Film, discussion will focus on Haitian cholera epidemic

Brandeis-Haiti Initiative striving to raise awareness of UN role

Brian Concannon Jr.

“Baseball in the Time of Cholera”, a short documentary on the devastating impact that United Nations-introduced cholera had on Haiti in 2010, will be screened at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Olin-Sang Auditorium.

The screening will be followed by a discussion led by Brian Concannon Jr., director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. The film and discussion are sponsored by the Brandeis-Haiti Initiative.

The initiative, which was founded shortly after an earthquake devastated the country in January 2010, seeks to educate the Brandeis community about Haiti’s cultural history and the challenges Haiti faces. It is a chapter of the Global Haiti Initiative, an intercollegiate organization that supports developmental programs in Haiti.

In October of 2010, Nepalese soldiers from a United Nations stabilization mission dumped sewage into a stream near the small village of Meille. The soldiers were carrying a cholera virus and their waste, which flowed into Haiti’s most important river, caused an epidemic that caused approximately 7,000 deaths and sickened more than 530,000 people.

In November 2011, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which trains lawyers and represents victims of human rights abuses, filed a lawsuit against the United Nations on behalf of the victims of the cholera epidemic. The suit demands that\the UN install a national water and sanitation system to help prevent future epidemics, compensate individual victims of the 2010 epidemic and issue a public apology.

“As citizens of this country and moreover the greater global community, it is our duty to bring attention to injustices that reside around the world,” said Amanda Dryer ’13, one of three co-presidents of the Brandeis-Haiti Initiative. “By failing to address the cholera epidemic, the U.N. has lacked two of our university’s core values – integrity and civility.”

She said that she and co-president J.V. Souffrant ’13, “believe that it is important to show respect to the Haitian people by bringing awareness to the cholera epidemic. We want to use our skills as campus leaders to not only embrace diversity by bringing attention to an issue outside of our country, but also act upon the great foundation of this university: social justice.” 

Souffrant said he “got involved with the Brandeis Haiti Initiative because it was a great way to inform the members of the Brandeis community about the key issues affecting the people of Haiti. Being that I am Haitian-American, I believe that it is essential for someone like myself, who has strong ties to Haiti, to offer my help in any way possible.”

The Brandeis initiative raises money to support Empowering Through Education Camp, a summer camp and education program for Haitian children created by Brandeis alum Shaina Gilbert ’10. Members also have worked with Professor Jane Hale’s “Famni Ki Li Ansamn” program, which distributes books to families in Lesotho, in Haiti, and in Massachusetts and have worked with the Student Union at its annual Hoops for Haiti basketball game, which raises funds for ETE Camp via a friendly game of basketball pitting students against a faculty and staff team..

Categories: International Affairs, Student Life

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