Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wellfleet Resident Reports Back from Haiti

January, 2010 will be remembered as the month one of the worst earthquakes in human memory devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Wellfleet’s Ellen LeBow has longtime artistic ties to an island off the coast called Lagonav. Read about the artists of Matenwa, women who create and market silk scarves as a means of making a living in a place so poor it is hard to imagine. The home page of the Art Matenwa Web site offers a recent video about Lagonav by Ivan Watson of CNN. Here’s a letter Ellen sent to the people of Wellfleet this week:

“Two days after our terrifically successful fundraiser, I had the sudden opportunity to go to Port au Prince with Seth Rolbein and a small group from Boston University.

Here we have been able to move through the astonishing, permanently life changing devastation and witness first hand some of the plans the government is scrambling to implement at a time when speed, human awareness and thinking outside the box is crucial to Haiti's regeneration.

I had the opportunity to give President Préval and his wife Elizabeth one of our scarves from the Artists of Matènwa (which she loved and immediately put on!) as a reminder that Haiti is large.

Right now all of the focus is on Port au Prince and its surrounds which redoubles my conviction that our own focus must be Lagonav, which I already see can easily remain left out of the aid loop.

I am happy to give you a preliminary report that our fundraising efforts this month (including the event at Messina Restaurant) have raised more than $45,000 and we are continuing to receive donations. Thank you thank you thank you!”

Ivan Watson explains how one of the consequences of the earthquake is a lack of food on Lagonav, an island where so much progress towards self-sufficiency had been made thanks to efforts by artists like Ellen LeBow. Donate money, or purchase one of the amazing silk scarves here, at Bee and Blossom, in Hyannis, or at the Wellfleet shop RaRa, which reopens in June.