NEW ORLEANS - Xavier University of Louisiana will observe the anniversary of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake disaster on WednesdayJanuary 12, 2011 with a midday Mass of Remembrance, followed in the afternoon by a Moment of Silence at the time the tragedy happened, and later a 6:30pm screening of “The Sugar Babies” -- a human rights documentary film about Caribbean sugar plantations and the exploitation of children.Director Amy Serrano will introduce the film and later field questions from the audience.
The 12:00 noon Mass in the XU Chapel on January 12 will be held in remembrance of the tragic earthquake that claimed more than 200,000 lives and destroyed Haiti’s major cities. University chaplain Rev. Giles Conwill will be the Celebrant.
At 3:53pm, the Xavier campus community will observe a moment of silence and prayer at the exact time the earthquake struck Haiti. Then, at 6:30pm, the documentary movie screening occurs at the University Center (Room 205). It is free and open to the public.
“We at XU have much to be proud of vis-a-vis our efforts to not only raise funds for relief, but also to engage the campus in continued activities and events designed to increase our awareness of the Haitian people and their culture -- in addition, of course, to monitoring what is going on with relief efforts since last year's earthquake including the latest cholera epidemic,” said Pamela Franco, Haiti Cherie relief committee coordinator.
Since the tragedy Xavier’s faculty, students & staff have raised more than $16,000 and distributed most of those funds to non-profit relief efforts – not only right after the tragedy, but more recently to provide critically needed medical supplies for fighting the Haitian cholera epidemic.
In addition to fundraising, the university has also co-sponsored several Haiti-focused activities, exhibits and academic programs designed to enhance the Xavier community’s awareness of the many ties between Haiti and New Orleans’s own cultural history.In fact, a Haiti-themed high school essay contest in association with the university’s Department of History is currently underway.
The documentary “The Sugar Babies” is a modern tale of slavery and sugar in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor in the Caribbean.It explores the lives of descendants of the first Africans delivered to the island of Hispaniola for the bittersweet commodity that once ruled the world.These very same people continued to be trafficked to work in sugar under circumstances that can only be considered modern day slavery.
The critically acclaimed film is narrated by award-winning author Edwidge Danticat, and examines the moral price of sugar –present and past—from the perspective of conditions surrounding the children of sugar cane cutters of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic, and the continuing denial of their basic human rights.It received an Emmy Award in the human interest section, and it was named Best Documentary at the Delray Beach Film Festival in 2008.
Plans are underway for continued activities at Xavier designed to keep the campus engaged during the Spring 2011 semester.