in the slum Citè Soleil, the ABF water truck is distributing drinkable water to the community more at risk of contamination and disease, the one that sometimes does not even have a piece of sheet metal as a shelter, the one more at risk of crime, marginalization and degradation.
These and not only are ABF interventions that are being carried out, each with its own urgent needs, obstacles, potentials, achievements and temporary failures. These and not only are the stages of June trip, and in every stage we have met lots of wonderful people who, day after day, are building, barehanded, the destiny of their land.
Ten days (June 10th to 20th), this is how long this mission has lasted, and of course, it will be followed by others, already by the autumn, with tight frequency, to monitor, optimize, understand the needs of each of ABF projects. Ten times twenty four hours that fly away, like one exciting sunny day, starting every time at 5 in the morning, and ending late at night.
Promising to re examine with more calm and clarity of mind, the state of the art of the many parts in which consists the presence of the Foundation on the island, we would like, anyhow, to convey to the friends of ABF around the world, the testimony of a clear sensation which is emerging from this experience, a perception evident to all those who have lived it, volunteers, operators, or donors…and it is that such an atypical, courageous, example of the concept of international cooperation is winning, and can actually deliver a new and important reading key, at an international level. From an experimental laboratory as it is now, it can already turn into valuable example, expressing a replicable model.
Cultural changes hardly occur through governmental agreements, they are unlikely to take shape with immediacy through large numbers, the winning secret of ABF exciting bet lies in its focusing stubbornly on the individual, on the small community, on projects resting on direct confidence, on a handshake, on a hug, a true encounter between real people.
Some have defined it the philanthropy of growing grass … Even the most luxuriant forest once was only a handful of seeds. Each seed, to become fruit and food and future, must be placed and received in the right soil, with care and attention, (or, rather, with love), so that it can find the strength to develop its miraculous potential.
Every time we leave Haiti after a serial tour de force requiring the vigor of a twenty year old even to those who – as the writer and as the most – is more than twice older, we leave with redoubled, tripled, force and having stocked up also optimism, faith, sincere joy, despite never as in this place, death is the daily companion of life.
The feeling is that every seed in Haiti is working, is multiplying life and hope, either silently, through invisible sprouts, or through lush trees.
The island is changing, the road is still long, but the direction taken is clear and awareness is tangible, Haiti is raising, thanks above all, to its inhabitants, their faith and their extraordinary potential that ABF and Fondation Saint Luc help to develop and flourish.
Giorgio De Martino