Sunday, May 18, 2014

Collaborative Peace Poem by Michelle Karshan and others

Peace Poem by Michelle Karshan (collaborative poem – send in your suggestions for additional “peace” or “piece” phrases. Thank you so far to Caitlin Karshan, Alain Charles, Hilary Bieber and OneLove for their contributions) posted in 2008. Revised 2014

Collaborative Peace Poem 
Michelle Karshan
 and others

Peace march
Peace God
Peace pipe
Peace up in here! (Hilary Bieber)
A piece of the pie
Nobel Peace Prize
Department of Peace
International Day of Peace
Imagine Peace Tower
Teaching Peace
Planting Peace
Increase the Peace
Peace Broker
Peace Protest
Rest in Peace
The Mideast Peace Talks
The Paris Peace Talks
Peace and Tolerance (OneLove)
Parents for Peace
Veterans for Peace
Pathways to Peace
Peace on Earth Goodwill to Men
Peace, love and hair grease! (Caitlin Karshan)
World peace
Pray for Peace
The Peace Museum
The Mideast Peace Talks, again!
United Nations Peacekeeping?
Piece of shit
Piece of the action
Piece of ass
A piece of the rock
A piece of rock
Piece of advice
Peace of mind
Piece of work!
Fighting for peace?
Blessed are the Peacemakers
Build Peace
Peace Corps
Peace and Reconciliation
The Mideast Peace Talks, still!
Witness for peace
Peace Brigades
Peace Games
World Peace Day
Peace Talks
Peace Treaty
A piece of paper
Waging peace
Inner peace
Peace symbols
Peace dove
Love and peace
Peace and hugs (Hilary Bieber)
Peace sign
Peace through art
The art of peace
Peace of chalk (Alain Charles)
The Peaceable Kingdom
Animals for Peace (Hilary Bieber)
Peace and art (Hilary Bieber)
Peace, love and happiness
Hand me that piece (Alain Charles)
Make peace
Peace Education
War and Peace (Hilary Bieber)
Peace and Justice
No peace, no justice!
Grandmothers for peace
Pastors for peace
Peace protestor
All we are saying is give peace a chance
Peace – pay it forward! (Hilary Bieber)
Down the road a piece
Peace and solitude
A piece of my heart
Peace and quiet
Piece of cake
Pieces of a puzzle
Piece meal


Peace is cool (Hilary Bieber)

Peace be with you (Hilary Bieber)

Peace Now!

Peace out!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Brooklyn Sudanese feast for Aleya (home from college) by Abdul and Gafar

Food Sudani!  

A Brooklyn Sudanese feast for Aleya (home from college) 
-- compliments of chef Abdul and Gaffer


Eggplant, red and green peppers stuffed with ground beef

Blender prepared vegetable salad

Tilapia fish with carrots, potato, and onion

Foul - Fava beans with tomato sauce

Monday, March 25, 2013

Death of Privat Precil, An overview of his professional life and achievements

April 11, 1952 – March 17, 2013

Attorney Privat Précil

Overview of his professional life and achievements:
Attorney, Journalist, and Sports and Music Enthusiast!

Port-au-Prince, Haiti – March 25, 2013 – Privat Précil was born in Boucan-Bélier, a rural area of Côtes de Fer but moved to Petit Goave at a young age to live with his mother and attend Catholic school. Following graduation, Mr. Précil entered the theological seminary of the Salesian order in Cap Haitian in a class of twenty-three people including Jean-Bertrand Aristide who later became president of Haiti. Close to the completion of his seminary training, Mr. Précil left for Haiti’s State University, School of Law. He worked as a Customs Inspector while he studied law from 1974 to 1978. Upon completing law school Mr. Précil practiced law in Haiti in the domain of land rights, and other specialties.

Putting his legal career on hold, he moved to New York where he worked from 1981 through 1995 as a newspaper and radio journalist covering legal issues, community affairs, culture and sports for the Haitian community. From 1987 to 1989 Mr. Précil studied political journalism through the Educatel-Cifor School of Journalism in Belgium receiving his diploma. Mr. Précil was a staff writer at Haiti Observateur for many years before creating his own newspaper for a brief period.

Throughout Mr. Précil’s life he had a passion for soccer and became a FIFA certified soccer referee and coach. He coached briefly for a New Jersey college.

In 1995 Mr. Précil moved back to Haiti and was appointed by Haiti’s Prime Minister, Claudette Werleigh, to be the Co-director, and later the Acting Director, of Haiti’s newly created National Office on Migration (ONM). From 1995 until 1997 Mr. Précil oversaw the resettlement of 80,000 Haitian refugees returning from several countries after having fled Haiti during the 1991-1994 coup d’etat period. Mr. Précil secured school scholarships for hundreds of children of returning refugees at the time.  In 1996 Mr. Précil traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica for a one-week training seminar on the resettlement of refugee populations sponsored by the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

From 1995 to present Mr. Précil had a private law practice specializing in civil affairs, electoral challenges, human rights, real property law, and was based in the law offices of the late Minister of Justice, Guy Malary. Mr. Précil was an active member of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association in good standing.

Starting in 1996 to present Mr. Précil served as the pro bono counsel to Alternative Chance/Chans Altenativ, a Haiti-based reintegration program for Criminal Deportees. Mr. Précil authored a May 1999 report for the Panos Institute entitled Criminal Deportees and Returned Teens, a Migration Phenomenon, a Social Problem, that continues to be widely cited in academic and human rights reports and books. In 2006, Mr. Précil was awarded recognition by Alternative Chance for his continuous and courageous work on behalf of the human rights of criminal deportees in Haiti.

In 2001, under President Rene Preval, Mr. Précil worked as a translator in the Office of the Foreign Press Liaison in Haiti’s National Palace.  In 2001, under President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Mr. Précil served as legal counsel to Haiti’s Parliament drafting laws on environment, children’s rights, and other legislation. Mr. Précil was the main drafter of a historic piece of legislation that was ratified by Parliament in September 2001 prohibiting physical abuse, humiliation and exploitation of children.  

In 2002 Privat was appointed by President Aristide as the Director General of Haiti’s Ministry of Justice, where along with administrative duties he also worked closely with the international community to advance the legal process of several key, controversial matters. From 2002 through 2004, Mr. Précil attended several training seminars given by the international community on judicial reform and in 2003 he traveled to Seoul, South Korea where he took part in Anti-Corruption training sponsored by the UNDP (PNUD).

From 2008 to 2011 Mr. Précil served as legal counsel to Haiti’s Ministry of Education, and from 2006 to 2008 served as legal counsel to Haiti’s Ministry of Sports and Youth.

In 2011, at the request of the U.S. based law offices of Reed Smith, Mr. Précil conducted legal research and wrote Viols et reportages médiatiques and facilitated the Workshop for Haiti Media: Protocols on sexual gender-based violence in Haiti.

Throughout his professional career, Mr. Précil steadfastly and courageously advocated for the rights of children, refugees, criminal deportees, women and was an expert on criminal law, judicial reform and land rights.  No matter his title, or field he was working in, Mr. Précil always stayed true to himself and worked at what he believed in. 


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Please support Li, Li, Li! reading storybooks in Haiti's tent camps

While we are giving thanks for family, friends, home, & country, let us also give thanks for our capacity to love, feel compassion and our ability to act on our concerns for others -- here and abroad.

Our trained teams of readers continue to read storybooks in 25 tent camps per week, reaching more than 3,000 children per month. Li, Li, Li! brings joy, stimulates imagination, ignites hope, and models literacy and the power and diversity of books. And, while cholera continues to rage and take lives, we brief children, and their families, on precautions and treatment.

Please continue to support  the unique and empowering work of Li, Li, Li! Read. Please donate today. Your gift of $25 or more will make a difference. 
Donate through our secure Paypal button at 
Look for Li, Li, Li! Reading on Facebook!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Samantha Black's Appeal Letter on Behalf of Li, Li, Li! Read

Dear Friends,

If you are receiving this mass email you know it is historic.  I don't send out mass communications ever except for work of course!   I have a wonderful thing to tell you about and a favor to ask you.  Amelia Burgess has written you about the benefit for Li Li Li, an amazing organization started by our incredible friend, Michelle Karshan.  Amelia is a board member as well as a huge supporter of the organization.  Let me tell you a bit about why the organization has moved me to not only become involved but to truly believe in their mission and purpose.  In a nutshell, Li Li Li is about putting Haiti back to work several meaningful jobs at a time while inspiring the imaginations of the most vulnerable -- the children living in tent camps all over Haiti. 

Officially,  Li, Li, Li! (which means Read, Read, Read! in Haitian Creole) is a storybook reading out loud program in Creole for Haiti's children who became homeless or displaced because of the catastrophic January 12, 2010 earthquake. Founded in February 2010, Li, Li, Li! is based in Haiti and has been reading in the camps since April 2010. Li, Li, Li! Read, Inc. is a not-for-profit program registered in the State of New York.

Li, Li, Li! provides an engaging, interactive, and fun hour-long activity for children displaced by the earthquake that addresses the trauma and anxiety children are suffering, encourages literacy, creates a model for parents to read to their children, reinforces Creole, and contributes to job creation. (Plus, it gives crucial time to parents who need a break from cramped quarters with their kids and we all know how important that is for parental sanity.)

In addition to reading books written in Creole, Li, Li, Li! translates other language storybooks into Creole and often uses puppets and dolls to animate the stories as well.

Personally, I think Edwidge Danticat who is reading at Saturday's benefit says it best when she asked the readers why they read.  "In the midst of such sadness and turmoil, why read to displaced children who live in tents and fear the rain, like the passionate Haitian readers of the Port-au-Prince-based Li, Li, Li! (Read, Read, Read!) program do every week?

"We read to these children for the same reason people read to all other children," the readers say. "We read to them to help them grow their imaginations, to teach them about the world around them. And beyond them. We also read to them to learn from them."

So here is the favor part.  Will you consider coming to the Li Li Li Reading/Benefit Cocktail Party with celebrated author Edwidge Danticat this Saturday in Brooklyn?  All details are on the home page of the website and if you can't make the reading, despite the fact that Sabrina and I will be there with other friends, ... will you consider giving a donation.  Every donation goes to supporting this amazing program and to creating desperately needed jobs in Haiti.  We all know what an important place in our education reading aloud had not to mention what a magical space it created.  Our parents gave us this joyous gift of reading and encouraging our imaginations.  Will you pass that wonderful advantage on by contributing to this fantastic organization?  Hit the donate button on the website above and I will be eternally grateful for your support of this cause.

Thanks a million for reading this and for being the wonderful supportive friends you are.

Samantha Black

New York, New York

Please feel free to pass this along to other friends all are welcome at the Benefit and donations are always needed.  This is a very grassroots organization.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Evening with Author Edwidge Danticat to Benefit Li, Li, Li! Read

Photo of Edwidge Danticat/Copyright Nancy Crampton

An Evening with Author Edwidge Danticat to Benefit Li, Li, Li! Read

Intimate Reception with Author Edwidge Danticat on Saturday, October 22, 2001 in Boerum Hill, downtown Brooklyn. Intimate Reception with Edwidge Danticat from  6:30-7:30pm followed by General Event from 7:30-10:30pm at Belarusian Church, 401 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York 11217.

Activities include a Reading & Q&A with Edwidge Danticat, Video of Li, Li, Li! reading storybooks in Haiti's tent camps, entertainment, Haitian art & culture, refreshments & light food, autographed books for sale, silent auction including painting donated by Jonathan Demme.

Li, Li, Li! Read is a not-for-profit literacy program reading storybooks out loud in Creole to more than 3,000 children per month in earthquake-victim tent camps in Haiti. The program promotes literacy, eases stress, and creates jobs for Haitians.

Advisory Board member Edwidge Danticat is actively engaged in the Li, Li, Li! program and regularly participates in its storybook reading sessions in Haiti.

For Pricing and Tickets:
Phone: 212-613-6033

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Photo by Alice Speri. Reginal Janvier reads to children at a tent camp in Tabarre


August 20, 2011


Please donate through our secure Paypal link at

Our storybook reading out loud program helps ease the trauma, the stories inspire hope, and we provide cholera education & supplies. Li, Li, Li! is still very important to the children. It provides relief from the misery and frustration of living in torn tents amongst mud and floods and tropical storms. We provide a model for literacy -- more than half of Haiti's children do not have access to school. We demonstrate to the children that we (you included) truly care and are there for the long haul -- but we need your support to continue this important work.

Our program is still as necessary as it was a year ago!

More than 650,000 people still live in approximately 1,000 horrible tent encampments in and around Haiti's capital. Most of these camps have no resources, no water, no food, no medical care. Human rights & development organizations have criticized the slow response to this humanitarian disaster. A deadly cholera epidemic is still raging causing more deaths and suffering. 

Finally, our readers, all Haitian and victims of the earthquake, receive a monthly salary that is critical to the wellbeing of their own families -- each supporting approximately 6 other people.

Thank you. (Look for us on Facebook as well)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PDHRP applauds ABA Support of the Right of Deportees to Reopen their Immigration Cases

August 17, 2011

PDHRP applauds ABA Support of the Right of Deportees to Reopen their Immigration Cases

The Post-Deportation Human Rights Project commends the American Bar Association (ABA) for adopting a resolution calling for the elimination of the “post-departure bar” on filing motions to reopen or to reconsider removal proceedings. The “post-departure bar” prevents individuals who have been removed from U.S. soil from legally challenging their deportation cases, even when they later discover that major errors had occurred or they were deported based on legal theories that the Supreme Court has overturned. We estimate that thousands of long-term legal residents have been wrongly deported or denied the opportunity to ask courts to consider their family ties, rehabilitation, and other factors.

The ABA is the largest voluntary professional association in the world, with nearly 400,000 members and, as part of its mission, it strives to advance just laws and to assure meaningful access to justice for all persons. The ABA’s resolution is particularly timely, as over the course of recent years a majority of federal courts have invalidated the post-departure bar, and a petition for rulemaking to eliminate the post-departure regulation is pending before the Department of Justice. Despite these developments, the Board of Immigration Appeals continues to hold that it lacks authority to review motions filed by individuals who have been deported, finding instead that such individuals have simply “passed beyond our aid.”

Boston College

Law School Prof. Daniel Kanstroom - Co-Director of the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project - worked in conjunction with Prof. Rachel Rosenbloom of Northeastern University School of Law and formerly of the Project, and Prof. Jill Family of Widener University School of Law to achieve support from the ABA. A link to the ABA Resolution (Resolution 104A) is available here:

Challenging the post-departure bar through federal litigation and advocacy has been at the core of the work of the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project. In light of the passage of the ABA Resolution and the recent federal court decisions invalidating the regulation, we call on the appropriate government agencies to eliminate the post-departure bar regulation and to allow proper legal and discretionary consideration of these compelling cases.

Note from LaughingMaze: Michelle Karshan, Alternative Chance/Chans Altenativ sits on the Advisory Board of the Post-Deportation Human Rights Project of Boston College Law School.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Erzulie Freda by the late master flag artist, Lalanne

Click on image to see details of Erzulie's jewels and wealth.
Erzulie Freda by the late master flag artist, Lalanne

Erzulie Danthor by the late master flag artist, Lalanne

Click on image to see it larger.
Erzulie Danthor by the late master flag artist, Lalanne

Detail from Erzulie with paper face by Maxon

Click on image to see it larger.
This is a detail from the flag below.

Erzulie with paper face by Maxon

Click on image to see larger image

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jayne Fleming's March 4, 2011 letter on her work in Haiti with rape survivors, KOFAVIV, FAVILEK, etc.

Jayne Fleming* receives Maricia Jean of FAVILEK in New York for a multi-state speaking tour
Photo by Michelle Karshan

NY1News interview
* Jayne Fleming is an attorney with the Reed Smith law firm working on pro bono cases. Through a foundation in the name of her late mother, Jayne runs a unique program for rape survivors and their families in Haiti. To donate, see link below.

March 4, 2011

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry for the long silence. I just arrived home from our beloved Haiti. This makes my sixth trip in twelve months. I delivered another hundred pounds of your donations to our families, including baby clothes and supplies for our tiny cherubs, a hundred stuffed teddy bears for the sweet children, and belated Valentines for their courageous mothers and grandmothers. Toys and chocolates may not be as practical as flashlights and water purification tablets, but they are a rare indulgence and bring priceless smiles.

I did my usual round of interviews at KOFAVIV and the Bureau of Advocates International, met with the leaders of FAVILEK, visited our safe houses, spent time talking with women living in the camps, and met with UNHCR. I talked to more than a hundred people over six days and conducted thirty-two in depth interviews. Long days, sobering stories, courageous women.

Two of our mothers told me that police officers wielding clubs attacked them at their camp in Champs Mars (across from the National Palace), ordering them to clear out. Of course they would if they could, but they have nowhere to go. The assault on them was part of a sweeping police raid on their whole camp and it reflects the ever-increasing problem of forced evictions, even at the hands of government officials. The attack is no secret, but there has been no government accountability. I asked our clients if they made a police report. They said they were too afraid to do so because the perpetrators are part of the police, but they agreed to speak with a team of IJDH advocates working on wrongful eviction issues.

Housing is not the only problem. Rape of women and girls in camps continues to be an under-addressed crisis. On Saturday one of our clients told me about a 45-year old woman who had been so brutally raped she could not walk. She could not get to the BAI because she had no money for a cab. We sent a car to pick her up. The woman told me she was trying to rescue her teenage daughter from rapists. Her daughter escaped, but then they turned on her. After I interviewed her, the driver and a KOFAVIV agent took her to the General Hospital with her brave teenage sons. She was hospitalized (still is) and the boys slept in the hospital courtyard, taking turns sitting at her bedside. Despite all of the promises from the head of the hospital and Ministry of Health, her care was not free. We paid over $200 (US) for x-rays, prescriptions and exams.

Hers was not the only tragic story. I interviewed a 22-year old rape victim who is an orphan and has no place to go, an 18-year old victim who gave birth and is too malnourished to nurse, an orphan with malaria and no money for medicine, a dozen elderly women with no access to food, housing or medical care. We gave all of them money for food and medicine, but our safe houses are full so we could not provide shelter.

Although the challenges are enormous, the women and children I interviewed showed remarkable resiliency. They are survivors. Still, the light has gone out of their eyes. They have suffered hunger, homelessness and brutality for more than a year. Many had suffered harsh conditions and violence before the earthquake. They have not given up, but I felt a deepening sense of despair this week, a wearing down of the inner reserves needed for survival. Where is hope?

While it's easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of their suffering, my philosophy has always been "one woman, one child". If we can give one woman the tools to reclaim her life, we will have taken one step forward on the path to social justice and we will have made a difference in the world.

With this idea in mind, I met with a small group of 18 women on Sunday afternoon and brainstormed about how they could move beyond tragedy towards empowerment, from a situation of dependence to one of self-support. The reaction was initially grim. They have nothing, they said, no more than a dollar in their pocket. Where would they get the resources needed to rebuild their lives? My offer to help build bridges

to resources was met with skepticism. They'd been victims of false promises for too long. I swore I would not betray or mislead them. I confessed I don't have millions, or anything even remotely close, but I promised to advocate for them for as long as it takes. I have become very close to all of these women over the last year because they are in my safe houses. They decided to give me a chance.

Their "homework" for Sunday night was to come up with a personal plan of how they could reclaim their independence. I urged them to dream, but cautioned that pragmatism is an important ingredient to success. I suggested that each woman come up with a business concept that could be launched with a modest investment (around $1500) - a small beginning,

but very significant in Haiti. We reconvened the next day. It seems that once the idea started to sink in, their creative juices started to flow.

Everyone arrived with an outline of their plan on paper. At first people were quite shy, a bit uncertain of what was expected of them. I could see they had worked hard on their "homework." Rather than calling on anyone, I asked for volunteers. One young woman who has been terribly discouraged for the last few months timidly raised her hand. I urged her to tell us her idea. This talented young widow and mother of two said she wants to open a beauty shop. She described the types of products she would sell, wigs and hair extensions and cosmetics. She also envisioned styling hair and doing nails at her shop. Turns out she already has a degree from a beauty school. She had a shop before, but it collapsed in the earthquake. She has a booth reserved at the downtown market, but no merchandise. All she needs is a helping hand to get re-launched. We all gave her our full attention. Some of the women offered ideas and words of encouragement. I can honestly tell you I have never seen this woman smile before. As she talked, I watched her eyes light up. She broke into the most radiant smile. We all praised her vision and talent. We were off to a good start.

After our bold beautician broke the ice, we went around the table. Four women said they want to resume vocations as shopkeepers selling groceries and household items, something they feel confident they can do with a bit of help getting started because they did it before the earthquake. Two women said they want to be chefs and open their own restaurants. I learned they are celebrated cooks within their circle of families and friends. Another young woman wants to open a fashion boutique. Her sister wants to open a cafe. The girls are orphans raising their four younger siblings.

And so it goes ...

The most beautiful thing about our meeting was how animated everyone became. I have become so used to the flat expressionless demeanor that goes hand in hand with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was taken aback by their change of mood- from darkness to light. As we shared ideas and brainstormed about how to make their plans a reality, I watched the women's expressions soften, their eyes become brighter, their shoulders lift as they sat taller in their chairs and felt validated. It was moving beyond words.

I grew up with very little, but I was always told I could achieve my dreams if I worked hard. I feel the same is true of these courageous women. They just need someone (us) to believe in them. The goal now, and our responsibility, is to give them the tools and resources they need to achieve their dreams.

My plan is to identify 18 mentors for these 18 women. The role of a mentor is to cheer them on, kind of like a pen pal. I'll provide an interpreter for the mentors as needed. Mentors can be from anywhere, in the U.S. or Haiti or elsewhere. The only qualification required is compassion and enthusiasm.

I also plan to work with an NGO called "We Lead" to help the women develop their business plans and fine-tune their skills as small business owners. We Lead is based in Haiti, but affiliated with Heartland Alliance in Chicago, an organization my firm has worked with for a long time. I'll also work with Lisa Davis of MADRE in NYC. Lisa is a women's advocate with enormous talent and wisdom. Finally, I'll do everything I can to raise enough money to allow each woman to start her business and fulfill her dream. If you'd like to work with us on this project, in any capacity (mentor, supporter, expert), please let me know. I would deeply appreciate your support.

I know this email has become long, so I will conclude with a happy story. Three of our young clients have given birth since the earthquake.

The babies were conceived through violence, but received into the world with open hearts and tremendous love. On Sunday morning we celebrated the baptism of the three newborns at the chapel at St. Damien's Hospital. I had the honor of becoming the Godmother to one of the babies. They are so precious, our tiniest miracles. Not one baby cried.

They were all awake and alert and wholly mesmerized with the priest.

They were angelic in their white baptism gowns. These precious ones deserve all that life has to offer. I pray we will do our utmost to honor and protect them.

In closing, thank you for your ongoing support and friendship. I am blessed to have such a wonderful circle of friends and colleagues. I can't do this work without your emotional support. I hesitate to ask for more than this, but know you will not fault me for inviting financial support for our families, too. You all know by now that the guardian angel of this project is my mom. If you wish to make a contribution to her foundation, you may do so here:

This is what makes the work possible.

With friendship and my deepest gratitude, Jayne
Jayne Fleming