Picking up the pieces
Pierre Leroy, founder of the 18-year-old Haitian People’s Support Project, landed in the country after Hurricane Hanna, but he arrived in time for Gustav, Fay and Ike.
“I saw people flying (about) in the street,” Leroy said. “The roof of a house came from nowhere and landed in the yard of the place I was staying in
Money earned from his non-profit’s 10th annual benefit dance this evening, featuring the band Sonando as well as an accompanying art-and-craft sale, will go toward post-storm restoration and repair. The gathering will take place at New World Home Cooking Restaurant, Route 212, between
Leroy hopes for a take of close to $5,000, but more would be better.
“We would love to raise $10,000,” he said.
To assist, Leroy’s organization has temporarily re-focused its work. Volunteers repaired the roof of a public school, restored another roof over a health clinic and delivered food and water to two small orphanages.
A major need that remains, he said, is the rebuilding and repair of a dozen severely damaged homes in Kofa, a community outside the hamlet of Rodhe, the location of an elementary school that has been receiving aid from the Haitian People’s Support Project. The dispossessed people, parents and children, number 80.
“They were all jammed into that school building, which is slightly bigger than this house,” Leroy said referring to the dwelling he shares with his wife, Terry, numerous caged birds and at least one cat. “They had no way of going home because there were no roofs on their houses.” Continued...
Among other assistance, the project will continue to help a 36-year-old woman who was forced by the hurricanes from her home in Citi Soley, the poorest slum in the country. Leroy said she placed her two adolescent children with neighbors after the destruction.
“She started living on the street,” he said.
“She had a bloated belly. She was ill in addition to being homeless.”
Leroy and another man took her to a hospital where staff determined she has a tumor. It is not yet known if the mass is malignant or benign. What Leroy does know is he is determined to reunite the woman with her children.
“She’s alive,” his wife said, “but if it wasn’t for
The Haitian People’s Support Project assists orphanages, a health clinic, fishing, pottery and community cooperative and a reforestation project. The $6,000 raised during the organization’s first fundraiser helped people in a place called Gressier, 20 miles south of
“We were able to dig wells and provide water to the whole village,” Leroy said.
Through the years, the event has raised about $40,000.
This evening, items for sale will range from crafts at $8 to paintings priced up to $600. Admittance to the sale is free, while a donation of $20 is suggested for the dance.
At least four of the artworks, abstracts in purple hues, came back on the airplane with Leroy in early October on his return from his more than month-long stay in
“We met him recently, and we love his work,” Terry Leroy said. “We very quickly sold the ones we had from before.”
Tibo, an artist who participates in the same mountain cooperative as Guerrier, is also represented in the sale with strong works created from river sand.
Pierre Leroy said he has a long history of helping people in trouble. Ironically, he was in trouble himself when, at 20, he fled to the
In 1979, he did venture to the
“He was rounded up at the airport, and they were ready to ship him to (Haitian president Jean-Claude) Duvalier, and somehow he talked his way out of it,” his wife said.
It was in 1990, four years after Duvalier was overthrown, that Leroy began his project, and with the help of his wife and others, he plans to continue it as long as possible. More and more, the focus is on cooperatives that help create a sustainable economy, he said.
“We did quite a bit with pinching pennies,” Leroy said. “It’s not enough. There’s so much to do right now.”
The benefit for the Haitian People’s Support Project begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight with an art-and-craft sale that continues when the dance begins at 9:30 p.m. at New World Home Cooking, Route 212, between
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