Great News — Ananda is going to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti Blogger Ambassador!

I had to come back from my social media vacation and share the great news!  Recently, I was selected to travel to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti Blogger Ambassador with Willa Shalit of Fairwinds Trading and the Everywhere team on February 25-28.

When I return from my trip, I will host a live chat on Vokle about my experiences on March 5 at 8:00 pm ET.  Please join me. Click here to register and participate in the online chat.

One more thing — I began 2011 with a commitment to conduct digital advocacy and raise funds on Crowdrise.com for two Haitian organizations over the next two years (January 2011 – January 2013):

I am also raising funds for Renewal 4 Haiti with my “Open your heart to Haiti today!” CafePress.com site. Please consider making a donation to support these organizations. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

I’ll be back to my social media schedule in March. Until then, enjoy February!


Twitter Highlights from 1/19 Heart of Haiti Ambassador Show on Digital Sisterhood Radio

Last night’s Digital Sisterhood Radio show featuring a discussion about the digital advocacy efforts of Heart of Haiti Ambassadors “Mommy Niri” Nirasha Jaganath and ‘”Real Life Sarah” Sarah Pinnix was filled with insights on the power of giving back and supporting Haitian artisans through Macy’s Heart of Haiti partnership.  See highlights from the Twitter conversation below.  If you missed the show, click here to listen to the audio recording.

Twitter Highlights from 1/19 Heart of Haiti show on Digital Sisterhood Radio:

  1. Photo__36__normalmommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd: Thank you @mommyniri & @realifesarah for being great guests tonight on the #heartofhaiti show. You both rocked! #digitalsisterhood about 16 hours ago via TweetChat
  2. DonnaShenk @RealLIfeSarah I’m hoping to really dive into using my blogging to help serve and support #haiti #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  3. Photo__36__normal mommyniri RT @AmandaMichelle @digitalsisterhd OH! ppl should check out http://www.farmhaitiNOW.org! #digitalsisterhood #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via web
  4. Donna92010_copy_400x600 DonnaShenk RT @reallifesarah:I’m so glad you’re with us, Donna!! You are awesome! #digitalsisterhood #heartofhaiti Thanks Sarah for your advice! about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  5. Photo__36__normal mommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd @reallifesarah is giving simple ways to give back in yr local community now #heartofhaiti #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  6. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah @donnashenk I’m so glad you’re with us, Donna!! You are awesome! #digitalsisterhood #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  7. Img_0358_normal amandamichelle .@digitalsisterhd OH! ppl should check out http://www.farmhaitiNOW.org! #digitalsisterhood #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  8. Donna92010_copy_400x600 DonnaShenk How do you mom’s do it? I want to go and serve! I miss the travel and serving of others since motherhood – #Haiti #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  9. Donna92010_copy_400x600 DonnaShenk RT @reallifesarah: RT @theoutdoorwife: #Haiti shot on an iPhone – jeremycowart: http://jeremycowart.com/#951743/iPhone #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  10. Photo__36__normal mommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd @reallifesarah also plans to give #heartofhaiti collection as gifts to family and friends in 2011. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  11. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah RT @theoutdoorwife: #Haiti shot on an iPhone – jeremycowart: http://jeremycowart.com/#951743/iPhone #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  12. Avt_ladyday93_mediumbraids_normal LADYDAY93 RT @DigitalSisterhd: the #gno #heartofhaiti chat reminded @mommyniri that ppl have taken time out of their lives to discuss important issues. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetChat
  13. Photo__36__normal mommyniri @RealLifeSarah thank you! Tearing up from memories! #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via web
  14. Photo__36__normal mommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd @reallifesarah says she was inspired by #heartofhaiti to show her children how the wrld lives. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  15. Donna92010_copy_400x600 DonnaShenk RT @reallifesarah: I LOVE listening to @mommyniri ‘s beautiful voice! Her accent is so cool! #digitalsisterhood #heartofhaiti / beautiful! about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  16. B_normal brittont13 RT @DigitalSisterhd: the diversity of the #gno #heartofhaiti chat was so great says @reallifesarah #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetChat
  17. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: photos of haiti a year later made the experience real for @mommyniri during #heartofhaiti #gno chat #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  18. B_normal brittont13 RT @mommyniri: RT @DigitalSisterhd @reallifesarah said that she shed tears during the #heartofhaiti #gno chat last week becuz she was able 2 talk 2 artist about 17 hours ago via web
  19. Photo__36__normal mommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd the diversity of the #gno #heartofhaiti chat was so great says @reallifesarah #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  20. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: @RealLifeSarah -shed tears during #heartofhaiti #gno chat last wk bc she was able 2 talk 2 artists #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  21. Photo__36__normal mommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd @reallifesarah said that she shed tears during the #heartofhaiti #gno chat last week becuz she was able 2 talk 2 artist about 17 hours ago via web
  22. B_normal brittont13 RT @RealLifeSarah: I LOVE listening to @mommyniri ‘s beautiful voice! Her accent is so cool! #digitalsisterhood #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  23. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah I LOVE listening to @mommyniri ‘s beautiful voice! Her accent is so cool! #digitalsisterhood #heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  24. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah RT @brittont13: RT @DigitalSisterhd: @mommyniri says her fav #heartofhaiti blog post was about going to haiti as an amb. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  25. Photo__36__normal mommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd @reallifesarah also wrote a great week of posts for giving #heartofhaiti gifts to teachers #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  26. Everywhere_normal beEverywhere RT @DigitalSisterhd: @mommyniri says her fav #heartofhaiti blog post was the one she wrote about going to haiti as an ambassador. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetGrid.com
  27. B_normal brittont13 RT @DigitalSisterhd: @mommyniri says her fav #heartofhaiti blog post was the one she wrote about going to haiti as an ambassador. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetGrid.com
  28. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: @mommyniri has been on receiving end of receiving aid in south africa during riots. #heartofhaiti #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  29. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah Come listen NOW! #HeartofHaiti ambassdrs @banteringblonde @mommyniri @RealLifeSarah @fabdogooder on DSRadio @8pm http://bit.ly/RU8jz about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  30. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normal RealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: @RealLifeSarah is talking about how she heard @ the #heartofhaiti campaign from @theblogrollers. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  31. 27449_100001453225148_6931_nlaurapic_normal DemLaura33 RT @amandamichelle: RT @digitalsisterhd: #DigitalSisterhood Radio @8pm ET for #HeartofHaiti Ambassadors show. Join us. http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015 about 18 hours ago via HootSuite
  32. Photo__36__normalmommyniri RT @AmandaMichelle@digitalsisterhd OH! ppl should check out http://www.farmhaitiNOW.org! #digitalsisterhood#heartofhaiti about 16 hours ago
  33. DonnaShenk RT @reallifesarah:I’m so glad you’re with us, Donna!! You are awesome! #digitalsisterhood#heartofhaiti Thanks Sarah for your advice! about 16 hours ago via HootSuite
  34. Photo__36__normalmommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd@reallifesarah is giving simple ways to give back in yr local community now #heartofhaiti#digitalsisterhood about 16 hours ago via web
  35. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah@donnashenk I’m so glad you’re with us, Donna!! You are awesome! #digitalsisterhood#heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  36. Img_0358_normalamandamichelle .@digitalsisterhd OH! ppl should check out http://www.farmhaitiNOW.org! #digitalsisterhood#heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  37. Photo__36__normalmommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd@reallifesarah also plans to give #heartofhaiti collection as gifts to family and friends in 2011. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  38. Avt_ladyday93_mediumbraids_normalLADYDAY93 RT @DigitalSisterhd: the #gno#heartofhaiti chat reminded @mommyniri that ppl have taken time out of their lives to discuss important issues. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetChat
  39. Face_normalKatherineMO TY! RT @DigitalSisterhd: Happy #Digitalsisterhood Wednesday @thejstandard@vwoodsonhair@heyheylbj@spelmancollege@spelmandmis@marcommodel about 17 hours ago via TweetDeck
  40. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah I feel so humbled, listening to @mommyniri, and all she’s been through! #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  41. Photo__36__normalmommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd@reallifesarah says she was inspired by #heartofhaiti to show her children how the wrld lives. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  42. Donna92010_copy_400x600DonnaShenk RT @reallifesarah: I LOVE listening to @mommyniri ‘s beautiful voice! Her accent is so cool! #digitalsisterhood#heartofhaiti / beautiful! about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  43. B_normalbrittont13 RT @DigitalSisterhd: the diversity of the #gno#heartofhaiti chat was so great says @reallifesarah#digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetChat
  44. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: photos of haiti a year later made the experience real for @mommyniri during #heartofhaiti#gno chat #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  45. Photo__36__normalmommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd the diversity of the #gno#heartofhaiti chat was so great says @reallifesarah#digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  46. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: @RealLifeSarah -shed tears during #heartofhaiti#gno chat last wk bc she was able 2 talk 2 artists #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  47. B_normalbrittont13 RT @RealLifeSarah: I LOVE listening to @mommyniri ‘s beautiful voice! Her accent is so cool! #digitalsisterhood#heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  48. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah I LOVE listening to @mommyniri ‘s beautiful voice! Her accent is so cool! #digitalsisterhood#heartofhaiti about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  49. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah RT @brittont13: RT @DigitalSisterhd: @mommyniri says her fav #heartofhaiti blog post was about going to haiti as an amb. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  50. Photo__36__normalmommyniri RT @DigitalSisterhd@reallifesarah also wrote a great week of posts for giving #heartofhaiti gifts to teachers #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via web
  51. Everywhere_normalbeEverywhere RT @DigitalSisterhd: @mommyniri says her fav #heartofhaiti blog post was the one she wrote about going to haiti as an ambassador. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetGrid.com
  52. B_normalbrittont13 RT @DigitalSisterhd: @mommyniri says her fav #heartofhaiti blog post was the one she wrote about going to haiti as an ambassador. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via TweetGrid.com
  53. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: @mommyniri has been on receiving end of receiving aid in south africa during riots. #heartofhaiti#digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  54. B351d3ce-cb8f-4e0a-bf99-84ac3c2eec44_normalRealLifeSarah RT @digitalsisterhd: @RealLifeSarah is talking about how she heard @ the #heartofhaiti campaign from @theblogrollers. #digitalsisterhood about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  55. 27449_100001453225148_6931_nlaurapic_normalDemLaura33 RT @amandamichelle: RT @digitalsisterhd: #DigitalSisterhood Radio @8pm ET for #HeartofHaiti Ambassadors show. Join us. http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015 about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  56. Img_0358_normalamandamichelle RT @digitalsisterhd: #DigitalSisterhood Radio @8pm ET for #HeartofHaiti Ambassadors show. Join us. http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015 about 17 hours ago via HootSuite
  57. Pierrettemimi02protrait-4705_normalyayayarndiva RT @DigitalSisterhd: Use http://tweetchat.com to follow tonight’s #HeartofHaiti show on #Digitalsisterhood Radio at 8pm. #digitalsisterhood about 18 hours ago via TweetChat
  58. Avt_ladyday93_mediumbraids_normalLADYDAY93 RT @DigitalSisterhd: Almost time for #DigitalSisterhood Radio @8pm ET for #HeartofHaiti Ambassadors show. Join us. http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015 about 18 hours ago via HootSuite

How I Plan to Keep the Heart of Haiti Beating in 2011: Way #8 – Host a Radio Show Featuring the Heart of Haiti Ambassadors on 1/19 @8pm ET

Today I am keeping the heart of Haiti beating by hosting a Digital Sisterhood Radio show about the digital advocacy efforts of my fellow Heart of Haiti Ambassadors. Click here to tune into the live show at 8:00 pm ET.  You will have an opportunity to hear from the following Heart of Haiti Ambassadors:

1) Fiona Bryan,

2) Nirasha Jaganath,

3) Sarah Pinnix, and

4) Bessie Winn-Afeku.

 

I will live tweet during the show.  Please use the hashtags #digitalsisterhood and #HeartofHaiti to follow the conversation on Twitter tonight.  You can also use http://tweetchat.com/room/digitalsisterhood.

If you miss the live show, don’t fret. You can click here to listen to an audio recording (search for the January 19th show in the archives section).

How I Plan to Keep the Heart of Haiti Beating in 2011: Way #6 – Support Haiti with Local Shopping

012, originally uploaded by anandaleeke.

As a Heart of Haiti Ambassador, I am on the look out for ways to keep the Heart of Haiti beating in 2011 and beyond. One way I discovered is to support local entrepreneurs who are raising money to fund projects that help rebuild Haiti. In early January, I discovered a set of fabulous set of recycled black rubber bangles from Haiti made by a DC based photographer Nicole Wolf – http://twitter.com/nicolewolf – in REDEEM, a boutique located in my 14th and U Street, NW neighborhood in DC. I bought a set of three for $10. The money I spent will help support Nicole’s Up from Under Facebook Cause, a Haitian home rebuilding project. If you are in the DC area, drop by REDEEM, 1734 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC to purchase a set of bangles. Visit http://redeemus.com for more information.

Nicole’s Haiti fundraiser inspired me to create my own using my art work from my novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One. Visit my Cafepress.com site for my “Open your heart to Haiti today!” fundraiser – http://www.cafepress.com/openyourhearttohaititoday – to check out t-shirt, cups and other items. Your purchase will help support Renewal 4 Haiti, a grassroots nonprofit organization that is providing medical care in Haiti. Visit http://renewal4haiti.org for more information.

How I Plan to Keep the Heart of Haiti Beating in 2011: Way #5 – Honor the Memory of 3 Haitian Feminist Leaders Myriam Merlet, Anne-Marie Coriolan, and Magalie Marcelin

Photo Credit: International Women’s Health Coalition – www.flickr.com/photos/iwhc/4328112802

 

Today marks the first year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake.  As a Heart of Haiti Ambassador, I am honoring the memory of three dynamic feminist leaders Myriam Merlet, Anne-Marie Coriolan, and Magalie Marcelin who died as a result of this devastating event. See the photo and look in the background for the wall hanging displaying photos of the three feminist leaders (photo was taken on January 27, 2010 at The International Feminist Solidarity Camp held in the Dominican Republic).

Myriam Merlet served as the chief of staff of Haiti’s Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women. She was also an author, activist, and founder of Enfofamn, an organization that raises awareness about women through media, collects stories and works to honor their names. She convinced author and playwright Eve Ensler to bring “The Vagina Monologues” play to Haiti.  Her efforts also established safe houses for women in Port-au-Prince and Cap Hatien.

Magalie Marcelin enjoyed a dynamic career as a lawyer, film and stage actress, and founder of  Kay Fanm, a women’s rights organization that addresses domestic violence and provides services, shelter, and microcredit loans to women.

Anne Marie Coriolan was as a top adviser to Haiti’s Ministry for Gender and the Rights of Women and founder of Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen (Solidarity with Haitian Women, or SOFA), an advocacy and services organization.

Today I am sending love and light to these three feminist leaders and the women of Haiti. May we all be inspired by their legacy of service!

How I Plan to Keep the Heart of Haiti Beating in 2011: Way #3 – Become more aware of Haitian women’s lives by supporting the documentary film Poto Mitan: Haitian Women Pillars of the Global Economy

Serving as a Heart of Haiti ambassador has reignited my interest in the lives of Haitian women which began in 1985 when I met my Morgan State University roommate and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sister Marie-Denise (Mirabeau) Simon and her mother “Mama Freda.”  Mama Freda is a no nonsense Haitian woman who loves the goodness of life. She can cook up a Haitian feast fit for Haitian queens too! During one of our many conversations, she told me about her early life in Haiti, how she studied nursing in Canada, and later moved to New York City to work as a nurse. Her stories were filled with moments when she reached into her spirit for courage and faith to live beyond any limitations people or society placed on her.  She always encouraged me to be a caring, generous, intelligent, and independent femme (woman) who uses her life to help others.

Ten years after meeting Mama Freda, my interest in Haitian women blossomed into a full blown passion during the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.  While in Beijing, I learned about the history of Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale or Women’s League for Social Action, the first Haitian feminist organization that was established by Haitian women intellectuals, professionals, and activists from the middle and upper classes in 1934.  During their first 25 years of existence, Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale focused its energy on gaining women’s rights  to vote, access to education, and equality for married women.  Since then, I have followed the work of Haitian feminist organizations Solidarité Fanm Ayisyen (SOFA, Haitian Women’s Solidarity) and Kay Fanm (Women’s House).

Photo Credit: http://www.potomitan.net

After the earthquake in 2010, I started looking online for women’s organizations and other efforts that support and tell the stories of Haitian women.  My online research led me to Poto Mitan, a documentary film about the compelling lives of five courageous Haitian women workers.   Join the Facebook Page to learn more about the film.  I plan to purchase the film’s DVD and share it with family and friends this year. Watch the YouTube video trailer below.

I also plan to pay more attention to the work of Haitian feminist organizations, launch an online fundraiser (or two) to support the organizations, and share more information about the lives and concerns of Haitian women on this blog and my Digital Sisterhood Network web site.

What are you planning to do to honor the people of Haiti this year?

PS: Be sure to listen to NPR’s Tell Me More’s report on Haitian women and the impact of rape on their lives after the January 2010 earthquake that aired today.

My Reasons for Wanting to Travel to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti Ambassador in 2011

Submission #2, #2 – Papa Legba se pou jodi-a ou gran chimen (2010), a painting by Ananda Leeke — originally uploaded by anandaleeke.

My love affair with Haiti began when I enrolled in my first French class as a sophomore at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton High School in 1979. During that year, I became fascinated with French speaking countries in the African Diaspora. Haiti’s historical legacy as the first Black republic quickly made it one of my personal favorites.

My passion for Haiti and Haitian-influenced art was deepened during my college years as a French major at Morgan State University from 1982 to 1986. Through my studies I discovered the work of Dr. Lois Mailou Jones, an artist and professor of art at Howard University. Jones’ Haitian-inspired work that included Vodun veves captivated my psyche and stayed there until I began my own studies of Vodun spirituality in the 1990s.

Meeting my Haitian American college roommate and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sister Marie Denise (Mirabeau) Simon and her Haitian mother “Mama Freda” in 1985 helped me develop an interest in the lives of Haitian women. During one of our many conversations, Mama Freda told me about her early life in Haiti, how she studied nursing in Canada, and later moved to New York City to work as a nurse. Her stories were filled with moments when she reached into her spirit for courage and faith to live beyond any limitations people or society placed on her.

My interest in Haitian women blossomed into a full blown passion during the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, China in 1995. While in Beijing, I learned about the history of Ligue Feminine d’Action Sociale or Women’s League for Social Action, the first Haitian feminist organization.

During the 1990s, I spent a lot of time learning about the Haitian love and healing goddess Erzulie, the Haitian god of the crossroads Papa Elegba, and Haitian Vodun symbols called veves. Since then, their energy has inspired my writing and art. In 2007, my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One was published and included artwork on the cover and inside of the book that was inspired by Erzulie’s veve. Erzulie is also a dynamic force in the life of Love’s Troubadours’ main character. Papa Elegba makes his grand appearance in poetry and reflections included in my most recent book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery.

As an artist and writer living in America, I have struggled with how I express my support for the people of Haiti as they re-imagine and reshape their country after the devastating earthquake in January 2010. My struggle played itself out in internal dialogue that found its way onto the pages of my journal. I used my journal to release what I could no longer hold inside as I stood at my own crossroads. Through this process, I reconnected with the power of Papa Elegba and discovered how I could contribute my light, energy, creativity, and love to support the sisters and brothers of Haiti. The poem below captures my journey of discovery.

Three Prayers to Papa Legba from A Daughter of the Diaspora Seeking to Re-Imagine Haiti by Ananda Leeke

#1

I stand at the crossroads, feeling overwhelmed and lost.
I want to run, but I know change is coming.
I know I need to stay put and grounded.
I know I need to take action.

Papa Legba ouvre baye pou mwen, Agoeh!
Papa Legba, open the gate for me.
Point me in the right direction.

#2

Papa Legba se pou jodi-a ou gran chimen
Papa Legba, forever, you have been the highway, the spiritual gateway so I might see the contradictions and opportunities along my path.
I seek your guidance.

#3

Papa Legba, you are the voice of God.
Speak your wisdom.
I will listen.
Amen.

I repeat this prayer over and over again.
It becomes my mantra as I seek to go within.
It allows me to sit with the discomfort of not having an immediate answer for a question I have been asking myself since the January 2010 earthquake.

How can I use my passion for Haiti, creativity, healing energy, and life to support Haitian sisters and brothers as they restore their souls, release the past, re-imagine, and rebuild their lives and country?

The task is mighty.
Overwhelming.
Sometimes it’s easier to just press click and make a donation.
But I am not here to seek the easy.
I am here to shine my light.
So I continue to sit with open ears and a willing heart, waiting with positive expectation for direction.

In this holding pattern, I resist the need to move on.
That’s so easy to do in America.
We have short memories.
And sometimes we forget our ancestral ties so quickly because it’s too much for our souls to bear.
But not this time.

I baptize myself in the water of Diaspora memories so I will not forget the way my heart broke as I listened to news reports, saw photos, watched videos, read Facebook posts, and followed Twitter feeds about the devastation caused by the earthquake.

I will not forget the tears I cried.
I will not forget my prayers to Erzulie for an outpouring of love from everyone in the world so that the people of Haiti would know they were not alone.

So where does all this waiting and remembering take me?

Maybe it I am attempting to stay in my head and off my feet.
I wonder as I record my thoughts in my journal and paint them on the canvas if I am holding back for fear of doing more.
I get serious with myself and force an answer to the question.

Am I hiding out in the wings creating my self-imposed crossroads because it’s easier to say I am waiting for Spirit to guide me almost a year after I uttered my first prayer to Elegba?

Perhaps I am a lazy artist dwelling in safety, exploring my psyche when my sisters and brothers of Haiti cannot afford my personal luxury.

Perhaps if I stepped out on faith and meditated on what victory would look like for the Haitian people, I’d wake up to my full self and take action.

Perhaps if I banned the word perhaps from my vocabulary, something larger outside of me would happen.

I muster the courage to stand and step out on faith
My third eye opens widely.
The visions of victory appear.
They meet me at my crossroads.
I utter the words of my prayer.

Papa Legba ouvre baye pou mwen, Agoeh.
Papa Legba se pou jodi-a ou gran chimen.
Papa Legba, you are the voice of God.
Speak your wisdom.
I will listen.
Amen.

This time I move with my prayer.
Action comes one person and one step at a time.
I don’t hesitate.
I join others.
Our collective love, energy, and power fuel the change.

And little by little, I begin to see that I can press click and make a donation,

I can give my art and poetry as gifts and fundraiser donations to remind people of their oneness with Haiti and her daughters and sons.

I can volunteer my time to serve as a Heart of Haiti Ambassador and help raise awareness and financial support for Haitian artisans and their families.

I can use my voice to tell others about the Haitian people online and offline.

I can send healing love, light, and energy to the Haitian people.

And I can remain open to additional solutions that will reshape and rebuild Haiti into a nation of greatness.

Today I read this poem out loud several times after reading journalist Lisa Armstrong’s article about Haitian women who have mobilized themselves to fight for protection and justice for their Haitian sisters after the earthquake in the January issue of Essence Magazine. The poem and article helped me acknowledge to myself that I want to travel to Haiti to see and learn firsthand how I can help Haitian women and children on a long-term basis. Traveling to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti Ambassador with Fair Winds Trading founder Willa Shalit is one way I can begin the process of making a long-term commitment to serving women and children in Haiti. That’s why I have decided to submit my name as a candidate for the Heart of Haiti Ambassador trip to Haiti.

Open Your Heart to Haiti with Yoga and Meditation on January 12 at 7 AM ET

 

009, originally uploaded by anandaleeke. Photo Credit:  Foto Week DC

Last year I became a Heart of Haiti ambassador because I wanted to give back to Haiti and her people.  This year I am using the energy I stirred up within myself as a Heart of Haiti ambassador to teach an online yoga and meditation class on January 12 from 7:00 am to 7:15 am ET that will encourage you to open your heart to helping the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and country after the earthquake that happened on January 12, 2010. Click on the link to participate in the class: http://stickam.com/anandaleeke. If you miss the live class, check out the video on the same site.

Remembering Haiti’s Earthquake in 2010

 

010, originally uploaded by anandaleeke. Photo from FotoWeek DC 2010

During my work week, I have an opportunity to remember Haiti and her people as I walk to and from work through the Crystal City underground in Crystal City, Virgina.  A series of FotoWeekDC 2010 photos taken during the Haitian earthquake on January 12, 2010, greet me each day. See photo above. They remind me how connected we are through our humanity and the power we each have to help another person. Click here to listen to my audio blog about the photos and my plans for keeping the heart of Haiti beating as a Heart of Haiti ambassador in 2011.

Saluting A Heart of Social Good: Pamela Pressley, Founder/Editor of The COTILLION

Photo Credit: Pamela Pressley's Facebook Photo Collection

As a Heart of Haiti ambassador, I was asked to blog about a fellow blogger who has a “Heart of Social Good.”  Pamela Pressley, founder and publisher of The COTILLION has an overflowing “Heart of Social Good!”  Pamela established The COTILLION to serve as a news resource and membership organization dedicated to highlighting and promoting philanthropic and cultural enrichment activities in the Washington, DC area and other metropolitan cities. In November 2010, she organized the National Philanthropy Day with The COTILLION, an event that gave Washington DC professionals and area philanthropist an opportunity to discuss their causes or missions.

Pamela and I met at my book signing in December 2009.  I will always remember the way she shined her smile as she talked about her work with The COTILLION.  Her positive energy, passion, and commitment to tell the stories of people and organizations who are involved in social good efforts was IMPRESSIVE and INSPIRING!  In the midst of telling these stories, I have watched her personally serve organizations and causes. She has a generous spirit and shares what she knows with anyone who asks.  That’s what makes Pamela a precious diamond diva with a Heart of Social Good who gives back and encourages others to do the same!

Are you planning to share your “Heart of Social Good” with an organization or cause in 2011? How? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

PS: Remember to follow the Heart of Haiti campaign on Twitter to stay updated about January 2011 events.