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a366: Benefit for Haiti sets sail

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Miami Herald

Published Sunday, January 13, 2002

Benefit for Haiti sets sail
Poet Angelou helps support medical project

As Maya Angelou looked out over the crowd, the silence
was deafening.

It was lunchtime in the grand ballroom of the giant
cruise ship Explorer of the Seas, but the clinks and
chinks of forks hitting plates quietly stopped.

And then the well-known writer began to celebrate
humanity in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

``We are all composers,'' Angelou said. ``It takes
courage to be a composer because what you really do,
you compose not your own lives, but the community.''

Many of the 300 guests at the Saturday fundraiser for
Project Medishare nodded in agreement. Each donated
$100 to support ``A Day of Hope for Haiti.'' The
$40,000 raised through the luncheon and two auctions
will go toward medical supplies, training and
construction of hospitals and clinics in Haiti.

Dr. Barth Green, along with another doctor, created
Project Medishare six years ago. Green is chairman of
the Department of Neurological Surgery at the
University of Miami and chief of neurosurgery for
Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Angelou was a big draw for the Miami event, held on
the newest ship owned by Royal Caribbean
International. Angelou and Green became friends after
Green operated on Angelou's son, author Guy Johnson.

Green says the Medishare project is dear to his heart.

Haiti ``has the highest infant mortality rate in the
world and no access to healthcare,'' Green said. ``Our
goal is to help the Haitian physician reestablish the
infrastructure that was there at one point.''

The program hits home for Jacqueline Clerville, a UM
nurse who lives in Pembroke Pines. Clerville, born in
Haiti, plans to go on Green's next medical trip in
April. She bought a bright Haitian landscape painting
at the event's silent auction.

``There is so much they do for Haiti,'' Clerville
said. ``It makes me feel wonderful.''

Green thought Angelou the perfect speaker for the
fundraiser, and the crowd apparently agreed. Many
mothers and daughters came armed with Angelou's books,
hoping for a special autograph.

``There are very few evil people in the world,'' she
said in her speech. ``There are a lot of lazy people,
cowardly folk, a lot of really greedy people. But
really evil? No.

``I would remind us of how grand we are. How
spectacular we are. . . . Suppose we really dared to
be half, no, a fourth of what we really are?''

Angelou rounded out her speech with a few lines from
her poem Still I Rise. The crowd thanked her with a
standing ovation.

Lissa Smith, 10, of Miami, attended the event with her
mother, Joan. She was surprised to learn that a
schoolbook lesson could visit her hometown.

``I had to do a report on Maya Angelou so I had to
read a book about her,'' Lissa said. ``I never knew
she was still alive.''

Before the lunch, the Smiths walked about the main
auction room, inspecting paintings and jewelry
designed by famous Haitian artists. One of the
artists, Philippe Dodard, is the brother of Dr. Michel
Dodard, with Project Medishare. Dodard donated several
paintings and pieces of jewelry to the auction.

``I believe it's a very smart project,'' Philippe
Dodard said. ``Medishare is constructing something
long-term. It's a project of education.''

The project exemplifies a very basic principle,
Angelou said. ``Dr. Green's gestures of kindness will
benefit somebody in Bosnia, in Birmingham, Alabama.
I'm convinced that a kind gesture anywhere heals a
broken heart somewhere.''

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