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“The Right to Play” - Help for Children of Haiti

The recent earthquake in Haiti gave the world a small glimpse into the problems and needs of Haiti's children prior to the quake, but now they are many times multiplied. Nearly half of Haiti's nearly 10 million people are younger than 18, and many of them are orphans.
Youth for Human Rights Florida member beats his drum for Haitian Orphans
Youth for Human Rights Florida member beats his drum for Haitian Orphans
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article
# 24 came to life on April 30th as youth and adults alike created rhythms in drum circles and raced toy cars as they enjoyed the art exhibit during a playful evening to raise awareness of the need to continue to support the orphans of Haiti. The art exhibit, "For the Future/For the Children: Two Views of Haiti", was presented by The Future of Haiti Orphanage and sponsored in part by Youth for Human Rights Florida. The event was held at System Productions Studio as part of a three week photo expo of professional photographs taken in Haiti.

The recent earthquake in Haiti gave the world a small glimpse into the problems and needs of Haiti's children prior to the quake, but now they are many times multiplied. Nearly half of Haiti's nearly 10 million people are younger than 18, and many of them are orphans.

But the black and white photography exhibit of world-renowned photographers Gracia Bennish and Brad Kugler, displayed a unique perspective of the effects of the earthquake in Haiti - not one of only devastation, but of hope for the future.

The Future of Haiti is an orphanage and school founded in response to the January earthquake to help as many orphaned children as possible. It was created to not just give these orphan children mere food and shelter, but to give them comfort to heal their emotional wounds, loving adults who care, and an education to help bring about a better, stronger Haiti. It is the hope of the founders that with love and help the children will grow to be responsible leaders who will help their communities rebuild and bring human rights to the country of Haiti.

Event organizer Elena Chiancianesi stated, "These children and their rights are important to us, as humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard once said, "When you save a child, you save the nation," and the best thing that we can do for Haiti is to nurture these children so that they grow up to be the pride of Haiti."

Award winning photographer Gracia Bennish describes her photographs as art that "captures the intensity of emotion of life's defining moments". Her photographs cover a gamut of emotions from political and civil unrest in Southeast Asia, Africa or Baghdad to marketing of Fortune 500 companies such as McDonald's, Motorola and Merrill Lynch to heart-felt animal stories in the pages of Africa Geographic. But since the recent earthquake, her heart is in Haiti. When speaking of her art Ms. Bennish, President of United for Human Rights said, "The strength of spirit of the Haitian people and those who came to help was truly the brotherhood of man and inspired my heart and eye as a photographer."

Brad Kugler's photographs can be seen in a variety of avenues from newspapers, to fashion magazines, to museum exhibits. His eye has caught the emotions of people from around the world as he has traveled extensively, photographing people in China, South Korea, France, South Africa, Israel, Ireland, and beyond. But his most memorable experience is his recent time spent capturing pictures of hope after the earthquake in Haiti, that have been featured on national news and programs such as David Letterman and NBC's The Today Show. Kugler says, "I like to take pictures that capture the essence of what I find best in people...achieving their own happiness as they experience life and others, helping others."
Youth for Human Rights Florida is a non-profit organization with the purpose to educate youth about human rights so they become valuable advocates of tolerance and peace. Youth for Human Rights Florida not only works hands-on with youth, but also with parents, teachers and mentors.
The drum circle was provided by Steve Turner of Giving Tree Music.
The successful event raised a total of $3,500 to help care for the children at the The Future of Haiti Orphanage. (www.thefutureofhaiti.org) Toys were also donated. The art exhibit "For the Future/For the Children: Two Views of Haiti", which is free, will remain open to the public Monday through Friday during business hours until May 15 at: System Productions, 34 North Garden Avenue, in downtown Clearwater, Florida.