Haiti My Country: Poems by Haitian Schoolchildren

For several months, Quebec illustrator Roge prepared a series of portraits of Haitian children. Students of Camp Perrin wrote that accompanying poems, which create, with flowing consistency, Haiti My Country. These teenaged poets use the Haitian landscape as their easel. The nature that envelops them is quite clearly their main subject. While misery often storms through Haiti in the form of earthquakes, cyclones, or floods, these young men and women see their surrounding nature as assurance for a joyful, confident future.

Serafina’s Promise

In a poor village outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Serafina works hard to help her family, but dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor–then the earthquake hits and Serafina must summon all her courage to find her father and still get medicine for her sick baby brother as she promised.

Aftershock

Makis and his moher Sofia escape a devastating Greek earthquake which has claimed his father’s life. North London is a ver different place – but Makis quickly wins a covetted place in the school football team. Unlike her son, Sofia, isolated by her grief and lack of English, sinks into depression. Makis has a brilliant idea to help her – using books from school he begins to teach her to read. But competing loyalites mean that sooner or later, something has to give and his hard-won reputation at school appears to be in ruins.

Eight Days

In Edwidge’s story, Junior is trapped under his pancaked house for 8 whole days. After he is saved, people ask him repeatedly: “What did you do all this time? Were you scared? Did you cry?””I played,” he answers. And so with each page, we see how he played in his mind every day he was trapped–how he played marbles with his friends, won the best solo part in the choir, biked through St. Marc with his little sister, and ate the sweetest mango.Hope, love, and warmth dance across each page, reminding us that sometimes it is the simplest beauties that help us find our strength.Niki, the real boy whom this story is loosely based on, was pulled from the rubble after being trapped for 8 days. He was rescued by New York Task Force 1, a search-and-rescue team made up of New York City police- and firemen. They had to cut through three slabs of concrete and countless other pieces of debris before his mother could crawl in to coax Niki and his sister out. When he finally made it out of the wreckage, Niki did so with a beaming smile and wide-open arms–the image of hope.** The photograph taken of Niki by Mathew McDermott as they pulled him from the wreckage is being called “the iconic image” of this disaster. We are embracing its visibililty by using an illustration echoing the photograph for the cover of the book and printing the photograph in the back matter.** In addition, this project is charity driven. Both Edwidge and Alix are donating a portion of their advances to Haitian aid organizations. Scholastic and their vendors are contributing portions of their costs for the production of this book.