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.
Makandal is now reaching out to donors to help the family of Enel Aspilaire. We know Enel as the director of Radio Nago, a community radio station that broadcasts from Central Brooklyn. In 2009 the station recognized the work of Frisner Augustin and Jaques “WaWa” Fortère. It has honored others in the community as well. In the summer of 2021 Enel was visiting his family in Fond-des-Blancs in the South Department when the earthquake of August 14 struck the southern peninsula and damaged the family’s home so badly that they are living in a tent until they can rebuild. The photo to the left shows the four family members who live in the house, including Enel’s elderly mother. Read more 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.