PORT-AU-PRINCE — One of the greatest obstacles in the fight against global poverty is the attention span of the world. It is, therefore, encouraging when an organization claims that “we are committed to long-term, sustainable development in direct partnership with the Haitian people.” These are the words of the Artists for Peace and Justice.
The Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis established Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) in 2009. A fundraising effort dedicated to addressing issues of peace, social justice, poverty and enfranchisement in communities around the world, the foundation focused its efforts on Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010.
The foundation sent initial funds towards emergency relief efforts, but has since adjusted scope in lieu of steady recovery. The foundation is now in the process of rebuilding 50 schools in the slums of Port-au-Prince. In addition, it is currently raising enough funds to fully sponsor three schools in support of the initiatives of Rick Frechette and his team.
Frechette and an inspired group of Haitian leaders founded the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti to provide healthcare, education and dignified humanitarian outreach to the underserved populations of Haiti. St. Luke primary schools partner with APJ secondary schools to ensure an ongoing source of education. St. Luke noted how grateful it is to APJ’s unfaltering devotion to its students.
The Artists for Peace and Justice Festival Gala was held on September 12 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Presented by BOVET 1822, the event celebrated the ongoing generosity and accomplishments of leading cultural icons. The crown jewel of the evening, the 2017 Peace and Justice Activism Award was presented to Jackson Browne. Browne boasts a lifetime of activism and commitment to peace and social justice in Haiti and the rest of the world.
There are many accomplishments of 2017 visible on the Artists for Peace and Justice website. Most significant, however, is this year’s graduating classes. In June, the Academy for Peace and Justice and the Artists Institute both held ceremonies to honor their newest graduates. Kathryn Everett, an APJ member, spoke to the sensation present at the ceremony: “it was so beautiful, and humanizing, to see the graduates with their families, so happy, full of school spirit, bursting with happiness.”
APJ is committed to sending every penny of its gala fundraiser to those in need, pledging 100 percent of funds raised to efforts in Haiti. Annalynne McCord, a well-known actor, attended an APJ Haiti Benefit. She shared her thoughts on the importance of ongoing humanitarian aid, saying, “people’s awareness is now raised, but support is needed now more than ever.” When it comes to Haiti, the public attention span doesn’t falter.
– Sophie Nunnally