By Alex Robinson
Four years after an earthquake devastated Haiti and killed more than 100,000 people, Patricia Brintle is still hard at work rebuilding her homeland.
The Whitestone artist’s nonprofit From Here to Haiti is hosting its third annual art show Jan. 18-19 to raise money to fund the reconstruction of schools, orphanages and churches.
The nonprofit was founded in 2010 in the earthquake’s aftermath and its members have traveled to Haiti multiple times a year to help reconstruct buildings in rural parts of the country. Brintle said these areas are still in dire need of help, as most of the recovery money has been spent in the main urban centers.
“Haiti has struggled so much. This is a country that for some reason has never been able to get a footing. I don’t want to give up on it,” said Brintle, who left Haiti in 1964 when she was 17.
Some half a dozen volunteers have gone on each trip in past years.
“The volunteers who come over realize how blessed they are and how we really take things for granted,” she said. “Unless you live the experience, you don’t really know for sure how lucky we are.”
Brintle said she finds the projects the nonprofit works on through letters that are sent to her from Haitians in need. Once they choose a project, the nonprofit will raise the necessary funding and then employ locals to help them do the building once they are there.
“It’s important that the whole community gets involved. We help them provide for their families like that — $25 pays the salary of one worker and feeds their family for a couple months.”
From Here to Haiti’s next trip will be in February, when the nonprofit will be rebuilding the roof of a church and building a new sanitary block for a school in two communities. It costs the nonprofit, which has repaired 12 buildings since its founding, $15,000 to rebuild a roof and $5,000 to build new sanitary blocks.
“In American money, it’s not very much, but it does so much over there,” Brintle said.
Work on the projects typically only takes a week as the nonprofit usually hires 60 to 70 locals to do the bulk of the repairs.
Proceeds from the art show will help fund these projects. The show will feature more than 75 Haitian and international artists’ work and will take place at 14-46 Utopia Pkwy. from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. both days.
From Here to Haiti has also facilitated sending items over to Haitian parishes such as church pews, statues, used clothing and balls for children to play with.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.