The 1,000 Clean Sheets Project for Haiti. My Appeal.
“There are bodies everywhere,” Gary Tuchman, the CNN reporter said 2 evenings ago, as he walked through an anonymous Port Au Prince Street. Holding the camera as Tuchman looked directly into it was his CNN colleague who peered constantly into his lens even as he looked back over his shoulders to the ground to avoid stepping on the dead . “Some of the bodies” Tuchman continued, “are covered with sheets, Haitians are putting these sheets over the dead as a mark of respect.”
Those words struck me.
How in the midst of immediate and devastating despair, the emotionally shell-shocked and the physically hurt would care enough to find sheets to cover those who had not made it. It was from here the 1,000 Clean Sheets for Haiti was formed.
Like you, from the moment I heard about Haiti’s devastation from the earthquake, I wanted to do something. There were many wonderful humanitarian efforts already underway. My friend, Laura Asbjornsen, at Caribbean Airlines started a relief fund after learning from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that cash donations would have the most impact in the short term. Is There Not A Cause, an NGO, started a food drive, banks set up accounts and the Chamber of Commerce announced plans to help. But I wanted to do something more hands on and personal, maybe it was because it would curb the sense of hopelessness I felt, but this was the first time ever that I cursed having a business and being obligated to people other than myself. I was in pain and wanted to do something, short of flying to Haiti.
I am certain of what it was that touched me. Haiti is my neighbour. There are people there who look just like me. I felt an impotent rage for what had been done and not done for the country. And guilt that my concern of the moment was whether Beyonce’s concert was worth my money. The thousands of crushed structures with the human limbs peeking out from them riveted me. And when I saw a 15 day old baby being tended to by two volunteers who gingerly wrapped gauze around his head, I wept and wept uncontrollably.
Yes, I called a hotline and gave money. But I also found something more hands on that I could do.
Today, Mango Media Caribbean will begin its 1000 Clean Sheets Project for Haiti. Inspired by the resilience of the Haitian and Trucman’s simple words about sheets, my staff and I have been gathering boxes from the supermarkets, sticking photos from the newspapers onto them and calling around and asking if we can place our boxes in different offices. All we want are 1,000 clean sheets. Sheets are something most of us have tucked away in our cupboards, some of which we don’t and won’t ever use. And they are inexpensive enough to purchase, brand new.
All we ask is that they be clean and you make the effort to drop them off at our office building at 55 Dundonald Street Office, a gray colonial building whose entrance is on Dere Street. You can call 627-2023 for directions and any other information. You can start your own drive, decorate your own box, we can pick them up wherever you are located. We will also be making calls and asking for pledges of cotton sheets or blankets.
I hope you can help because if history serves me correct, what I know for sure is that Haiti will no longer be headline news in a couple of weeks.
Let one paparazzi discover Tiger Woods whereabouts and we know what will drive the news of the day.
We have two weeks to do this, and your simple gift of sheets may ease your sense of hopelessness and make some kind of difference, albeit small, to those whose bodies will have to be buried in mass graves and to those who will be forced to sleep, anywhere they can find the space, outdoors.