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Haitian soup joumou, as shown in this still from the film Liberty in a Soup. The film will be shown — and soup served — at 118 Elliot.

The Arts

Film, dinner benefit Haitian orphans

‘Liberty in a Soup’ tells story of Haitian Independence Day

HOST is actively seeking more sponsors to join the sponsorship team — 18 percent of the sponsors live in Southern Vermont, and the rest come from 11 different U.S. states and Ecuador. For more information about HOST’s work in Haiti and how you can get involved, visit

BRATTLEBORO—A film screening and dinner will benefit a group of orphans being supported by a small, grassroots non-profit based in Brattleboro known as Haiti Orphanage Sponsorship Trust (HOST).

Windham World Affairs Council and 118 Elliot are joining with HOST to sponsor this event on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m., at the community space at 118 Elliot St.

Liberty in a Soup, a documentary by Haitian filmmaker Dudley Alexis, tells the story of the Haitian Revolution in 1804 and the origins of the Haitian Independence Day tradition in which the country’s families gather around the dinner table to celebrate freedom and enjoy a meal of soup joumou each year on Jan. 1.

After the film, a meal of homemade soup joumou prepared by HOST volunteers will be served. It’s traditionally a mix of squash, potatoes, and meat, but a vegetarian version will be available, as well as bread, cheese, and beverages.

The suggested contribution is $10 per person.

All proceeds will support HOST’s mission to meet basic needs for food, education, medical care, and other essentials for the children living at Foyer Evangelique Orphanage in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti.

How did an organization formed in Brattleboro end up supporting Haitian orphans?

It all began when Mariam Diallo, a native of Mali in West Africa who now lives in Brattleboro and works at Hilltop Montessori School, traveled to Haiti in 2010, less than six months after the earthquake that devastated the country, with the intention of volunteering at an orphanage for earthquake orphans.

Diallo spent six weeks at Foyer Evangelique Orphanage that summer and got to know everyone there during that time.

The children were being cared for by Haitian educator Pastor Duckens Janvier and his wife Deslourdes, who “opened their home and hearts to 57 children after the earthquake and surrounded them with the affection and emotional support of true parents, raising them alongside their three biological children,” as described in a news release for the event.

A small group of residents were inspired by Diallo’s experience and wanted to provide ongoing support to the children.

Diallo teamed with local teacher Sheila Humphreys to found HOST, and for the past eight years the organization, affiliated with the tax-exempt and tax-deductible nonprofit Trusteeship Institute in Shutesbury, Mass., has been helping meet the basic needs of food, shelter, education, clothing, and medical care for the children there.

More than 60 sponsors contribute more than $3,000 per month toward meeting the children’s needs. The sponsorship program, launched in 2012, covers approximately two-thirds of the cost of their care.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #488 (Wednesday, December 5, 2018). This story appeared on page B2.

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