A Brief History of Makandal’s Artist Relief Fund, by Lois Wilcken
(Read, then tip-tap on the drums to make a donation.)
In early November 2008, I was in Haiti for a meeting of the Haitian Studies Association. After the meeting I visited the neighborhood of Master Drummer Frisner Augustin for several days. Frisner’s sister Marie Lourdes (see photo below) came to see me just before my departure and invited me to her home in nearby Martissant. We mounted a ravine recently hit hard by two tropical storms and two hurricanes. A tree, its roots protruding through the wall of the ravine, hung perilously above Marie Lourdes’s battered house. A move was urgent.
Marie Lourdes’s story inspired the creation of Makandal’s Artist Relief Fund. Makandal has continued to raise funds for both disaster relief and its twin, poverty relief, since establishing the Fund in 2008. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake and throughout Carnivals 2011 and 2012, we instructed children in drumming and dance. (See featured photo at the top of this page.) Our donors have helped keep several children in school, and they sent professional audio equipment to a deejay.
Most recently, in 2019, Makandal raised funds for a tribute to Jacques “WaWa” Fortère, a beloved musician, producer, and cultural ambassador for Haiti. Funds covered expenses for a tribute event at Brooklyn’s South Oxford Space in November and helped Mr. Fortère with medical expenses. In this effort we partnered with ten other community organizations. Sadly, we lost WaWa to the COVID-19 pandemic on April 13, 2020. See fuller details of our collective appeal and links to resources on WaWa here.
Makandal is keeping the Fund alive, particularly as events in both Haiti and the Haitian communities of the United States increasingly challenge all concerned. You may click on the button to the right to donate anytime. Thank you in advance (mèsi davans) for your tax-deductible gift. Prefer to write a check? Write payable to La Troupe Makandal, Inc., and send to the Troupe at 621 Rutland Rd Apt 4C, Brooklyn NY 11203-1716. You will receive acknowledgment in postal mail.
Credits (from the top)
Featured Image: Photo by Lois Wilcken of a children’s Carnival band on Ruelle Gabelis in Portail Léogane, 7 March 2011
Photo by Lois Wilcken of Frisner Augustin and his sister Marie Lourdes Augustin at the doorway to her home in Portail Léogane, 17 February 2012
Photo of WaWa from the front cover of his album, The Best of Rasin Kanga de WaWa, Vol. 1, 2016.