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500 Club director has a ‘hurting but hopeful heart for Haiti’

Jeanette Arsenault with the children in the small village of St. Louis du Sud.

Prince Edward County recording artist Jeanette Arsenault wrote a song called The Sound of Haiti after the devastating earthquake, but a four-day visit to its capital Port-au-Prince and points southwest this month “revealed the sounds, the sights and the smells of Haiti.”

“The sounds,” she said, “included non-stop horns honking, roosters crowing, people dickering prices, engines revving, dogs barking, everyone speaking Creole and loud music blasting out of huge speakers on the streets of the capital city.
“The sights included block after city block of rubble, crumpled remnants of buildings, garbage and litter, lean-to’s, tent cities, motorbikes everywhere, overcrowded trucks and buses, people walking, people sitting, women with baskets on their heads, overwhelming clouds of dust, abandoned, rusted-out vehicles, roads in ruin, emaciated dogs, chickens, roosters and pigs, unbelievable traffic jams, – all indicative of a people and their government in complete disarray.
“The smells included diesel and oil fumes, burning garbage, rotting food, corn, chicken, rice, fish and other foods being cooked in the markets all along the roads.”.

Even before the devastating earthquake of January 2010, Arsenault was involved with Prince Edward County residents helping to raise funds for orphaned children in Haiti. She is an honorary director of “The 500 Club” which was established to help feed 35 children at an orphanage in Gonaives, Haiti. The object is to find 500 people who will each pay $1/week that will feed the children for one year. The club currently has more than 450 supporters.

“With flooding and the cholera epidemic in Gonaives, some of the children have been recently re-located to their home village. So I visited the homes of the families where they reside now, as well as the school that they attend, which is located in St. Georges sector of a small village called St. Louis du Sud”, she explains.

typical market in Haiti

A typical market in Haiti. Jeanette Arsenault photo

“Their village is set in a coconut and mango grove where winding, unordered paths lead up to homes which are pretty much one-room cement buildings with up to nine people living there.”

Arsenault recalls images of garbage strewn everywhere; laundry set out on the bushes to dry and unkempt houses. However, she said everyone, including the children, have good habits of personal cleanliness.

Haiti children

The children of Haiti captured my heart. Jeanette Arsenault photo

“Personal hygiene and good grooming are definitely the norm from what I saw. Their environment may be cluttered with an unsightly mess but they are all well-dressed and clean. And their smiles. I think that’s what captivates you the most. They smile from the heart. You can’t help but fall in love with the people of Haiti.”

Jeanette chronicled her journey in her blog. Click here to read her blog and see more photographs: http://jeanettearsenault.ca/2011/03/a-hurting-but-hopeful-heart-for-haiti/

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  1. Kim Parker says:

    What needs to be said…Wonderful vocal and pictoral compilation, that raises our hearts as they raise their hands to the Almighty!The resiliance of humanity…nothin’ short of the Divine. Thank you Jeanette. xo

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