African community mobilizes for Haiti

01/15/10 Arielle Stevenson
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This morning African community leaders spoke at the Uhuru house in St. Petersburg about how to mobilize aide for Haiti locally. Aisha Fields, Director for the all African peoples development and empowerment project spoke this morning about the need for the African community in Tampa to marshal humanitarian efforts for Haiti.

The conference was called to really call on the African community here in the Tampa Bay area to come together, to recognize our sameness with the Africans who live here in Haiti. And to take up our responsibility to come to the aide of our people there that are really suffering tremendously right now.

What do you see as some ways that the African community in Tampa can help the people in Haiti?

One of the things we are calling on the people to do is to make contributions of course of supplies that are really needed right now. Dry goods, water, medical supplies, basic first aid equipment, personal hygiene items. We are opening up the Uhuru house from 9:30 am to 1 pm every day in St. Petersburg 1245 18th Avenue South to accept those goods. We are calling on people to really contribute to that.

Reverend Gerly Germain of the Bethanie Seventh-day Adventist Haitian Church of Tampa highlighted the importance of providing Haitians with long-term infrastructure support.

Right now I think there is a compassionate response. Respect means teaching people to fish, rather than giving them a fish. Compassion is giving them a fish. The respect for them as human beings who have the capacity to do for themselves comes through our efforts in the long haul. Right now compassion is good. But respect means helping them to get a leg up and do those things for themselves that’s going to make that country a nation to be reckoned with, even though its small, throughout the globe.

Chimurenga Waller, international president of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru movement, says that helping Haiti means garnering long-term support.

I spoke earlier and said that this is probably something that’s going to take several years to overcome. The infrastructure was already in poor condition before the earthquake, that’s why we are making a long-term commitment. In two weeks, the media won’t be talking about Haiti. So we have to be looking in the long term, and say as African people what are we able to do to correct the situation in Haiti, not just today or tomorrow but be looking down the road.

Donations for Haiti are being accepted at the Uhuru house in St. Petersburg daily from 9:30 am-1 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information visit inpdum

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