On Saturday February 25th, at Michelangelo’s Banquet Centre, 375 humanitarians came together in support of maternal and child health at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS). This 9th annual “Haiti Happening”, sponsored by the Canadian Friends of HAS, included an authentic Haitian meal; a silent auction; a market place; prizes; a presentation about the current situation at the hospital; and a new video. So far, the event has raised over $30,000 and donations are still coming in.
One highlight of the evening was an inspirational Power Point presentation by guest of honor, Dr. Ian Rawson. As the son of HAS co-founder, Gwen Mellon, and in his present capacity as Managing Director of the hospital, Dr. Rawson brought a lot of credibility to his report. Some of the topics that Dr. Rawson focused on were the HAS readiness plan for the next spike in cholera cases; leadership in building 100 latrines a month; the reforestation initiative (600,000 trees planted to date with the goal of 1,000,000 planted by 2014); the new graduating class of 220 traditional birthing attendants who facilitate three checkups for pregnant women; encouragement to physiotherapists to complement the largest prosthetic and rehabilitation center in the Caribbean located on the HAS campus; and the need for an anesthesiologist and supporting nurses.
Another highlight was a new video created by James and Andrea Harvey. The fast-paced video, described by CFHAS Board member, Mick Stewart, as a counterpoint to Dr. Rawson’s presentation, depicted life at the hospital from the early days to the present. Mr. Stewart, on behalf of everyone in CFHAS, paid respects to Rhoda Berquist and Peter Johnson, Canadian Friends of HAS members who passed away this year. The video was dedicated to these two fine people. The attentiveness of the entire audience throughout Dr. Rawson’s talk and the showing of the video was indicative of the high level of interest in the compelling information being presented.
The planning committee, headed by Hilda Reinauer-Stark, was very pleased with the results of their efforts. The silent auction, featuring 70 creative works by Haitians and 100 similarly creative works by Hamilton area artisans, was abuzz with interest in the “one of a kind” items. The market place, with authentic Haitian products like vanilla and coffee, also drew a lot of interest. Hameed Shaqq, the pan drummer, did an excellent job of entertaining during the cocktail hour. David Shuttleworth, in his 6th year as Master of Ceremonies, was in top form. Dana Frewin and her staff at Michelangelo’s put on a wonderful meal which included the delectable “Smuggler’s Cake”. The Reverend David Anderson focused everyone’s attention as he referenced “all God’s children” in the grace. CFHAS Chair, Brad Berquist, offered thanks to all who contributed to the event and provided an update on CFHAS contributions to the hospital ($760,000 to date) while inviting further donations to the hospital.
Special thanks were offered to Peller Estates (who donated the wine on the tables), Via Rail and the Stratford Shakespearean Festival (who donated big prizes), a host of local businesses (who also donated prizes), and Tony from Anton Video Productions.
The 10th annual “Haiti Happening” will be held on Saturday February 23rd, 2013. The hope is that the Canadian Friends of HAS will close in on the $1,000,000 mark for donations to the hospital. All those with a “heart for Haiti” can help to realize that goal. Donations are always welcome through the CFHAS website (www.canadianhashaiti.ca) or by mail to P.O. Box 827, Hamilton ON L8N3M8. Please make checks out to “Canadian Friends of HAS”.