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Haitian film exposes deeper issues

Alan Hernandez, Ashley Contreras and Angie Anderson helped assemble hygiene kits in the Campus Center Ballroom on Monday as a part of the Haiti Earthquake Relief Benefit. The towels, soap, toothbrushes, bandages and nail clippers were donated from the University of La Verne, the Church of the Brethren and several local businesses. After assembling the kits the participants watched a film by documentarian Renee Bergan based on the lives of five Haitian women./ photo by Christopher Guzman

Alan Hernandez, Ashley Contreras and Angie Anderson helped assemble hygiene kits in the Campus Center Ballroom on Monday as a part of the Haiti Earthquake Relief Benefit. The towels, soap, toothbrushes, bandages and nail clippers were donated from the University of La Verne, the Church of the Brethren and several local businesses. After assembling the kits the participants watched a film by documentarian Renee Bergan based on the lives of five Haitian women. / photo by Christopher Guzman

Kristen Campbell
News Editor

Using viewpoints from various experiences of life in Haiti, five women told their unique stories of living in the nation’s social and economic strife during the time before the tragic earthquakes.

“Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy” is a documentary film about the struggles and daily lives of the women of Haiti.

While viewers got a profound view of Haiti, the film’s focus is on women’s suppression, worker exploitation and poverty.

The film, with co-producer and guest speaker Renée Bergan in attendance, was shown at 4 p.m. on Monday to a small group of interested students and faculty in the Campus Center.

“It’s easy for Americans to let these nations slide away once the media has stopped covering their poverty,” Bergan said. “Haiti needs our help now and they will still need it for many years to come.”

The five women featured in the documentary, Marie-Jeanne, Solange, Frisline, Thérèse and Héléne, each tell their individual story and view of their life and what their deprived nation is doing about it.

“Our workplace is dirty and poorly kept. It only looks good when a foreign inspector comes,” Marie-Jeanne said in the film.

During the course of the documentary, it is repeated that Haiti caters to the bigwigs and leaves the poor citizens to the streets.

“On one of Mark Schuller’s and my trips down to Haiti, I could see the class delineation in just how electricity was distributed,” Bergan said. “One hill would be covered in light, we [ourselves] would only have electricity at night and the opposing hill was completely black.”

Frisline said a lack of resources is not what is killing Haiti, but rather the inflated costs to purchase daily necessities. The poor people are suffering due to actions out of their control.

Bergan spoke about the filming process and said each trip got more and more difficult due to increased security and suspicions of the people around the featured women.

“This film was exceptional. I liked the structure of the documentary in showing actual Haitian people rather than a voiceover,” Hector Delgado, professor of sociology, said.

Bergan mentioned, during the question and answer portion of the presentation, all five women are still alive even after the earthquakes, but some are now living in tent cities.

Preceding the film’s screening, funded by the Wilson Library, the Haiti Relief Committee put together more than 350 hygiene kits for Haitians, each made according to specific directions given to them by the Red Cross.

Every kit included one hand towel, one washcloth, one comb, one nail clipper, one bar of soap, one toothbrush and six adhesive bandages. Toothpaste and other liquid products would be sent separately at a later date.

During the event a bake sale coordinated by senior art major Ashley Contreras was held to raise more money.

“I encourage everyone to be conscious of Haiti. Don’t ignore it because it’s not going anywhere,” Bergan said.

For more information about the film, how to donate money to trusted charities and where the donations are being used, visit potomitan.net.

Kristen Campbell can be reached at kristen.campbell@laverne.edu.

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