Pere Fritz Lafontant, leaving church at Kay Epin, Haiti.
January 27, 2013
“As an artist, you are a representative human being—you have to believe in that in order to give your life over to that effort to create something of value. You’re not doing it only to satisfy your own impulses or needs; there is a social imperative. If you solve your problems and speak of them truly, you are of help to others, that’s all. And it becomes a moral obligation.” p103
“When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgment of the gift you have been given, which is the life itself. And I think the world tends to forget that this is the ultimate significance of the body of work each artist produces. That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.” p137
—Stanley Kunitz in conversation with Genine Lentile, ‘The Wild Braid: a poet reflects in a century in the garden’,(Norton, 2007)
A remarkable man, Pere Lafontant, and the people who work around him, is just such an artist that Kunitz describes in his conversation with Genine Lentine. Lafontant’s organizations, Zanmi Lasante and Zanmi Agrikol have slowly turned the central Haitian plateau away from becoming an environmental and human disaster zone. There is much work that still needs to be done, but the changes over the past 40 years are miraculous.