Kahlaloo, the Caribbean stew, is like many dishes: There are nearly as many interpretations as there are ingredients to throw into a pot.
This Saturday, Aug. 7, the Kahlaloo Festival will combine a spectrum of flavors, attractions and cultures – a rich mixture with a very contemporary approach.
The stir of the festival is its support for Haitians who are still suffering from the lingering effects of the Jan. 12 earthquake.
“It is important for South Floridians to understand that our community will be affected by the earthquake’s aftermath more than any other in the country because of the number of Haitians here,” said Harvey Lockhart, chairman of the festival and the minister in care at the Church of the Open Door in Liberty City.
Under the auspices of Living Hope Ministries, the Church of the Open Door is embarking on a March Across Florida Campaign to provide shelter, cooking stoves and food for people in Haiti.
The church is seeking donations for its effort: $200 will comfortably shelter two adults or four children, $80 will provide a family with a two-burner stove, $20 will feed a child for a month, church organizers say.
July 12 marked six months after the tragedy that devastated the island nation in the area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city. A positive change in response to the crisis, said Lockhart, is the fellowship between local ministries, which has helped bridge the gap between South Florida’s African-American and Haitian communities.
“We envision all 17 Caribbean nations represented in South Florida will come together to support our efforts,” he said.
The festival, which will take place at Little Haiti Soccer Park, will open with food vendors and organizations targeting Haiti, followed by a soccer match between
local teams Fadkidj and Haiti International.
The second half will give gospel music fans a chance to sing along with GBABY, DANGEL, El Shama, UGB, singers from the Full Gospel Church Worship, and the Church of the Open Door Gospel Choir.
Proceeds will be channeled to the millions of displaced Haitians. A thousand waterproof tents and cooking stoves will be donated.
Lockhart said he envisions the festival evolving into an annual, 3-day event that will offer continuous support during the decade that the rebuilding of Haiti is expected to take.
The revival might actually take longer than that, however, as poor strategy has halted Haiti’s redevelopment: Progress is slow, crime is resurgent and relief efforts seem to be off track.
“Signs of reconstruction are minimal,” said Jean Baptiste Wilkens, a member of the festival committee.
One of the many volunteers assisting in a partnership between Baptist Hospital and the Redeemer Presbyterian Church, where cancer patients are brought from his native Haiti to South Florida for treatment, Wilkens said, “Besides the physical toll, the quake has created complex human issues that will need to be addressed.”
He continued: “Once the sick are healed, Haiti will have a new generation of handicapped and orphans. And they will need to be integrated into society.”
Roland Jerome, who grew up playing soccer on the streets of Port-au-Prince, said the conditions in Haiti’s capital are so bad that millions are still homeless or living in unsafe housing, sometimes under half-torn, heavy concrete ceilings.
“Not enough is being done. We need the international community to be more aggressive in their assistance,” said the head coach of Haiti International.
“Haitians are good people and they want to live. But they need help.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Kahlaloo Festival.
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 7 from 2-8 p.m.
WHERE: Little Haiti Soccer Park; 6301 NE 2nd Ave., Miami.
COST: $10 adults, $5 children ages 5-11, free for children 4 and under.
For more information, please contact Harvey Lockhart at 954-642-8016 or visit www.livinghopehaiti.com, where donations may also be made. The festival website is kahlaloofestivalmiami.com.