We are here in shock at what is happening in Haiti and praying for the people of this small island. When I visited Haiti in January 2008, I spent some time meeting some of the cultural leaders. I had heard of an arts center called FOKAL
(Knowledge and Freedom Foundation), so I sent an email to the then Director, Michele Pierre-Louis- who went on to become the country's Prime Minister- and she agreed to see me the next day.
Michele spent a couple of hours showing me around the amazing facilities of this virtually brand new center. She had received multi-million dollar funding from George Soros and his Open Society Institute
for this place, which included a full theater, library, atrium, outdoor workshop space, and audio production studio.
Michele was confident that this center- the only one of its kind in Haiti- could be a force in helping to develop democratic values in the country through its many programs involving youth, women and country folk, and with its focus on exchange, debate and collaboration. It was for her a beacon of hope for the future for a country so long entrenched in poverty and fighting.
Her work there and her political connections landed her the job of Prime Minister a few months after I visited. I do not know who took over the center. All I know is that the building stuck out of the neighborhood like a sore thumb... and I am praying that it is still standing, for all that it is and all that it represents.