by Amy Watts and Manuel Padilla, Haiti program coordinators
As part of the kick-off for promoting our new film on Haiti and the work of Pax Christi Port-au-Prince, Cite Soleil: Sun, Dust, and Hope, we were graciously invited by Pax Christi Michigan members Kim Redigan and Therese Terns for back to back days of presentations and showings of the film in November.
On Sunday, Nov. 20th, about 30 Pax Christi members and area peace and justice advocates gathered at St. Joseph’s Parish Center in Dearborn. We were very encouraged by the dedication of these workshop participants just days before Thanksgiving and occurring at the same time as the SOA events at Fort Benning. Bishop Gumbleton also surprised us with a visit and opened the gathering with a prayer for Haiti! We shared a bit about the background of Cite Soleil where Pax Christi’s work is being done and about how history, economy, stigma, and violence often work together to create seemingly impossible situations of intractable conflict and oppression. We then showed the 20 minute film to an audience for the first time and were excited to experience the enthusiasm it was received with. The peace education work PC Port-au-Prince is committed to inspired some of the audience to reflect on some of the parallels in inner city Detroit and how the program in Haiti could impact a response to local initiatives by the peace community there. At the end, we even received a few more invitations by other parishes in the area to plan future events for next year. This is exactly the kind of community building we were hoping for on our first in person outreach trip with the film! Afterwards, some of those at the event were kind enough to take us out to dinner and encouraged us and Pax Christi USA in our collaboration with Pax Christi Port-au-Prince. Thank you Pax Christi Michigan!
On Monday Nov. 21st, we spent the day at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School where Kim Redigan teaches. We served as guest speakers in 2 of her classes where we showed the film and took questions from the kids about the Haiti program and our experiences there. After school, the Just Peace club hosted us for their coffeehouse event. For two hours we spoke to the club about the intersection of sweatshop labor, human trafficking, economic systems, violence, and how these have, historically, found deep roots in Cite Soleil. This helped us to put into greater context, for the youth, the challenges of the PC Port-au-Prince peace education program. We sat and brainstormed ways for Just Peace in Detroit to connect with the kids in the SAKALA program. Several good ideas were generated and we will be following up with Just Peace to put these ideas into action! We saw, upon our arrival, that solidarity jerseys, matching those that the SAKALA soccer teams wear, had already been made by the Just Peace group and they wore them to this coffeehouse workshop for us.
We hope you have already gotten your copy of Cite Soleil: Sun, Dust, and Hope! If you are planning an event to show the film or would like to sponsor us to come show the film and speak to your group (parish, community, school, or other) please contact us at: Manuel@paxchristiusa.org or Amy@paxchristiusa.org.