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L.A. Wave: L.A. relief effort spans across city

January 22, 2010
In The News

By OLU ALEMORU, Staff Writer

Story Published: Jan 20, 2010 at 3:55 PM PST

As millions more dollars are set to be raised at Friday's Live Aid style cross-continental "Hope For Haiti" telethon, it will cap a week of global relief efforts that still seem infinitesimal considering the scale of the unfolding catastrophe.

The simulcast of the two-hour fundraiser (airing at 5 p.m.), which will run on all major networks, HBO and music-themed channels and online social networking sites like YouTube and Hulu, is set to be hosted by George Clooney in Hollywood and Wyclef Jean in New York.

Other artists announced for L.A. include Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder, while the ex-Fugees star will be joined by Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Mary J. Blige.

Rock group Coldplay, U2's Bono and The Edge are due to join Rihanna and Jay-Z in London.

In the week since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake shattered the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, officials revealed they have buried 70,000 bodies, about a third of the estimated final toll.

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that at least 72,000 bodies had been recovered, a figure that did not include the unknown number of bodies buried by families or collected by the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the city.

On Sunday, the larger Haitian L.A. community, supporters and well-wishers, clergy, city and state political leaders and the local media, packed into the Full Gospel Apostolic Church of God/La Mission Chretienne D'Haiti, located at 4749 W. Adams Blvd., for an emergency meeting hosted by Rep. Maxine Waters.

Joining Waters in a group called The Coalition in Solidarity with Haiti were 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry, the 8th district's Bernard Parks, 48th District Assemblyman Mike Davis, First Lady of Fame Church Denise Hunter, civil rights leader Eddie Jones and academic and political activist Dr. Ron "Maulana" Karenga.

"On behalf of the Haitian community, I had tears in my eyes the whole week seeing all that has been shown in my country," said Pastor Jene Renau Gilliune. "But thank God for the great and generous American people, who are always standing with other people in their distress. We really love and appreciate you."

Addressing the crowd, Perry said that she and her colleagues shared their "shock, grief and sadness," pledging to do all they can to raise money and help people put their lives together again.

In a stirring testimony Karenga encapsulated the sense of loss and offered prayers for the future.

"We embrace you lovingly as brothers and sisters, share the suffering and sense of loss and stand in steadfast solidarity with you as you move toward burying your dead," he offered.

Karenga continued: "Let us say blessed are those who are gone, but those that remain … may the joy they brought, the love they shared and the good they left last forever.
"Together we shall overcome in triumph and build the good and the justice sustainable in Haiti we all want and deserve. One day we will all be able to visit and together build a new Haiti."

A longtime friend and supporter of the nation, Waters was greeted rapturously and frequently interrupted by applause and cheering when she took the podium to speak.

"I love Haiti, the Haitian people and I stand in solidarity, not just now, yesterday, tomorrow and forever," she said.

"It was just in 2008 when four Hurricanes visited Haiti in three weeks and we've been working clean up and organize and then we have this huge earthquake where so many people lost their lives.

"I had to ask myself why and challenge my faith. But then I had to remember who the Haitian people are, remember the strength of the Haitian people. This is the people of Toussaint L'Ouveture, who beat the French."

Elsewhere in the city, a well-known Haitian restaurant, TiGeorges' Chicken on Glendale Boulevard, in Echo Park, became a focal point for expats and collected $15,000 within three days.

"People have also donated medical/hygiene supplies and emergency kits," said restaurant owner George LaGuerre. "Hopefully, we will raise more. The money and supplies have been donated to [Wyclef's] Yele Haiti Foundation."

Back over in South L.A., comedian Mark Curry will be hosting a "Comics 4 Haiti" benefit Jan. 31 at the J Spot Comedy Club, 5581 W. Manchester Ave.

According to the club, patrons will be encouraged to "pay what you can," with all the proceeds from ticket sales and refreshments going to the international humanitarian aid group, Doctors Without Borders.

Meanwhile, Inglewood Area Association President Pastor Austin Williams, of True Vine Baptist Church, will be using the ministry's location at 1437 W. Centinela Ave. as a drop-off point for donations and goods.

"As president of the association we felt we could at least get all the churches involved," he said. "We sent out an e-mail blast and will also be asking our members for any other ideas they may have."