MIAMI, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the wake of the calamity that devastated Haiti January 12, and as a way to reaffirm St. Thomas University's commitment to Haiti's people, its faculty, staff and students are extending a special invitation to attend the Haitian Women Artisan Exhibit, which will take place tomorrow, Thursday, January 14th at 6:00 p.m. at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Art Gallery, 4949 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, Florida 33137.
St. Thomas University President, Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, expressed the University community's deepest sadness and solidarity with Haiti's brothers and sisters. "Our prayers, thoughts and spirits are with the victims of this earthquake. As people of faith we need to respond in prayer as well as in action. A way to reaffirm our best intentions to help the Haitian people is to attend our documentary's premiere tomorrow and assist in relief projects through the coffee initiative, helping women artisans and in many other ways that will be explained at our press conference Thursday, January 14."
Following a 5:30 p.m. Press Conference, the solidarity event will start at 6:00 p.m. with a Mass celebrated by Father Reginald in memory of the victims in Haiti. The art exhibit will open at 7:00 p.m. with a blessing of the art work and the screening of the Blooming Hope documentary film will follow at 7:30 p.m. "This film has captured the spirit of the Haitian people," adds Monsignor Casale. "This is a good opportunity to travel in spirit to the stunning mountains, oceans, and scenery of Haiti and be present while all of us mourn this tragedy."
Please contact STU's Chief Marketing Officer Marivi Prado at 305.205.2656 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, for additional information as well as to schedule interviews with Professor and film producer Marcela Moyano and Anthony Vinciguerra, Director of STU's Center for Justice and Peace.
ABOUT ST. THOMAS UNIVERSTY'S HAITI MISSIONS
St. Thomas University's involvement in Haiti advocacy efforts dates to the 1980s, when Archbishop Edward McCarthy visited Port-de-Paix, the country's poorest diocese. Upon assessing the people's plight, McCarthy created a "sister-diocese" relationship between the Archdiocese of Miami and the Diocese of Port-de-Paix in hopes of ameliorating the root causes of the dangerous migration of Haitians from this area to the United States. Being that St. Thomas University is the only Archdiocesan university in South Florida, many projects have followed Archbishop's McCarthy's effort to help create sustainability in Haiti.
In 2001, under St. Thomas University President's leadership, Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, a delegation from St. Thomas University traveled to the capital of Haiti for the opening of Haiti Tech, a trade school built by an alliance of South Florida business, which included The Miami Herald, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and six Haitian business associations – with well known community leaders that included American Airlines' Peter Dolara and The Children's Trust's David Lawrence. Monsignor Casale served on Governor Bush's taskforce for Haiti, and is a member of the Board of Fonkoze – a successful microfinance organization in Haiti that provides small business development loans to the poorest of the poor.
In collaboration with The Archdiocese of Miami Global Solidarity Committee (comprised of St. Thomas University, Amor en Accion and Catholic Charities of Miami) the university has been working on three long-term development projects in Port-de-Paix:
1) A Fair-Trade Artisan project with Haitian women;
2) A Solar Energy Program in Baie-de-Henne, one of the poorest, most deforested regions of the diocese and
3) A Fair-Trade Coffee Collaboration with coffee farmers from the diocese of Port-de-Paix.
The projects in Port-de-Paix help strengthen the "sister-diocese" relationship created by Archbishop McCarthy, and provide both immediate relief and long-term development to this extremely poor region. With a population of 400,000, Port-de-Paix's dry and deforested terrain aggravates the extreme poverty. Unpaved roads and a lack of bridges to cross several rivers isolate the region. More than 74% of the children in this region are malnourished and have parasites, and the people suffer from numerous diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and typhoid.
The women's artisan project is providing meaningful income to some of Haiti's most marginalized workers. The Solar Energy project protects the trees from being cut down for charcoal, and the Fair-Trade coffee project will provide income to farmers throughout the region, as well as encourage reforestation of the North West's mountains.
The South Florida premiere of the documentary BLOOMING HOPE – to air Thursday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m. following a press conference and Mass for the victims, aims at creating awareness of the country's plight and what can be done with limited resources. The film is a tribute to poor women in devastated regions who CAN and ARE DOING what seemed to be impossible. The film, produced by the Institute for Communication, Entertainment and Media of St. Thomas University under the executive production of Professor Marcela Moyano, portrays how the fair-trade coffee cooperative, the women artisan initiative and the solar energy project are planting seeds of transformation in the poorest region of Haiti. It demonstrates how an inspired group of individuals that include students and faculty can engage in successful efforts and help promote future initiatives.
SOURCE St. Thomas University