Fundraiser for Haitian trade school a success

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The music was great, the food was great, and perhaps most importantly for a roof-top fundraiser, the weather was great.

So event organizer Russell Bynum said it was no surprise that the fundraising event to help build a technical trade school in Haiti was a success.

FundsForHaiti
FUNDS FOR HAITI—Russell and Kathy Bynum, Leon Pamphile, Anna Singer with “Sammy,” a moluccan cockatoo, and Don Kortlandt.

“We had about 60 people attend, hear the presentation, enjoy the music and food. We even had Haitian art for sale,” he said. “It went very well. People got to make new friends and enjoy scenes of hope as we work to rebuild lives.”

Entertainers included Bynum’s wife and gospel singer Kathy, local jazz icons Etta Cox and Al Dowe, Dr. James Johnson and Pamela Johnson from the Afro-American Music Institute, the Caribbean Vibes Steel Band, and opera singer and WQED radio host Anna P. Singer, who hosted the event at the Mt. Washington home she shares with Donald Kortlandt.

The purpose was to announce the launch of the funding campaign for a trade school in Thomassin, Haiti, about 20 miles from the capital of Port-Au-Prince. Bynum said the idea was formulated about two years ago by Dr. Leon Pamphile, director of Functional Literacy Ministry of Haiti, but didn’t really gain any impetus until after the massive January earthquake devastated the island.

“It was a catalyst. Others came forward,” said By­num. “Our goal is to help Haitians help themselves. We already have a clinic and schools on the island, but this approach is a little different. We want to build self-sufficiency.”

Bynum said the ministry, which he has worked with for years, wants to make sure that as Haiti rebuilds—it is the Haitians who do the rebuilding.

“We’ve seen how that can go around here,” he said. “We don’t want more dependency. When people come to rebuild or build new, Haitians will be involved from the ground up.”

The ministry already had an elementary school, a health clinic and 60 reading centers throughout the country. The trade school idea has already received the attention of musician Dave Matthews. His band’s nonprofit has already donated $250,000 to the project.

“This was the local launch, but we have our banquet Oct. 16 at Churchill Valley Country Club and will, of course be mentioning the trade school initiative again,” said Bynum. “We hope to raise between $500,000 and $700,000 to build the school, hopefully in two years. There like here, things are built but our people aren’t the builders.”

For more information contact Kathy or Russell Bynum at 412-471-4332 or go to http://www.flmhaiti.org.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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