The unveiling of a giant mural painted on the side of a Little Haiti building and a one-man tri-county bike trip starting in Palm Beach County will be among events planned to commemorate the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians and destroyed a country.
Lynn University in Boca Raton will also observe the occasion in tribute to the victims who included four students and two faculty members, part of a 16-member contingent volunteering in Haitian orphanages when the earthquake struck.
The Little Haiti Optimist Club will unveil the 5,000-square-foot mural as part of a Haiti Earthquake Remembrance program that will include a Candlelight Reflection Moment to be observed between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the building at 7901 NE Second Ave. in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. Ron Volk, the owner of the property, donated the needed space.
The artwork depicts Haiti’s past, present and future and was designed and produced in partnership with the MLK Community Mural Project, a collaboration of artists and students from around the world.
“This is the most important project I’ve worked on because hundreds of thousands lost their lives and the country where I was born was destroyed,” said Serge Toussaint, 48, the lead artist on the project, who was born in Carrefour, Haiti.
“As an artist, I hope this mural helps all of South Florida reflect on Haiti’s history, present and a better future to come once the country is rebuilt,” he said.
Other artists include Kyle Holbrook, Cairns “Nice” Athouris, Addonnis Parker, Darrin Watson, Bayunga Kialeuka, Chris “Punch” Purdy, Kevin “Smurf” Morris and Veronica Estrada.
“The earthquake was a day that many will not forget. With South Florida having the largest concentration of Haitians and Haitian Americans, our goal and commitment is to ensure that Haiti is not forgotten,” said Adam Grossman, senior vice president of public affairs for the Miami Dolphins, who provided all of the supplies for the project. Other sponsors are MLK Restaurant, Gateway Airport Concessions, Show Technology, Charles Coin Laundry, I Print & Design Miami, WEDR-FM 99 JAMZ and the city of Miami.
For more information or to become a sponsor, call 305-390-0234 or visit www.littlehaitioptimist.org.
The Palm Beach County observances will include a Tri-County Bike Roundup sponsored by Color Of Hope Inc., a grass-roots community-based organization that seeks to assist the recovery of the local community and the reconstruction of Haiti through the Haitian Diaspora Million Dollar Challenge.
Salusa Basquin, teacher, radio host, poet, DJ and long-time member of the Haitian community in South Florida, will “ride for manpower to help rebuild Haiti,” according to an event statement.
His biking tour will begin at 5:30a.m. Wednesday in Lake Park with a prayer and address from Mayor Desca DuBois and then depart for Little Haiti in Miami, with stops at the Riviera Beach City Hall to meet supporters and Mayor Thomas Masters; the office of Haitian-American state Rep. Mack Bernard, D-District 84, for a symbolic reading of 112 names of victims of the earthquake; the Palm Beach County Commission Office; and the West Palm City Hall to meet with Mayor Lois Frankel.
He will also stop at the Lake Worth City Hall, where city officials, members and leaders of the community and 112 spiritual leaders will gather for a special prayer for Haiti; and the Delray Beach City Hall to meet and hear the wishes of a student spokesperson on behalf of Haiti.
Basquin will then continue to Broward County along the Dixie Highway to the Little Haiti Park, where he will be met by 112 community leaders, including activist Marlene Bastien and Richard Champagne, president of the Haitian Lawyers Association.
“Our South Florida community was left bewildered after the devastation of Jan. 12 but now we mobilize to build back better,” Bernard said. “I believe there is a role for everyone who wishes to contribute to a better Haiti.”
Other Palm Beach events will include A Day Of Remembrance from 6 to 9 p.m. organized by Voice of the Haitian-American in the Disapora at the Colony Shoppe, 7400 N. Federal Hwy, Boca Raton.
The event’s theme is “Haiti Pap Tonbe” (We Shall Overcome) and it will include performances by local artists and writers and addresses by community leaders.
Lynn University will also host a Day of Remembrance to honor the earthquake victims, including students and faculty. In collaboration with the United Way, service projects will take place at different locations in Palm Beach County.
The university lost four students and two faculty members in the earthquake; eight students survived. The 12 students and two faculty were on a Journey of Hope, working with children in orphanages, when the earthquake struck.
The university is especially interested in having students and family members who came to Palm Beach from Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake attend a Knights Unite, Day of Caring event which will take place from 11a.m. to 1p.m. at the Boca Raton campus, 3601 North Military Trail.
For more information on the Palm Beach County events, e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call Phil Riordan at 561-237-740 or Donna J. Pulda at 561-375-6621.