To help Haiti access clean water… Come to the cabaret on Saturday

The Roundhill Community Church and the Alliance Française of Greenwich will present an evening of French cabaret and other delights on Sept. 8 to benefit Mission Granbois, a private foundation providing assistance to the village of Granbois, Haiti.

Held at the Roundhill Community Church, the event will feature Amsterdam native Micheline Van Autem and the Huxley Vertical Cabaret Nouveau Orchestra in hopes of raising enough funds to provide 200 village families with clean water.

According to Greenwich resident Michael Sandifer, organizer of the event, Mission Granbois was founded by Edouarine Alexandre Vilceus and her family 20 years ago in an effort to give back to the Haitian community from which they came. The area has no clean water, no paved roads, no electricity, no sanitary facilities, widespread poverty and hunger, and no nearby school facilities. The principal occupation of people there is subsistence farming.

Mission Granbois, which is personally funded by the Alexandre family, began by providing financial assistance to young villagers to help them pursue educational opportunities by mentoring and paying for school supplies, uniforms and fees. Education and provision of health services, including clean water, are the foundation’s key priorities, in addition to the development of greater financial and volunteer resources to help village residents better improve their community and achieve self sufficiency.

In January of this year, a health clinic, Centre de Sante de Granbois, was built on land donated by the Alexandre family in 2011. It now serves a population of 10,000 to 15,000 people in the area and has reached more than 1,000 families with health care in spite of numerous limitations like a lack of funding and the need for health awareness to grow in the village, according to Mr. Sandifer.

Mr. Sandifer said his involvement with the organization developed due to his extensive background in non-profit work and as a result of his friendship with Dr. Keville Frederickson, dean of nursing at the City University of New York, where the youngest of the Alexandre family and Mission Granbois’ current CEO, Margarett, is a doctoral student.

In the spring, Mr. Sandifer was asked by the family to take the foundation to the next level by making it more self-sustaining —­ an effort that took off in April on a week-long trip to Granbois.

While visiting the village, Mr. Sandifer said he provided the Centre de Sante de Granbois, which has no clean water or operable plumbing, with two gravitational water bucket filtration systems that produce clean water at a rate of approximately one gallon per hour for the relatively low cost of $35 per unit.

The French cabaret night is an expansion of that effort in hopes of providing filtration systems to 200 village families.

“An awful, awful lot of time is spent getting water or finding water and walking to bring it home, so it’s a big issue,” Mr. Sandifer said.

Fortunately, he added, the Round Hill Community Church has gotten involved and provides Mission Granbois with back office bookkeeping and accounting assistance, allowing the organization to spend the majority of its funds on assisting the village.

“Given the choice, I would put every penny into programming,” especially because the foundation is run on a pro bono and voluntary basis, Mr. Sandifer commented.

The Sept. 8 event is “a wonderful value for what people are getting,” he said.

Tickets include wine, post-show snacks, an engaging performance, an overview of Granbois given by Margarett Alexandre, a silent wine auction courtesy of Glenville Wine, Horseneck Wine and Le Wine Shop, and the chance to purchase water filtration systems to help Granbois families.

At $45 per ticket, Mr. Sandifer said he kept the cost of the French cabaret evening reasonably low on purpose. The clean water project is at the ground level and maintaining that style for the event was important, he explained.

Tickets for the French cabaret may be purchased via cash or check at the door on the night of the event. Seating is limited. To make reservations or for more information, visit roundhillcommunitychurch.org or call 203-869-1091.

 

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