Poverty Resolutions Set to Release Film and Continue Work in Haiti
Documentary Film Follows Four Americans Shining Light on Poverty by Living on $1 per Day in Haiti.
- Philadelphia, PA-NJ (1888PressRelease) June 15, 2011 - One year ago four young Americans joined the masses pouring into Haiti to assist with post-earthquake relief efforts. But these men-Matt Jones, Andrew Jones, Jonathan Rose and Christopher Matticola-arrived in Haiti with rules: For 28 days they would spend just $1 per day on food, supplies and drinking water and live in one of the tent cities that had sprung up around Port-au-Prince following the earthquake.
"We decided consciously that we didn't know enough about Haiti, and in order to do long-term development, we needed to ask what the people of Haiti really needed," said Matt Jones, co-founder of Poverty Resolutions, which was launched concurrently with the 28 Days Project. "We decided to go to Haiti first as learners, to say, 'I'm sorry we don't understand Haiti. Can you show us and teach us?'"
In addition to supporting long-term development in Haiti, Poverty Resolutions also aims to educate Americans about poverty. To help launch their education efforts, they organized a crew of filmmakers to chronicle the 28 Days Project. In September Poverty Resolutions will release the 40-minute documentary filmed during those 28 days. The film seeks to help its audience "experience" poverty, better understand it and be inspired to act to staunch it.
"The death and destruction took us by surprise," said Scott McCollum, one of the camera operators and a post-trip editor of the film. "I think the film will raise eyebrows and shock people that this is what it really was like. Stepping into it and seeing things first-hand really shook a lot of those pre-thoughts as far as how bad it really was. After being there, everything I heard or thought was out the window. Hopefully, this film will share a glimpse of that."
Jones had traveled to other developing countries prior to going to Haiti in May 2010 and thought he had some understanding of poverty. "You spend 15 minutes in a slum and think, 'Wow, that must be rough.' But it's different when you live it. I guess what I realized is that I had no idea. I had no comprehension at all what it means to live it."
Jones explained how not having enough to eat causes a drop in energy. Add in the heat, and even a driven, Type-A person like Jones doesn't want to work. "There's literally a physical barrier to getting ahead because you don't have the calories," he said. "Poverty is completely life encompassing. You can begin to see how it's self-perpetuating. Your focus really does become on food." Poverty Resolutions hopes that showing these aspects of poverty in their film will help improve audiences' understanding of what poverty is really like.
Andrew Jones, Poverty Resolutions' other co-founder, traveled to Haiti in February 2010 right after the earthquake to volunteer as a nurse and then returned to participate in the 28 Days Project. He said the reality of the situation--the smells and more--were worse even than what he had seen on TV. "I hope when people watch the film they can feel it," he said. "This is pain; this is hard; this is what poverty feels like."
Living on just $1 per day was tough, he noted. "We didn't use soap or deodorant for 28 days. But we could come home [28 days later] and use it. They can't." Living in the tent city offered the chance for Andrew Jones and the rest of the team to observe that handouts don't help change the situation in Haiti, partly because, for example, handouts of rice mean the people who sell rice can't make any money. Men who planted corn told Jones their corn was worthless because donated food that was intended to help people was skewing the market.
Learning facts like these are much of the reason Poverty Resolutions has decided to focus on long-term development while other groups focus on meeting short-term relief needs. The long-term focus is guided by questions like: How can we help? How can we partner with existing Haitian organizations and act as a consultant to help them improve? How can we serve Haitians in a way that helps their future not just their now?
Dipping so deeply into the experience of poverty has changed the whole direction of Poverty Resolutions and hopefully helps Poverty Resolutions be more effective in supplying what people really need. "Time after time when we asked, 'What do you need?' they said, 'Jobs.' They did not say food or shoes or clothes," Matt Jones noted.
A trailer and other clips from the documentary are already available on Poverty Resolutions' website (www.povertyresolutions.org) ahead of the release of the completed film. For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Michelle Miller at info ( @ ) povertyresolutions dot org dot
About Poverty Resolutions: Poverty Resolutions (www.povertyresolutions.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the eradication of dollar-a-day poverty in Haiti. The team aims to educate Americans regarding poverty and the needs of the poor, while also delivering sustainable solutions to Haitians through education and micro-loan programs. Established in 2010, Poverty Resolutions is incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania and is committed to using 100 percent of public donations for programs designed to assist people in need.