Messages of Hope for Haiti Make it to Port Au Prince in Time For Earthquake Anniversary
On January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake occurred near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, destroying much of the nation’s infrastructure and killing thousands. Young people in Haiti were separated from their families, lost their schools, community centers and their homes.
Soon after the earthquake, the U.S. National Youth Leadership Council launched Messages of Hope for Haiti, an action campaign for the Roots & Shoots network across the globe. The campaign’s inspiration came from the words of H. Jackson Brown, Jr. who said, “Never deprive someone of hope—it may be all they have.” The campaign involved asking groups and individual members to create artwork and write letters or poetry with hopeful messages for young people affected by the earthquake.
Almost immediately after the initial request for letters and artwork went out, the packages started rolling in. Over the past year, we have received 7,504 messages from 31 states and eight countries, including letters, drawings, paintings, needlework, banners, posters, t-shirts and friendship bracelets.
Now, a year later, these messages are being distributed to young people in Haiti through the work and programs of Mercy Corps, and Kyle Dietrich, youth program manager for Mercy Corps and long-time friend of Roots & Shoots. Mercy Corps has trained over 3,000 Haitian educators, caregivers, and youth workers to better understand and respond to the emotional and physical needs of children and youth affected by crisis and traumatic events.
Earlier this month, all 7,504 messages were shipped to Mercy Corps to share with participants involved in their projects in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding communities. The messages are being distributed through their art therapy project, and Moving Forward, Mercy Corp's sport and play base project. Both projects involve more than 20 organizational partners on the ground, and reach over 2,500 young people. Some of the messages and artwork will also be used in an upcoming art display and photography exhibition.
The U.S. National Youth Leadership Council and the Roots & Shoots staff would like to thank the entire Roots & Shoots community for their help making this project such a success. It is truly amazing what we can accomplish when we work together toward a common goal, and we hope the Messages of Hope provide Haiti’s young people support during this difficult time.