Haiti, the Pearl of the Antilles

... A Melrose family, with the help of the Melrose Community, brings love and aid to L'Asile, Haiti

from Rebecca Noelle Zama

Rebecca with her Mother Nunotte, Father Brian and Brother Joey visited the Musee du Pantheon National while in Haiti.

Haiti is a beautiful island in the Caribbean, home to 9 million people and just as big as the state of Maryland. Haiti gained its independence in 1804 from the French, becoming the first independent black nation in the Western Hemisphere. 209 years later, it is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, 80% of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. Although it is poor, Haiti is a country full of beautiful history, people and culture. Haiti has two national languages, Haitian Creole and French.

Haitian music is widely spread and appreciated. Haitian art and dance are world renowned and valued. Haiti also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

As things seemed to get better in Haiti, natural disaster struck and pulled Haiti back into a life of hardship. On January 12th, 2010, a 7.0 scale earthquake struck the island, killing thousands of people and destroyed many cities, especially the capital, Port-au-Prince. Millions of people were left homeless by the earthquake, living on the devastated streets.

Before international aid could come, many Haitians did whatever they could to save people under the rubble. Tent cities for families without homes were made throughout the capital and surrounding cities. Every Haitian was affected by the earthquake, schools shattered, homes collapsed, prisons broke, and thousands perished in this awful and tragic event.

Shortly after the earthquake, Haiti was hit by a cholera epidemic, killing over 8,000 people. Even today, people are being diagnosed and seeking treatment for this water born disease.

The international community has been trying to help the country out. Many NGOs like Unicef and Oxfam, sent food like rice and potable water and tents for the desperate Haitians. The Red Cross collected over 1 billion dollars for Haiti, unfortunately not all the money has been used to help the Haitian people. The help that is being given to Haiti is not sustainable and after three years there is much to be done.

Many Haitians both in Haiti and abroad have been doing what they can to help the country. Many Haitians living in foreign countries have created organizations, gone on mission trips and have raised money to help communities that are struggling. My family on my mother’s side is from a village called L’Azile, in the south of Haiti. It is made up of poor and rural communes.

Rebecca playing with the kids for whom they organize summer camp in Haiti.with her Mother, Father and Brother Joey visited the Musee du Pantheon National while in Haiti.

Throughout the year, different members of my family travel to Haiti to bring much needed help. We started an organization to help the children of those communities become more independent, resourceful and to help them enjoy their childhood.  The name of the organization is “Foundation to Help Youth of L’Asile, Haiti, Inc.”.  The website is

With the help of the Melrose community, in particular, the Melrose Recreation and Mayor Dolan, we have collected and shipped to Haiti, sports equipment for soccer, the major sport in Haiti and have made teams within the schools. We also collected baseball equipment and the Cuban doctors who work in the community hospital in L’Asile have volunteered to teach the kids how to play baseball. We hope to continue providing the schools with much needed supplies and the youth with sports equipment for extra-curricular activities.

During the summer months, we organize summer activities within the schools and hold competitions such as: singing, dancing, drawing, races, and soccer tournaments. Haiti is struggling, it just needs a push to prosper, the least we can do is try to help them leap onto the next stone in its bright future. If you want to help, please e-mail us at or call 617-212-5922. Thank you for your continued support.

By Melrose Resident, Rebecca Noelle Zama, 14 years old, 10th Grade at the International School of Boston in Cambridge.  

January 3, 2014

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