It's no secret that life in Haiti can be a serious struggle. Five years ago, Monique "Maman Carole" Bartoli set up an orphanage and charitable foundation dedicated to helping children in poverty, to assisting the elderly, and to developing Haitian communities. Working in memory of her father, a noted physician famously known as the "Doctor of the Poor," Bartoli set up a community school 150 miles from Port-au-Prince. Some 450 students wait to learn secretarial skills, carpentry, and home economics, though there is not yet funding for those programs. "Some of the children are orphans," Bartoli explains in an interview from Miami, where she spends much of her time with her four children and four grandchildren. "Some others the mother lives by herself and cannot take care of her kids so she brings them over. I take care of everything for them."
Bartoli is the kind of person who inspires. She prefers to meet people face-to-face rather than over the phone, knowing personal contact is the best way to spread her enthusiasm for her native land. That's the way it happened with Cesar Becerra, a filmmaker in Los Angeles. After being hired to shoot a brief documentary about Bartoli's charitable works, Becerra was so taken with the woman and her mission that he's agreed to run her fundraising efforts in the United States.
Becerra will be hosting a fundraising party in Miami tonight. All proceeds will go to the Bartoli Foundation and its nonprofit American partner, the Haitian Resource Development Foundation.
The date of the fundraising party, the 15th, is significant. One day later Bartoli is scheduled for a hearing at which she could be deported. Immigration officials have threatened to revoke her green card, she says. Such an action, she fears, will cripple her ability to raise money to run her operation.
The fundraiser begins at 7:00 p.m. at Florida International University, Biscayne Bay Campus, 3000 NE 151st St., North Miami. Admission is $25 or $40 for couples. Contact 305-444-1932 or email@example.com. -- By Robert Andrew Powell
Billboards equal lawlessness
Billboards are just plain ugly. Do you see any on Miami Beach? Are they strewn along Coral Gables' neighborhoods? The answer is no. But there are 375 billboards hovering over Miami, 365 of them illegal. According to a county ordinance, no more than 10 should be up at all. But a little money from advertising companies can break a lot of laws. Aside from an ugly cityscape, the existence of delinquent signs along Miami expressways could be the tipping point of the city's bigger problems. Crime and poverty would disintegrate if those giant outlaw ads came down. Don't believe it? Listen to civic activists like former Miami Herald political columnist Dusty Melton and Bill Brinton, head of Citizens for a Scenic Florida. Both men will keynote the first of this year's Urban Environmental League dinner meetings. They'll set matters straight regarding all those billboards situated high over city streets and above the law. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Miami River Inn, 118 SW South River Dr. Dinner is $30, admission is free. Call 305-326-9387. -- Humberto Guida
A pair of weathered Converse high tops dangling from a power line above Biscayne Boulevard is as much a Miami mystery as a certain elected official's sexual orientation. The question lingers still -- does anybody know the meaning? Boulevard denizens stop to wonder. "It has something to do with tourism," says one lady. "It could be terrorists," a scruffy Rastaman posits. A City of Miami code enforcement officer buries her face in her hands during lunch: "It's supposed to mark where you can buy drugs." Considering that a pair of shoes hangs just outside the New Times building, we want to know more. Sneakers on cords means a person was killed, or beat up, or a new street rat earned his whiskers. One Argentine hooker agrees with a local conceptual artist. Throwing one's sneakers over an electric cord is a rite of passage. "It's like a boxer who retires -- he hangs up his gloves, he's finished." -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
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Library Lube Job
Basic mechanics are demystified
Back in the old days, men spent Saturday afternoons teaching their boys simple mechanics. That was when cars had fabulous names like Barracuda or Camaro and had engines and radiators instead of whatever computerized widgets they install on Sentras, RAV-4s, and Vigors nowadays. Although today's cars are more intimidating, the basics remain the same. It still takes less than ten minutes for anybody in a scary neighborhood to change a flat tire and you should still check your hoses regularly. Don't blame the ignorance on an increase of lady drivers. Even men seem to have forgotten that changing the oil often adds years to their chariot and prevents it from conking out at the worst possible moment. Basic Car Maintenance Tips begins at 2:00 p.m. at the South Dade Regional Library, 10750 SW 211th St. All ages and sexes are welcome to the free event. Call 305-233-8140. -- By Margaret Griffis