Yesterday was “World Water Day”. People around the world highlighted the need for – and the joy of having clean and abundant water. Several times during the day, I thought of the water that surrounds me – from my faucets in home and yard, in all the conveniences in the cities of America, and in the verdant fields that grow our food.
I thought of the extravagance of water that we enjoy in the United States – enough to fill swimming pools and man-made lakes, and water parks. We have so much water, we have turned deserts into the greenest of cities.
And water spills and splashes in the fountains found everywhere in the city that I love so much.
Yesterday, I also thought a lot about my friend, Gérald Pierre. Gérald is a young man, a Creole, who was born and raised in Haiti. I thought about the people of Haiti who long for clean and abundant water.
Gérald is energetic and joyful and creative – he speaks three languages fluently, he paints, dances, and he photographs the world around him. He is eminently stylish and highly polished, every day. He has a finely honed sense of humor, and a deep joy at his center. He has an international set of friends - they are all at home, anywhere in the world. They embrace their responsibility for creating the future.
And while there are lots of people in Santa Barbara who come from other countries, who have several – or many – talents, who are interesting and colorful - not all possess the passion and vision that Gérald has.
Before meeting Gérald Pierre, I knew little of Haiti. Lately, I have learned a bit more about his tropical and beautiful country. Haiti's people are strong, independent, and vibrant. They are full of strength and determination.
They have a proud and rich history. Haiti is the oldest black republic in the world - a country formed by slaves who rebelled and expelled the colonial French government. They are also the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Despite bone-crushing poverty, disease, malnutrition and other difficulties, the future of this island country will be assured - because young Haitians - like Gérald - will accept nothing less.
Gérald, and others like him, move toward the future with energy and confidence. Through their creativity, they will engage the world - and they will change it.
I know this is true of Gérald: he has a mission. In every picture he paints, through every step of every dance, and through his photographs, he comes one step closer to his dream.
Gérald plans to share the spirit of his home country and of Haiti's people - through his photographs. He will use his artist's eye, combined with his technical expertise (he is a graduate of Brook's Institue of Photography), to show the world the glowing beauty and difficult plight of his beloved Haiti - he will contrast what is - with what could be.
Gérald is a goodwill ambassador who will not be restricted by borders. And while there are many who shout about what is wrong with the world - Gérald and others move forward and do what is right. And they inspire the rest of us to do what is right, too.
And so, for those of us who have plenty of water, and food, education and medicine, beauty and ease – let us remember those around the world who do not. Let us remember the millions who long, every day, for a clean cup of water.
So now, you have been introduced to Monsieur Gérald Pierre. We will watch him help to change the world through beauty.
Thanks. Merci. Mèsi.
Visit Gerald's website, here: Gérald Pierre
Direct Relief International has information about how we can help bring comfort and relief to the people of Haiti. Direct Relief International is a well-known non-profit organization, based in Santa Barbara. They work to bring health care and medical supplies to those in dire need – all over the world. In 2008, Forbes Magazine rated Direct Relief International as 100% efficient in fundraising. Their policy of transparancy and total accountability make them one of the most respected charities in the world. If you would like to learn more about Direct Relief International, or to see how you can help the citizens of Haiti, and many other parts of the world, click here: Direct Relief International