HAITI: Still in
but No Longer in the News
Marieke van Woerkom
the needs of the people of Haiti after the January earthquake
about Maslow's "Pyramid of Needs"
and discuss a blogpost from a relief worker in Haiti
more media literate and savvy
and Emotional Skills:
feelings connected to the Haitian crisis
how feelings are connected to actions
agenda on chart paper or on the board
pyramid as handout, on chart paper or on the board
"Days of Remembrance" at SOIL
Ask students to think back to what happened in Haiti in January
2010. In pairs ask students to discuss for about a minute each some of the "basic
needs" that Haitians are doing without because of the earthquake. Explain
that a "basic need" is something we as humans need to survive. After
a few minutes ask volunteers to share and chart the answers. Students may come
up with such things as food, water, shelter, safety, etc.
Agenda (1 minute)
that in today's lesson students will explore the needs of the people of Haiti
and how the media affects how we think about, feel and react to world events.
pyramid (8 minutes)
over Maslow's pyramid (below) with your students. Provide them with some background
information about Maslow: Abraham Harold Maslow was an American psychologist who
developed the "Hierarchy of (Human) Needs" model, also known as "Maslow's
Needs Pyramid" in the 1950s. According to Maslow, the needs at the foundation
of the pyramid need to be satisfied before higher needs can be achieved. People
are motivated to fulfill their basic needs as they continue to move towards personal
growth and fulfillment.
your students to look at "Maslow's Needs Pyramid" and take a few minutes
to discuss what they notice about how the pyramid is built up. Where do they think
they themselves or the people they know fit into the pyramid? What about the people
of Haiti? Where did they fit in right after the earthquake? What about today?
Media Coverage of
the Earthquake & Its Aftermath (10 minutes)
you explore the media coverage of the earthquake that struck Haiti in January
2010, ask students to think about and discuss:
they first found out about the earthquake in Haiti? (Students are likely to have
found out through the media, except maybe for some Haitian students.)
the earthquake first happened, how much media coverage did the crisis receive?
Why do your students think that is?
month after the quake, during what came to be known as the days of remembrance
in Haiti, how much media coverage did the crisis receive? Why do your students
think that is?
week, how much media coverage is the crisis receiving? Why do your students think
did your students feel about the crisis in Haiti when it had just happened? How
about during the days of remembrance a month later? How about now? Do students
think how we feel affects how we act? Do students think the media can affect this?
of the media outlets have left Haiti and only very few journalists are still reporting
on what's happening. The world has moved on!
your students think Haitians have moved on?
your students think the country has recovered?
your students think the people's lives are back to normal?
do they think the people of Haiti feel?
Read Aloud (15 minutes)
the blogpost below by Sasha Kramer. Kramer lives in Haiti and is a co-founder
of Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) a non-profit organization
dedicated to protecting soil resources, empowering communities and transforming
wastes into resources in Haiti.
the blogpost to the class, pausing perhaps to ask students to respond to what
Sasha writes by asking some or all of the following questions:
reading the blogpost, consider showing the slideshow
that shows the SOIL staff journey from Cap Haitian in the north of the country
down to Port au Prince last month and the photos that the staff has taken since
then as they've been in Port au Prince helping out with the relief efforts.
Jèn ("Days of Remembrance"): Letters from Port au Prince
by Sasha Kramer
February 12, one month after the earthquake, the first day of Jounen Jèn,
the days of mourning and remembrance, and we walked through the twisted iron and
dusty shards of glass of the shattered National Cathedral. As we crossed through
the open door and stared down the length of the cathedral it was as though the
world had ended and even the wind had disappeared into the silence of the rubble.
Just blocks away, in front of the crumbling palace, thousands of people dressed
in white were singing songs of grief and praise, but inside the National Cathedral,
on this national day of remembrance there was only the sky and the crumpled flowers
from the alter scattered across the floor where so many feet once tread.
we stepped gingerly through the cement dust, climbing towards where the alter
once stood, I remembered the last time that I walked down this aisle, through
the sunbeams and the wailing, walking to pay my last respects to Father Gerard
Jean Juste in October 2009. This place has always broken my heart. So many voices
that once sang in this church have been swallowed by the earthquake and I longed
to hear Father Gerrys voice, but I knew what he would have told me. He would
tell me that those of us who survived have to sing louder, to work harder and
to love each other more. As we left the cathedral and passed the crowd on Champ
de Mars I could hear the crowd of thousands singing their sadness into salvation.
I knew that Father Gerry was with them, under the tarp churches, marching through
the streets, watering the parks of the city with their tears.
we got home in the evening on Friday everyone at Matthew 25, where we are staying,
gathered to read aloud a prayer for Haiti. Three quarters of the way through the
prayer the tears began rolling down my cheeks. I could see the cathedral as they
carried Father Gerrys body down the aisle and the flowers buried in dust
that we had walked through earlier. I cried for hours that night for the first
time since coming to Port au Prince. Mine were only drops in the lake of tears
that flowed through Haiti this weekend as people said goodbye to their loved ones
and their lost city.
end with an excerpt from the prayer that we read on the 12th.
up your people from the ash heap of destruction and give them strong hearts and
hands, shore up their minds and spirits. Help them to bear this new burden
week with your donations we were able to provide a weeks worth of food to
over 350 families, deliver 24,000 gallons of water to 5 communities, provide medicines
to several mobile clinics, give over 4000 water sachets in churches during Jounen
jèn and purchase 140 tarps, reaching over 5,000 people in Port au Prince.
In Cap Haitien the SOL team provided food and medicines to victims of the earthquake
that have been relocated out of the capital. SOIL is still small and though we
cannot rebuild the National Cathedral, with your support we can help thousands
of families in Port au Prince to bear this new burden.
is the strength of the Haitian people that has helped me to rise from the ashes
of my own fear and sadness, today on this final day of mourning I pray that I
can treat the victims of this tragedy as they have treated me, with compassion,
respect and dignity. I am so grateful to all of you who have helped to lighten
Haitis load, this experience has helped us all to remember our humanity.
love from Port au Prince,
In microlabs (small groups of perhaps four students) ask students to discuss:
"What makes a news story?"
the cameras and journalists are not there to report on what's happening, is it
news? Is it the events that make the news, or the journalists covering the events
that make the news? Who decides what to cover? Who decides what is news?
a few volunteers to share what they learned from today's lesson.
Many journalistic codes of ethics share common principles
of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability
when it comes to gathering and disseminating information.
all of these principles as you think about how someone like Sasha reports on what's
happening in Haiti. Compare that with how an outside journalist who was in Haiti
for a few weeks only, might report on the crisis and its aftermath.
van Woerkom is an educator and trainer who works with Morningside Center. She
has helped young people and adults around the world learn skills to resolve conflict
and foster cross-cultural understanding.
welcome your thoughts and suggestions about this activity. Please email us at: