Bound by Haiti is the story of Aaron Jackson and John Dieubon - two young international activists forced to deal with the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake first-hand. Raised on a wealthy resort, Aaron has dedicated his life to eradicating intestinal parasites in Haiti. Born and orphaned in Port-au-Prince, John's mission is to inspire a new generation of Haitian children.
But when the earthquake of January 12th strikes, Aaron and John must confront the biggest challenge of their lives. The filmmakers, staying in Port-au-Prince on the day of the earthquake, captured the devastation. Featuring rare footage from immediately following the earthquake, Bound by Haiti follows these unlikely friends on a journey for change before and after the most devastating international event of our time.
Interview with John Dieubon by Nicole Kristel
NK: What was the incentive for you to participate in this documentary? What were you hoping to accomplish?
JD: I believe very strongly that Haiti will be changed by its own people and each time I have an opportunity to stand and speak for what I believe, it is a door that I must go through. I have great experience in Haiti working with children and also with groups that are helping Haiti; I participated in the documentary to come up with a new speech about Haiti. For many years, it has been said that Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere and no drastic changes have been taken towards changing it, but instead, many use the poverty of Haiti for their own motive and the people here believe in that, they act poor and think poor. My involvement in the film was to talk to people about a new way of life, and help them see Haiti and the people of Haiti with a different view-especially children. My involvement with kids is to build a new generation with a different mindset, telling the children what they have not heard, that way they will not let people use them, instead they will know that they have value, potential, greatness and capacity in them.
NK: How did you begin working with Aaron?
JD: Working in Haiti for many years with different groups, orphanages and organizations helped me to understand life and also how those systems work. I was dissatisfied with how those groups worked and I decided to get involved and make a difference. I was working with homeless kids and a youth group when I met Aaron. I was working on opening up a kids center and when Aaron came to Haiti for the first time, he met me while I was interpreting for one of the doctors Aaron was working with at a medical clinic in cite solei. When I found out that Aaron was running the program, I walked to him and said, “Thank you for helping my people, because I always believe that Haiti must be supported by Haiti first”. Aaron later realized that the group he was with was working with was not genuine, I invited him to come back and he decided to support what I was doing in Haiti.
NK: John you mentioned that so much food and money was being raised for Haiti but not actually reaching the people.
JD: I did mention in the film how money is being raised and not reaching the people. There is a problem with most of the groups that are working in Haiti, they think they know the problem of Haiti better than Haitian people. They waste money on nonsense projects. Sometimes funds are being raised and not being sent to Haiti. The funds are being raised on behalf of Haiti when only 10 or 20 percent is actually sent to Haiti. Haiti has great need and I think some groups like it when Haiti has great need, it seems like it sounds good for fund raising. The goal of the fundraising is to help solve the problems in Haiti, not to keep Haiti the same or make it worse
NK: What is the best way for us to help and ensure that aid is actually being received?
JD: I believe the best way to help Haiti is to find genuine Haiti groups that really love Haiti and want to make a difference. It is also important to find Haitian groups that have a purpose, because there are so many groups that don't have a good purpose, they just want to get busy and do something. I think it is also good to start a relationship with a group and figure out what they are up to before pumping money into the organization and not seeing any results. People are always waiting for a sad story before they can support a project, which is not good, because groups and people will create a sad story just to get the money. I believe people now must invest in something that has a genuine goal and purpose. For the school of Madame Beauge, I was able to complete the school because the donor believes in the goal of the school and once he decided to partner with me, money was sent, I made progress and sent reports and I was able to do more.
NK: How is the school in Madame Beauge “Little Africa”? Were you able to open it in time?
JD: The school is now completely finished, we just need to paint the building, and we will be able to officially get into the building in October this year. It is a great help for the community.
NK: If there was one thing you would want the audience to take away from your story what would it be?
JD: I want the audience to be able to discover that life is not about ourselves, we all were created with a mission that is bigger than ourselves. This world is full of selfish people, once we start serving and helping each other we will have a better world. Haiti is a tough place, but I choose to stay there to make a difference no matter what may come my way, I am so confident in my calling.
NK: With everything that happened, what is it that keeps you so strong and so able to be such a positive role model for the people of Haiti?
JD: I believe someone has to stand and speak for Haiti, I believe someone has to go out of their comfort zone and stand for Haiti. If I don't who will? God gave me a heart for people and especially for the people of Haiti, and I choose to live by choice not by chance.
Review by Nicole Kristel
Bound by Haiti, a documentary featuring rare footage immediately following the 2010 earthquake, will be screened at the 2011 Astoria/LIC International Film Festival.
Bound by Haiti is a story of an unlikely friendship born out of a response to tragic conditions. The film follows two young men from very different lifestyles who band together to fight poverty in Haiti. Aaron Jackson, a native Floridian, was raised on a golf course at a prestigious resort. After visiting Haiti and witnessing the devastating effects of poverty he decided to devote his life to providing aid. With little outside funding he started his company Planting Peace with the lofty goal of deworming the children of Haiti; all 5.6 million of them. While abroad he met John Dieubon a Haitian who was orphaned on the streets of Port-au-Prince. John has channeled the pains of his difficult childhood into a personal endeavor to better the lives of the next generation of children. John is responsible for opening several orphanages, initiating efforts to build new schools, but most importantly, for instigating a change in the mindset of his fellow Haitians. In his efforts to break what he sees as a ‘mentality of poverty’ he preaches to the children that “the plan that God has for your life is bigger than the environment you are in right now”. Little did he know the extent this belief would be tested.
What began as a project to document Aaron and John’s novel relationship evolved into something much bigger when the two men are faced with one of the most devastating natural disasters in history; the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Back in the United States Aaron frantically attempts to get to Haiti and contact John, whose faith is being tested amidst the devastation of his county and its people. Johns previous optimism appears crushed under the weight of the bodies of friends he was forced to haul from the rubble. When Aaron finally arrives in Haiti his desire to help is invigorated and he increases his deworming efforts twofold. Aaron eventually returns to the United States to brave the public sphere and act as a voice for Haiti. John remains in Haiti and works alongside his fellow countrymen to adjust to life after the earthquake. His vow to challenge the mentality of poverty is revived as he encourages his people to “start a new country with a new vision”.
Featuring rare video and photos from the documentary crew and John Dieubon, Bound by Haiti follows two young men who share a vision; help Haiti on its journey for change.