Two Years On: Remembering Haiti

Haiti's Presidential palace still lies in ruins

IT was two years ago that a catastrophic magnitude seven earthquake hit Haiti, killing over a quarter of a million people, and making at least one million people homeless.

It is for this reason that MOBO award-winning singer Folasade Phillip has created the charity album, All For One. Releasing the album to mark the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake, Phillip explained the profound affect that the disaster had on her life.

“What caught my attention was when I saw a little baby being pulled out of the rubble after the earthquake,” says the British songstress. “It was the first time that I felt really bound to do something.”

Having no family ties to the Caribbean island, Phillip did not know where to start in her mission to help the people in Haiti. But research soon brought her attention to United Haitians in the United Kingdom (UHUK), a charity that has been helping underprivileged children in Haiti since 2008.

“It took me about eight months to come up with the idea,” she recalls. “During that time I wanted to make sure that I was in alliance with a Haitian charity, because I am just an individual.”

“I met with the chairwoman of UHUK, Carole Attis, in a flat in Stockwell, south London. I was sitting at the table and there was a really happy baby, about eight months old sitting on the floor. I told Carol why I wanted to get involved with the charity and start my own initiatives to help support people. When I finished she said, ‘Don’t you know who that baby is? That’s Landina, the baby that you saw on TV.’”

She continued “It just hit me like a ton of bricks; I took it as a sign. I saw this baby but I didn’t notice that the baby had a cap on its head and one arm missing, yet she was so happy and full of life.”

Folasade Phillip is releasing a charity album in aid of the victims

Makind a difference: Folasade Phillips

Music being her first love, Phillip was inspired to write a song about Haiti. With no plan to release the track, the singer realised that her music could also help contribute to the cause, but she admitted that she has a lot more work to do.

“I have to be honest, it’s really short term thinking at the moment. All I want to do is raise money and all I know in terms of business is how to fall back on the skills I have.”

Phillip has been able to garner a wide range of support from over 20 musicians, including Cleveland Watkiss and Kele Le Roc, who feature on the album. The backing she’s received is an amazing feat in itself, considering the claims of corruption and misappropriated donations surrounding Haiti, which have led to charitable fatigue from many people around the world. But despite the apathy of many, Phillip remains positive and believes that if everybody works together, it can make a difference.

“You have a choice: either you do something or you do nothing. How do you find out what is legitimate or not? You just hope that what you raise is going to go to the right place.”

She added: “That is why I wanted to choose a grass roots organisation that works directly in the afflicted areas. They are not a multi-million dollar organisation; they are a group of Haitians in England who want to see the people back in Haiti do better.”