Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Next Haitian President Could Be A Woman – Mirlande Manigat


Poster of Haitian Presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat in Jacmel, Haiti

While I was visiting Jacmel, Haiti during my Heart of Haiti blogger trip in February, I saw posters of Rally of Progressive National Democrats’ Presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat, a 70 year old politician, legal scholar, former Senator, Sorbonne-trained academic, mother, grandmother, and wife of former Haitian President Leslie Manigat.  Guess what? In three days, the former First Lady and vice rector of the Université Quisqueya in Port-au-Prince could make Haitian women’s history by becoming the first woman President of Haiti. Click here to learn more about her.

Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Mardi Gras and Masks in Jacmel, Haiti

Photo Credit:
Haitian people wearing masks at Jacmel, Haiti carnival in February 2011

New Orleans is one of my favorite places to visit. It is magical. It is filled with feathered masks, crepes,

Mardi Gras beads, and Vodon spirituality.  I fell in love with the Crescent City during my first visit in 1978.  It was a family vacation attached to my mother’s sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.’s national convention (my sorority too)! N’awlins got underneath my skin and stayed there until I visited again in 1997.  That trip transformed my life. I thought I was there to get my groove on, but NOLA knew better.  Turns out I was summoned by Spirit and the characters in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One.  They led me to the Essence Music Festival and dropped me in the middle of the French Quarter with one instruction: be open.  So I walked in and out of shops, made small talk with local folks, followed the NOLA yellow brick broad to various neighborhoods, bookstores, and cafes.   The end results were a collection of Mardi Gras feathered masks and a few pages of dialogue from characters with New Orleans roots.

Ananda posing in her New Orleans Mardi Gras mask as Sapphire, one of her archetypes
Ananda wearing paper mache mask during Jacmel, Haiti Carnival
Ananda wearing a paper mache mask at Jacmel, Haiti Carnival

Fast forward to today where I am thinking about the power of masks in Mardi Gras, the Jacmel, Haiti Carnival, and my own life.   Whenever I see or wear a Mardi Gras mask, I am transported to a mystical, magical, and mysterious place that lets the good times roll all day long!   I am also reminded of how colorful and creative masks can be.  The paper mache masks that I saw and purchased recently during my Heart of Haiti trip in Jacmel, Haiti, were so animated.  They came to life on their own.  They provoked storytelling in my mind. Now that’s a powerful set of masks!

Paper Mache Masks Made in Jacmel, Haiti


Paper mache masks in Jacmel, Haiti



Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Developing Digital Sisterhood Bonds in Haiti

Nathalie Tancrede, Deana Jirak, Willa Shalit, Sloane Berrent, Ananda, Juliana Um & Johnica Reed

Today is Digital Sisterhood Wednesday on Twitter.  That means the Digital Sisterhood Network is in full force  —

Ananda & Pascal Faublas, Jacmel Director for Fairwinds Trading

celebrating and promoting their digital sisters by tweeting about their businesses, wisdom, creativity, blogs, Facebook pages, causes, videos, and web sites.  I created #DigitalSisterhood Wednesdays during the 2010 Blogalicious Weekend Conference and  launched the weekly Twitter celebration to  give women in social media a weekly opportunity to build and strengthen their communities. Each week women are encouraged to celebrate and promote their digital sisters by using the #FF (Friday Follow) format.  This weekly celebration gave birth to Digital Sisterhood Month and the Digital Sisterhood Network in December.  One of the lessons I learned during Digital Sisterhood Month was that Digital Sisterhood is more than a weekly or month-long celebration. It is a movement that has a life of its own.  It is living and breathing on and offline.

Heather Whaling, Sloane Berrent & Ananda

Did you know Digital Sisterhood traveled with me when I left Washington, DC and landed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on February 25?   I had no idea she packed herself in my luggage with plans for developing digital sisterhood bonds with 11 amazing women I met through the Heart of Haiti campaign.  See the list of digital sisters below.  Click here to see more photos of the Heart of Haiti‘s Digital Sisterhood.

Heart of Haiti Digital Sisters

  • Sloane Berrent, Humanitarian, Kiva Fellow, and Founder of The Causemopolitan,
  • Laura Ciocia, Senior Digital Strategist at Everywhere,
  • Pascale Faubas, Jacmel Director, Fairwinds Trading
  • Deana Jirak, Designer and Photographer,
  • Danica Kombol, Managing and Founding Partner at Everywhere,
  • Johnica Reed, Travel Tastemaker, Writer, and Founder of leisureStrategy,
  • Willa Shalit, Artist, Author, Co-Founder of V-Day, CEO of Fairwinds Trading, and Founder of Touch Foundation,
  • Nathalie Tancrede, co-founder of Fondation d’Ayiti Soleil, a Haitian organization that helps educate Haitian girls and women, and the Haiti Country Director for Fairwinds Trading
  • Juliana Um, Creative Director, Fairwinds Trading
  • Heather Whaling, PR/Social Media Expert and President of Geben Communication.
Laura Ciocia, Deana Jirak, Sloane Berrent & Ananda
Johnica Reed, Ananda & Danica Kombol

I learned so much about these ladies in four days. We talked about many issues as we toured Port-au-Prince.  Stories, insights, reflections, and lessons learned danced in and out of our daily adventures.  Laughter, silent pauses, a reflection and prayer circle, yoga before sunrise, Reiki healing touch sessions, blogging and tweeting in the hotel restaurant, filming video interviews, taking photos everyplace we stopped, late night girl weekend conversations, dancing and eating plantains at Jacmel’s Carnival, and chit chatting at the cafe in Toussaint Louverture International Airport are just a few of the ways Digital Sisterhood created bonds between me and these women.

It’s hard for me to fully describe the Digital Sisterhood bond that happened in Haiti.   I guess I am still basking in the beauty and blessing of connecting with 11 dynamic women.   So I will leave you with two of my favorite Kreyol words and video interviews of Willa Shalit and Heather Whaling.  The Heart of Haiti Digital Sisterhood is “belle bagay” (a Kreyol word that means fabulous)!

Ananda’s First Carnival Experience in Jacmel, Haiti

Ananda wearing a butterfly mask at the Jacmel Carnival in Haiti

My first carnival experience happened during my Heart of Haiti trip on February 27 in Jacmel, Haiti. It was “belle bagay” (a Kreyol word that means fabulous, fantastic, it was cool etc.).  The papermache artwork and masks, music, food, and lively crowds of people filled with “joie de vivre” (joy of living) made it a special experience.  Watch my videos and see photos below. Click here to see all of my photos from the Jacmel Carnival.


Jacmel Carnival life size masks
Jacmel Carnival Celebration
Jacmel Carnival Celebration
Carnival Mask

Happy March! Watch Ananda’s Video from Her Heart of Haiti Trip to Jacmel, Haiti on 2/27.

Ananda at Jacmel Carnival in Haiti, February 27, 2011

Happy March All!

I hope your first day of March is filled with many blessings.  Mine has been filled with the blessing of memories from my recent trip to Haiti as a blogger ambassador for the Heart of Haiti campaign. The Heart of Haiti campaign is a partnership between Fairwinds Trading, Macy’s, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

As many of you may know, I was in Haiti with a dynamic group of nine digital sisters and one digital brother from February 25-28.  My trip was sponsored by Everywhere, a social media company that represents Macy’s. The trip allowed me to visit Port-au-Prince, Croix des Bouquets, and Jacmel.  So many wonderful things happened.  That’s why I am going to take my time in posting photos, videos, and audio blogs about my travel experiences this week and next week.  I thought you might like to watch a video of me sharing what I learned from being in Haiti.  See below. It was filmed on February 28 in  Jacmel, Haiti.  For more updates on the Heart of Haiti trip, click here. Enjoy!