CNN’s Soledad O’Brien Returns: Screens Haiti Doc
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien returned to the York College Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 30, 2010 with an advance look at “Rescued,” a documentary about the children of Haiti, before and after January’s earthquake.
Led by O’Brien, a panel featuring York’s Ron Daniels then considered the future of Haiti’s littlest earthquake victims and the role they might play in rescuing their country.
President Marcia V. Keizs welcomed O’Brien back to York, where the CNN anchor and special correspondent last year served as host for the college’s fundraising concert featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell and honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. O’Brien thanked the president and the York community for allowing her to bring the preview to the Performing Arts Center, “because I know we’ll have some great conversation” on Haiti.
“Rescued,” looks at the lives of Haiti’s children through the eyes of 6-year-old Cendy Jeune – not an orphan, but abandoned by her parents and brought to the Lighthouse -- and former child slave Marckenson Oliphi, who as a child was sold by his family for the equivalent of $12. Oliphi, now 22, works for the Manasseros.
While the largely white, American Christian missionaries running many of Haiti’s orphanages drew praise for their efforts, the panelists took O’Brien’s stories in other directions.
African-Americans owe the people of Haiti a great debt for their historic role – as the site of the first successful slave revolution and creation of the first republic ruled by people of African descent -- said Daniels, who has been involved with Haiti through the Institute of the Black World 21st Century an the Haiti Support Project. The connection with history requires greater involvement by the community, he said, calling for the sustainable economic development that comes from housing, job training, education and employment.
The production, scheduled to air Saturday at 8 p.m., features the residents and graduates of a Christian orphanage called the Lighthouse, run by American missionaries Bill and Susette Manassero.
And sending Haitian’s orphans out of the country to adoptions in the U.S. and elsewhere, deprives that redevelopment of its human resources. “We must empower the nation, to help the children stay and make a better Haiti,” he said.
Bishop Joel Jeune, who operates the large Grace Village orphanage with his wife, took in more than 15,000 people in the days following the earthquake. With medical partners, Grace Village now provides services to more then 25,000. When children “age out” of his orphanage, he said, they frequently go on to college in Jamaica, Canada and the U.S. The first option, he said, should be for children to stay in Haiti and build them into citizens.
That goal, along with the preview scenes from the CNN documentary, suggests that support and encouragement should go to orphanages that go beyond saving children from the streets to real education and job-training components.
Pediatrician and pastor Dr. Mark Wade, founder and president of Arise and Walk Ministries, brings volunteers to Jeune’s facility the first week of each month. He agreed with Daniels and Bishop Jeune that people of color – especially medical professionals and those called to missionary work – should consider joining projects in Haiti.