Where We Work
FilmAid’s Response to the Massive Earthquake in Haiti
On January 12, 2010 Haiti was rocked by a major earthquake that devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the surrounding area. Hundreds of thousands died and 1.5 million Haitians were displaced and relocated into tented camps around the country.
FilmAid had not operated in Haiti prior to the earthquake, but like so many international organizations and individuals, we were moved to respond. Our first project in Haiti was a partnership with Cine Institute and Oxfam to create a short film about the needs of Haitians following the earthquake. The film was presented at the United Nations on March 31, 2010, a few short months after the earthquake, to representatives from over 150 countries that have since pledged over $10 billion to the recovery of Haiti.
Shortly thereafter, FilmAid began a partnership with the IRC, and later with IOM, to create and screen films providing critical information to newly-homeless populations in the displaced person camps, supporting Haitians in surviving and coping in the aftermath of the disaster.
Issues addressed in these locally produced, original, Creole language films include disease prevention, pre-hurricane preparedness, tent safety, clean water and sanitation practices (so vital to the ongoing fight against cholera), access to food, cash for work, property rights, child protection, agricultural practices, accessing and effectively utilizing supplies and services provided by the international humanitarian agencies on the ground, and understanding the recovery progress.
We screen the films utilizing FilmAid’s ‘Mobile Cinema’ units – either inflatable screens or attached to the side of trucks – reaching the large population of people in the camps that currently have no other technology-aided means of accessing information.
With the generous support of Disney and others, FilmAid was also able to screen family movie favorites like Up and Mr. Bean, providing much needed diversion and laughter to Haitians living in the camps who were left traumatized in the wake of the earthquake.
In addition to these film programs in the displaced person camps, in the summer of 2010, FilmAid partnered with MINUSTAH (the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti) to present the World Cup live via satellite, free to the Haiti people in the soccer stadium in downtown Port-au-Prince. More than 200,000 people were able to enjoy the World Cup, alongside musical performances and movie screenings (Toy Story, Wall-E, and more).
And in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011, FilmAid worked with DAI to present the Haitian presidential debates, alongside a short film about voting, to tens of thousands of viewers in the camps.
Now that the immediate emergency of earthquake response is over, through its partnership with IOM, FilmAid continues to screen informational and educational short films in the camps, and provide production equipment to community filmmakers. Stay tuned for more as we are currently developing plans for a longer-term program in Haiti.
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“FilmAid is a unique program, it educates while entertaining, it has a dual purpose. The program is psychologically rehabilitating people.”Ethiopian Refugee, Kakuma Camp