Writers Pen Stories To Help Haiti Earthquake Victims
Posted by Sylvia Petter
April 9, 2010
Susan notes: Susan Partovi, Tania Hershman and Nuala Ni Chonchuir are all featured in an audio book containing 20 of the 100 stories from the print version. The audio book will be released by BBC Audio Books America on 15 April, 2010. Read more at the 100 Stories for Haiti blog.
One week after the earthquake struck in Haiti, a young man in Denmark felt that he had to do something. So he sent out a call for writers to donate stories to a book to be sold to raise money for Haiti.
Almost 500 stories poured in and were vetted by volunteer editors; 100 were chosen. On 4 March, just six weeks after Greg McQueen had his idea, 100 Stories for Haiti was published as a paperback and as an eBook! An amazing feat! Both publishers donated their work to the 100 Stories for Haiti Project with proceeds going to the Red Cross.
All of the writers and editors and the two publishers are amazing for having pitched in to support the dream. But I’d like to tell you about women who participated in the project, because two-thirds of the writers were women. All very different, all three are amazing in their own ways.
First, there’s Susan Partovi an American doctor who supervises residents and students at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in California; Susan is also medical director of Homeless Health Care in Los Angeles.
Last year, Susan decided to create a rural international medical rotation scheme for 3rd year students she’d worked with in the Health Care Advocacy Group and set abut learning about Haiti and fundraising. In December Susan and her group worked in Cazale, about 30 kilometres north of Port-au-Prince. Her experience there appears in 100 Stories for Haiti. Susan came home on New Year’s Day. She returned to Haiti two weeks later. Susan’s writing up her Haiti experience, but let her tell you herself:
“I plan on writing a book that compiles my experiences pre- and post earthquake, that looks at my insecurities as a "good doctor" and good teacher because of encountering so many children dying over and over again and not being able to do anything about it. My ego is a bit rejuvenated when I return, but Haiti is the same. Haiti doesn't change. It's as ruthless as ever but the people are hopeful, as ever."
Susan was kind enough to send me some of her drafts. The writing is immediate, passionate, matter-of-fact, and very human. In a monotone voice one of the translators tells about being one of three survivors when a building with 30 students came down:
"But if I were home, I would have died because my entire family died. But I’m alive and so I have to live. So I help you”. A nurse kept saying, “I’m sorry.” Susan Partovi writes: “I think I said something like “wow”. I was in shock. He’ll be back tomorrow.”
Susan’s story deserves to be told for not only does it show how the heart beats in all its meanings, but without saying so it shows how much there still is to do for the heartbeat of Haiti. It makes me wonder why we always need a disaster to tell us to act, why we can’t watch out for each other, demand clean water, health care, good governance, put the humane back in to human.
Two other contributors to 100 Stories for Haiti are amazing in quite different ways.
Tania Hershman, a former science writer whose collection of stories, The White Road , was highly commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange Prize, is founder and editor of The Short Revie w, the only book review site, that I know of, that is dedicated to the short story. Generous with her writing tips and leads, Tania is currently writer-in-residence in the Science Faculty at Bristol University, based in the Nanoscience and Quantum Information Centre.
She is also the current Fiction Editor of Southword magazine, one of the judges for the Bristol Short Story Prize, the Brit Writers’ Awards and the Sean ? Faoláin Short Story Competition. Her fiction, plays and film scripts have won or been shortlisted for various prizes, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, published in print and online, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and performed. After 15 years in Israel, Tania moved to the UK in 2009 where she writes and blogs about writing at Tania Writes .
Another amazing contributor to 100 Stories for Haiti is the Irish writer, Nuala Ní Chonchúir. Featured in 2009 in The Irish Times as someone to watch, Nuala has published fiction and poetry collections, judged literary competitions and teaches creative writing. Nuala blogs at Women Rule Writer , “the best place to pick up the hot trail of Irish lit blogging.” Her most recent work is the novel, YOU , which will be published on 24 April. And here are a few words about YOU:
“It is Dublin, summer 1980; Kate Bush is on the radio, Nadia Comaneci is cleaning up at the Olympics and The Elephant Man is the film to see. In one house by the Liffey, a spiky but sensitive ten year old girl is minder to her troubled Ma and her two younger brothers. When a tragedy splits the family apart, the girl realises that the only person she can trust is herself, so she takes her future into her own hands."
Sometimes heartbreaking but also charming and funny, YOU is a story about friendship and loyalty and changing your mind, set in rural county Dublin and Wales.”
For a taste of the works of these writers and 97 other writers from all over the world, get a copy of 100 Stories for Haiti, in paperback or as an ebook. Please help the heartbeat of Haiti.