An Unexpected Jam Session In Haiti

In February I made a proposition to my friends, family and colleagues: help me fundraise to go on the Inside Haiti trip with JDC Entwine, and I will bake you cookies. Donations poured in, and I found myself unbelievably grateful for the support and up to my elbows in snickerdoodle requests.

My goal was to get a taste of the “real” Haiti, not just what we see, and, more often, don’t see, on TV. I also hoped that the program would fulfill and further fuel my desires to pursue tikkun olam.

I was wary of how our media often portrays this country as nothing but tragedy and was turned off by their ignoring it after Hurricane Sandy because overturned yachts make better images than an emerging cholera epidemic. I wanted to see the place for what it was so I could give people a personal connection to this country so close to our own.

My experience was nothing like what our media had led me to anticipate. Haiti is a living, breathing country, filled with beauty, love, nationalism, and a vibrant culture. While it is certainly in worse shape than many places, people go on living and working to make the best of it. So many times more prominent than the crumbled buildings were the smells of street food, the mango trees laden with fruit, the smiles, the songs drifting from churches, and the brightly painted advertisements on the walls.

Avi, a fellow Entwine Insider, and myself both brought our ukuleles. One afternoon while we were sitting playing “I’m Yours” in the shade by the school in Zoranje, a boy of about 11 walked up to us. A crowd began to form. This boy leaned over to Karl, a 19 year old who speaks English, and whispered in his ear. “He wants to rap,” Karl told us. Um, OK. Sure. We stopped singing and continued the reggae rhythm and the kid stepped forward. What followed was unequivocally the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me:

Watch the jam session here.

Later, I asked Karl what the boy was rapping about in Creole. “Oh,” he replied. “He was saying that he has hope. He knows that one day Haiti will be a better place.”


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July 16, 2013 at 4:25 PM




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