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Los Angeles' Art Community Joins Together to Improve Lives of Haitian Children

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On Friday, September 28th, the Los Angeles art community joined together at the home of Shanit and Sam Schwartz, collectors of contemporary art who have been supporting the artworld for over a decade, to raise funds in support of GiveLove's ongoing efforts in Haiti. Since the catastrophic earthquake in 2010, Haitian people are still struggling to recover.

Patricia Arquette and Rosetta Getty founded GiveLove, which supports a number of projects to improve the lives of children, through school-based programs, in addition to promoting composting toilets in Haiti to improve public health.

From L Sara Wolf, Rosetta Getty, Shanit Schwartz, Sterling Ruby, Patricia Arquette, Alisa Puga Keesey
From L-Sara Wolf, Rosetta Getty, Shanit Schwartz, Sterling Ruby, Patricia Arquette, Alisa Puga Keesey
Photo: Orly Halevy

Sterling Ruby Curates Art Auction

The 2nd annual event featured an art auction curated by internationally renowned artist Sterling Ruby. Sterling Ruby assembled an exciting cross section of Los Angeles artists both emerging and established, with a special focus on ceramic and textile artists. In attendance were local and international artists, dealers, art collectors, and a distinguished host committee.

Funding GiveLove Programs For Haiti

Patricia and Shanit work as a team to fund GiveLove's programs in Haiti. Patricia leads the sanitation project, while Shanit heads the school lunch program. "Parents abandon their kids because they cannot feed them and . Food keeps them together," explains Shanit. Through GiveLove's projects, hundreds of Haitian school children, living in tent cities, now thrive with a hot lunch program, clean compost toilets, and improved sanitation, which is small oasis for them. "GiveLove's programs are needed now more than ever to prevent cholera and provide Haitians with the training and tools to treat and compost waste, improve public health, and protect water resources," says Arquette.

Through technical support and training, GiveLove's Eco-Sanitation program teaches Haitian people how to create and manage small-scale composting systems to improve public health and promote job creation. Over the past year, GiveLove has partnered with Architecture for Humanity (AFH) to design three new Green Schools in Port-au-Prince. The organization also provides technical support for many international NGOs working to develop low-cost sanitation systems for the new housing projects underway in Haiti. The new Green Schools will provide compost toilets for several thousand children, and design models for similar school compost projects worldwide. GiveLove also provides financial support to smaller charities working to improve the lives of children in need.

Patricia Arquette - Improving Public Health

GiveLove Display Board
Photo: Orly Halevy

Arquette explains that Ecological Sanitation, also known as EcoSan, is a bold new approach to sanitation and resource management that recognizes the importance of organics recycling. "When you work on improving sanitation, like we do in Haiti," you start to really see the big picture. Sanitation is the keystone to solving so many problems in the world - improving public health, reducing child mortality, recycling and reducing waste, and protecting water resources - and yet no one is really talking about the problem of untreated sewage or the fact that 40% of the world's poorest people live without a toilet. The global community needs to commit resources to finding sustainable solutions." Patricia's passion for composting and improving public health through sanitation has helped draw global attention to this Brown Revolution. Arquette frankly states that, "more people have a cell phone than access to a proper toilet and this is a major cause of water and environmental pollution worldwide, yet no one is really talking about it."

AMURT and GiveLove Team Up on Ecological Sanitation

Patricia travels to Haiti on a regular basis to oversee the work of her Haiti-based team. GiveLove's hands-on approach to ecological sanitation has inspired the best experts in the field to come work on her program in Haiti.

I also spoke with Sara Wolf and Edward Addams who run the organization AMURT in Haiti, one of GiveLove's partners in the Green School Program. Most of their work is voluntary. "After the earthquake, we slept in warlike conditions," Sara told me, "we used storage containers as housing, and cut a hole in the ceiling and used an empty water bottle for a lamp. The bureaucracy is a killer in Haiti and thus can slow progress of any project. The lack of any improved sanitation system in Haiti has polluted scarce water resources, contaminated drinking water, and has spread cholera like wildfire, says Wolf. There hasn't been cholera on this scale in Haiti in almost a century."

Echo loo

Sara has been living in Haiti for four years, long before the 2010 earthquake. She is one of the many foot soldiers working with GiveLove. You would not know from looking at this beautiful woman that she spent has nine months living in a tent after the earthquake, like most of the Haitians she works within the tent camps. Wolf's work is guided by a simple Modus Operandi, "serve and give back to humanity. We focus on teaching and training."

GiveLove: Healing Haiti With Social Change

To heal Haiti you have to create the right environment for social change. GiveLove has established a Green School program to teach and promote compost sanitation at the AMURT School in Port-au-Prince. The compost program and gardening compliments the Shanit Schwartz School Lunch program in a holistic approach to improving health. Moring trees grown at the school are used to make a vitamin-rich Moringa tea, which boosts energy and improves stamina for the children. These simple interventions are making a world of difference to the kids in Haiti that participate in the program, and their model can be scaled in other parts of Haiti. Wolf, Schwartz and Arquette's programs will eventually train hundreds of teachers and community compost workers. They have shown that small efforts can lead to big change.

"Serve and give back to humanity. We focus on teaching and training." - Sara Wolf

I have not been to Haiti but in this event Haiti came to me and increased my awareness. There is so much in the world that needs to go around and so little to go around.

GiveLove gives hope!

For more information, please visit: www.givelove.org
Vidoes: GiveLove established its first successful humanure compost project in Cite Soleil in May 2010, at one of the largest IDP camps in Port-au-Prince. They use Joseph Jenkins, who wrote the Humanure Handbook as GiveLove's key technical consultant.

Video: Loveable Loo Eco-Friendly Compost Toilet:

Nurit Greenger sees Israel and the United States equally, as the last two forts of true democratic freedom and since 2006, has been writing about events in these two countries. Contact her by writing to nurit.4.nuritg@gmail.com Read more stories by Nurit Greenger.

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