For Kathy McAllister, the earthquake in Haiti isn’t a news story that’s faded. It takes shape every time she sees her husband—a Haitian who was stuck in a building that collapsed, the sole survivor pulled from the rubble. Or when she hears from her sister-in-law, caught in a world that “has been turned upside down, with no end in sight.” It’s tales of tent cities and a collapsed government, of people living outside their homes for fear of an aftershock.
But it’s also the stories of spirit and hope in the face of extreme adversity: a young boy pulled from the rubble on his birthday, and the raucous block party thrown in his honor. “I don’t want to focus on the doom and gloom,” says McAllister, a former Peace Corps volunteer. “But the need is so great, and the day-to-day hasn’t improved.”
McAllister will return to Haiti in May—she left just days before the quake—to help build latrines and dig wells, but in the meantime, she’s organized a multi-media benefit tonight and tomorrow at the Photographic Center NW to raise awareness and celebrate the arts and culture of the country.
An exhibit of cut-metal sculptures, photographs, Haitian paintings, and beaded drapo vodou (ceremonial flags) opens at 2pm today, and will stay open through 8pm Saturday. The art will sold by silent auction, with proceeds going to Haiti-Partners in Health, micro-credit program Fonkoze, and the Haitian Sustainable Development Foundation, cocreated by McAllister.
Also tonight at 7: an informal lecture on Haitian art and vodou (Haiti’s traditional religion) by Anneke Wambaugh.
Tomorrow from 6-9pm: a celebration with food, wine, and Haitian music. Silent auction closes at 8pm.