Remembering the Earthquake in Haiti

This week, CUNY TV’s “Independent Sources” looks at how Haiti is faring five years after an earthquake devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince; followed by segments on efforts in NYC to preserve the indigenous language of Quechua and the variant language of Kichwa.

What lies ahead for the impoverished and politically troubled Caribbean nation of Haiti? Where does it stand when it comes to homelessness and rebuilding the country? Beginning at 1:09, Haiti expert Jocelyn McCalla assesses the aftermath of the earthquake that hit on Jan. 12, 2010 and the challenges facing the country.

“The earthquake provided an opportunity for transfer of knowledge and technology to the Haitians…

If there’s going to be any progress made in the country the Haitians are to be at the forefront. If you have people doing it for the Haitians, even though some Haitians may be involved, then what you have is this tradition in which the Haitians are always waiting for a hand-out, not a hand-up and that’s part of the problem that we face in Haiti today.”

Next, join a Quechua class taught by Peru-native Elva Ambía out of her Park Slope kitchen. The native speaker of the indigenous language co-founded the New York Quechua Initiative to raise awareness of the centuries-old endangered language native to the Andes Mountain region of South America. Estimates put the number of speakers worldwide at 8-10 million with about 8,000 to 10,000 in NYC. In describing the language, Ambía said:

“…it’s beautiful, it’s sweet, it’s loving, it’s a wonderful language and it’s made from the sounds of nature.”

The New York Quechua Initiative resulted from an incident that made Ambía say, “That made me angry. And I said no way. We had to do something about it.” Find out what that was in this segment, which starts at 14:08. (For more on Quechua, also read our story from the New York Quechua Initiative.)

At 21:30, it’s over to another indigenous language in danger of disappearing – Kichwa, a variant of Quechua. “Independent Sources” speaks to Charlie Uruchima, a master’s student at NYU’s Quechua program, who has co-founded “Kichwa Hatari,” a radio show based in the Bronx all about the language.

(Photo via The Haitian Times)

(Photo via The Haitian Times)

Meanwhile, The Haitian Times covers a commemoration of the anniversary of the earthquake. On Jan. 12, more than 80 Haitian-American organizations, businesses and officials from the metro area gathered for the largest memorial in the Northeast. The all-day tribute, “We Remember Haiti,” was held at 1199SEIU’s New York headquarters and included a candlelight vigil, as well as workshops, book signings and performances.

“Haiti, a jewel of the Caribbean, suffered an unimaginable tragedy in 2010,” Assemblywoman-elect Rodneyse Bichotte, said. “Much like many of our communities in New York since Hurricane Sandy, Haiti continues to mend its wounds, and struggles to help those victims who lost everything. The 5th annual memorial is a beautiful and necessary event to keep both the victims of the earthquake and the efforts by the larger Haitian-American community at the forefront of our consciousness.”

Find out what the organizer of We Remember Haiti wanted Haitian Americans to do for Haiti and view a photo gallery of the memorial at The Haitian Times.

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