A Haitian native presents a collection of poems and reflections featuring that Caribbean nation in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake in this new book released by Dog Ear Publishing.
When the Rev. Franck Aguilh first set foot on his native Haiti after more than four decades away, he couldn’t believe the devastation left by a 35-second earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. “It was only when I got there that I realized the extent of the destruction and despair that no camera lens could capture,” he writes in the introduction to this new collection of reflections and poems. The writings reflect Aguilh’s feelings on returning to the Caribbean nation rich in history and the devastation he found, as well as the beauty of the country and the resilience of its people.
Aguilh concentrates his relief efforts on Mizak, a mountainous rural community some 50 miles south of Port-au-Prince with about 35,000 people, about 70 percent of whom live on less than $1 a day, he notes. Mizak has no hospital, doctor, running water or electricity. Drawn to Mizak’s plight, Aguilh ministers there through Haiti Hope House Inc., a nonprofit organization he created that helps educate Haitian children and teaches young adults marketable skills.
In “Haiti, Cries from the Heart: Lamentations of a Son,” 22 poems and five reflections soulfully expresses an emotional response to the earthquake and its lasting effects. In “Goudou, Goudou,” Aguilh writes of the unbelievable violence of that event: “Thirty-five seconds of living hell, it is all that it took for thousands of lives to be snuffed out, for thousands of heads to have no place to rest, for thousands of limbs to be lost, crushed under a mountain of sand and cinder blocks.” In “Hard to Believe” he reflects on the slowness of rebuilding even two years later: “Because it looks and smells like yesterday. Road that were ripped open remain unrepaired, tent cities and port-a-johns still litter Port-au-Prince.”
Other selections celebrate hard-working Haitian women, the first day of school, the country’s beauty, market day in Mizak, an ode to Haiti’s history as the first black independent nation and the author’s hopes that Haiti can capture its own beauty in rebuilding. Photos Aguilh took of destroyed building and overcrowded, shabby tent cities – as well as young people playing games and people coping as best they can –add another dimension to this unforgettable work.
Author Franck Aguilh, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, served as assistant and senior pastor at churches in central New Jersey. He retired from the pulpit after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to focus his efforts on helping the country, creating the nonprofit organization Haiti Hope House Inc. Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to that organization. Aguilh, who came to the United States in 1966, worked as a systems and telecommunications engineer and a project manager at such companies as Lucent Technologies and AT&T. He earned his master of divinity degree magna cum laude from Drew University.
Haiti, Cries from the Heart: Lamentations of a Son
ISBN: 978-1-4575-1616-0 84 pages $25.99 US
Available at Ingram, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.
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