Tag Archives: Haiti

Westporters From Haiti, Norway React To Trump

Westport is filled with all kinds of people.

We are citizens, and we are on various types of visas. A few of us are undocumented.

We are 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-generation Americans, and more. At least one of us — hey, Jacques Voris! – has had family in Westport for at least 10 generations.

We may be descendants of the Pequot tribe here — I’m not sure. If not, every one of us came from somewhere else.

We came from England, Germany and — hey, Saugatuck! — Italy. We came from Canada, Russia, Japan, India, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria.

We came from Norway. And from Haiti.

In the wake of President Trump’s comments yesterday — do I have to remind you he called Haiti and African nations “shithole” countries, and wondered aloud why we don’t have more immigrants from Norway — I reached out to Westporters from those specific places.

Stephanie Mastocciolo is a 1st-generation American. Her parents moved to the US to continue her grandfather’s work in the Caribbean music industry.

Her mother was adamant that Stephanie and her 2 younger sisters take advantage of the limitless opportunities in the US — in education, and for their careers. Her mother wanted her girls to become well-rounded, open-minded individuals here too.

Stephanie was born and raised in Larchmont, New York. She moved first to Greenwich, then to Westport. She has lived here for 6 years, and has enjoyed raising her 2 children in this community. 

She calls Trump’s comments “offensive, hurtful and very un-American.”

She acknowledges, “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Yes, it has a lot of political, social and economic problems. But many — if not all — nations do.”

Trump’s comments sadden her, “because America has come a long way to break down stereotypes and barriers that divide people. America was built on the hard work and ideas of people looking for a better way of life.

She adds, “All nations should be referred to with respect and facts, not ignorant opinions. His comments speak for themselves. They show the true colors of the President of the United States.”

Camilla Moe Røisland moved to Westport in September, with her husband (whose company is building windmills off Long Island) and 2 of her children (a 3rd — and their dog — arrived recently). She worked as a news presenter, reporter and producer for Norway’s biggest radio/TV company.

Camilla does not know if she should take Trump’s words as a compliment or not. She is proud of her country — but does not like it being singled out as a “good one” in comparison to others.

“That’s not worthy of a president. Doesn’t he know, or understand, that the US is built up by immigrants throughout history?” she asks. “America’s strength comes from diversity.”

Trump is right, Camilla says, that Norwegians are highly educated in general, and hard-working. But, she adds, “that doesn’t mean that we are better or smarter than others. We are lucky because we live in a country that gives people both opportunities and security.

“We have a good health system. We take care of everyone. And we believe that all are equal — you are worth a lot even if you are not a male, white, heterosexual and rich.”

So why did she and her family move here?

Her husband had a great work opportunity. They looked forward to a new experience.

It was challenging, sure. But Westport is beautiful, Camilla says. They’ve met “so many nice, warm and welcoming people. We love living close to New York, which is a very exciting and fun city.”

It’s also a city filled with people from all over the world. Including Norway and Haiti.

Westport is too.

And I believe that many — if not all — of my fellow Westporters are glad and proud to count Camilla and Stephanie as our neighbors.

Lynsey Addario’s Lens

A couple of days ago, the New York Times’ “Lens” blog — featuring photos, videos and back stories — featured Westport’s own Tyler Hicks.

Today the spotlight is on his former Staples classmate and current Times colleague Lynsey Addario.

Photo by Lynsey Addario/The New York Times

The MacArthur “genius grant” winner was in India when the Haiti earthquake hit.  Instead of documenting the immediate effects of that tragedy, she decided to wait a few weeks — then focus on the long-term effects, after other photographers left.

When Lynsey finally arrived in Haiti, she was surprised to find bodies still on the streets, and children still foraging for food and water.

Hoping for an uplifting scene, Lynsey found — and photographed — a woman giving birth in a tent camp.

Click here for the Times‘ take on Lynsey’s latest work — and what it means to her to create it.

Photo by Lynsey Addario/The New York Times

Haiti Collection Snag — Any Solutions?

People in Haiti still need our help. (Photo credit: AP/Jorge Cruz)

“06880” reader Wendy Newton no longer lives in Westport.  But she read a recent post about a 1-day collection of important items for Haiti, and she wanted to help.  She packed up clothes, bedding — whatever she could find — to bring here.

Bad weather delayed her trip.  Now she’s learned that the collection has been almost too successful.

The shipper quoted a figure of $5,000 for the near-containerful of goods that is warehoused, ready for Winy Cedon to take to Haiti for distribution.  That’s almost $3,000 more than the initial projected cost.

Organizers are desperate to come up with a couple of fundraising ideas — or angels to make monetary donations.  Action is needed as quickly as possible.

“06880” readers are a creative, committed bunch.  Click the “Comments” tab at the top or bottom of this post to offer suggestions — or contact Karen Hube (karen_hube@yahoo.com) directly.

Getting a container filled with goods was the hard part.  Finding funds to get them to Haiti should be easy.

Clean Out For Haiti

Westport youth organizations and a Bridgeport woman are hosting a 1-day used clothes and medicine drive in Norwalk, to benefit Haiti.

The day-long collection is this Thursday (Feb. 11), at the Builders Beyond Borders office (8 Willard Rd., Norwalk — behind CVS on US1).

Winy Cedon at work on a recent trip to Haiti.

Items most needed — languishing in many Westporters’ closets, bathrooms, basements and attics — include all types of clothing and shoes (except formal attire and heavy winter jackets), shoes, socks, new underwear, sheets, pilows, towels, work gloves, toothpaste, soap, pain relievers for children and adults, Band-Aids, feminine products, antibacterial ointment, diapers, antacids and gently used stuffed animals.

Donations — clean and in good condition — can be dropped off in bags or boxes. Westport Girl Scout Troop 50553, Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s youth confirmation classes, and other youth volunteers will  help sort and pack the items.

Bridgeporter Winy Cedon is a driving force behind the event. Long before the recent catastrophe, she helped ship needed items to her poverty-stricken native land.  She has lived in the US since age 13.  When she is not working as a nurse, she gathers clothes, first aid supplies, toys and other items — then personally delivers them each summer to remote villages.

Thursday’s collection will be shipped to Cap-Haitien.  With help from Winy’s family and friends, the donations will be trucked south to some of the neediest areas in and around Port-au-Prince, which have not yet benefited from relief organizations.

Westporters — including Kelly Frey Pollard, Regina Engler, Melissa Waters, Kim Porio, Jill McGroarty and Karen hube — are helping Winy organize this effort.  Several local businesses are assisting too, and Gault has offered a warehouse.

(A $5 to $10 contribution to cover shipping costs is suggested.  For questions, or to offer assistance, email Karen_Hube@yahoo.com)

Swim For Haiti

Most days, the Westport Family Y and Staples pools are filled with swimmers doing their own thing.  Adults doggedly do laps to keep fit; Water Rats train hard for upcoming meets.

Next Tuesday they’ll swim with even more purpose.  Three weeks after the horrific earthquake, a Staples boys and girls swim team/Y Water Rat “Swim for Haiti” event will raise money for Save the Children’s relief efforts.  The event takes place at Staples (starting at 2:30 p.m.), and the Y’s 2 pools (3:30-7:30 p.m.).

Masters swimmers are also welcome. 

Swimmers are urged to arrive early and stay late to cheer other swimmers. The Water Rats Parents’ Club will provide snacks and drinks.

In 2005, the Water Rats raised nearly $19,000 for Save the Children’s tsunami relief efforts.  Their goal this year is to earn more.  “06880” is sure they’ll do swimmingly.

(Click here for more details, including distances to be swum and solicitation sheets for pledges.)

Kids These Days

The plight of Haiti has touched everyone in Westport — young and old.

Kings Highway Elementary School students count the nearly $4,000 they collected.

Last week the Kings Highway Elementary School Caring Council — students who spearhead acts of kindness and spirit during the school year — organized a collection for the devastated land.

All week long, the youngsters collected coins in glass jars.  On Friday they gathered the donations in huge, heavy buckets, jars and cans.  In just 5 days students, staff and families raised $3,997.96.  (What — no one added an extra $2.04 to make it an even 4K?)

On Friday KHS PTA Social Action Committee chair Merideth Haas and her son Henry presented a check to Save the Children — the Westport-based relief organization.

There’s no better lesson in thinking locally, and acting globally.

Get Shot; Help Haiti

(Photo by Katherine Hooper)

Two Westport moms — Katherine Hooper and Moira Lynch — are taking a photography course at Silvermine Arts Center.

Both are very troubled by the plight of earthquake victims in Haiti.  They’re putting their photographic skills to use — by raising money for Oxfam America.

For a minimum $50 donation, the 2 women will meet you at your house, the beach — anyplace you wish.  They’ll photograph you, your family, your pets — whatever you want — and upload the shots to a Kodak Gallery album that can be viewed only by you, and whoever you give the password to.  Inexpensive prints can also be ordered.

“We’re not professionals — but we’re working on it!” Katherine says.  “We’re taking courses, and we need practice.  So help Haiti, and help us too.  Hopefully we’ll get some great shots — and you’re donating to a good cause.”

(For more information, and to schedule a session, email hoopermom@gmail.com or mois49@hotmail.com.  Be sure to ask your employer about matching your contribution.)

(Photograph by Katherine Hooper)

Cooking For Haiti

What started out as a small bake sale idea to help Haiti has rumbled — with the speed and power of an earthquake — into an enormous Westport-wide effort.  Plenty of people here are doing plenty of things to help the devastated nation — but next Saturday’s “Celebrity Cookbook Auction, Book Sale & Food Festival” could be 1 of the biggest, most important events in town all year.

Set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on January 30 at the Saugatuck Congregational Church, the festival features tons of innovative ideas:

  • Over 40 cookbook authors and food personalities have donated items for auction.  Included are signed copies of Julie & Julie from Julie Powell; food writer and cookbook author Molly O’Neill’s New York  Cookbook and Mostly True; cookbooks from Rick Moonen of Top Chef Masters; a cookbook signed by its illustrator, New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren, plus items from Mar Jennings, Ted Allen, Melissa Clark, Amanda Hesser, Gale Gad, Jeffrey Nathan, Monica Bhide, Sara Moulton, Cat Cora and others.
  • Daisy Martinez of the Food Network’s “Daisy Cooks!” will emcee.  She’ll also auction dinner for 4 with her, at Don Coqui restaurant in New Rochelle.
  • Other auction items include dinner for up to 10 in the winner’s home, prepared by Iron Chef America sous chef Lorilynn Bauer; a $250 gift certificate to the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, and a family portrait sitting by Westport photographer David Land.
  • Popular local musicians Jon-Paul Ruggieri and Lisa Heile will entertain.
  • The United Haitian-American Society will staff an information table, and provide children’s activities.
  • Children’s books (all from Scholastic Press) and t-shirts will be on sale.
  • And — remember, this started as a bake sale — there will be lots of tasty treats, with tastings from Golden Krust Bakery, TK Haitian Restaurant, and Caribbean oyster shooters from Westport Aquaculture.

100% of the proceeds will go to the United Nations World Food Programme Fund for Haiti.

The event is hosted by Westport food writer, cookbook author and chef Ramin Ganeshram, along with the church and Saugatuck Nursery School — whose parents, led by director Ellen DeHuff, are working tirelessly to bring it to fruition.

(For more information or to volunteer, call 203-349-8647, or email info@food4Haiti.org)