“Poto Mitan will be a valuable tool. Indeed, the value of the film for advocacy and education results not just from the quality of the story telling but also from the quality of the film itself. People will want to see this film, and be open to demanding change from the policymakers.”
Poto Mitan is a tool for raising Haiti's profile, raising standards for media about Haiti, raising awareness, raising funds, and raising people's voices to demand change.
Raising Haiti’s Profile
Especially since the U.S. has been consumed bya very real economic crisis, coverage of the U.S.’s oldest neighbor has been swept aside. Very few people in the U.S. know about the Haitian Revolution or the significant role Haiti played in U.S. history. Former slaves from Haiti helped fight for American Independence, and the Haitian Revolution ended Napoleon’s ambitions in the New World - so he sold half of the current U.S. at a bargain in the Louisiana Purchase. Haiti’s role in the end of slavery has earned it a place in world history that demands greater respect and attention - and principled solidarity. We hope to increase the attention given to this historic people and to change how it is understood.
Haiti’s image in the media is invariably negative. Stories tend to highlight the violence, the extreme poverty, or extreme fallout from disasters within a frame that Haiti is “the poorest country in the hemisphere.” Haiti’s people, especially women - particularly of Haiti’s poor majority - are usually treated like props or as victims. They are rarely portrayed as who they are: real people... with histories, with hopes, with analyses, and with experience trying to improve their situation. Working with the women in the film, we have made a commitment to underscore their humanity and dignity while helping them tell their own story.
Every screening we have attended has inspired lively, engaged, critical dialogue about the realities of Haiti’s poor majority - particularly for women - and about our connection. We would like to provide teachers, professors, faith communities and grassroots groups - women’s organizations, labor unions, solidarity networks, civil rights groups, etc. - this tool to inspire your own conversations. Very soon we will have an education toolkit, designed for professors to integrate Poto Mitan into women’s studies, global studies, sociology, black studies, and anthropology classes. Check out our links page for materials.
In addition, we are planning a film screening/speaking tour accompanied by the women in the film. We hope accompanying roundtable discussions will involve students, women’s groups, labor unions, civil rights activists, and Haiti solidarity organizations. Our main goal is to spark dialogue betweenthe Haitian women and U.S. groups, to encourage an exchange of organizing strategies between activists, and to build bridges between labor, immigrants rights, and women’s groups.
Raising Funds For Haiti
Eighteen groups addressing justice for workers, women, and Haiti have endorsed Poto Mitan and are committed to useit upon completion. Partners of the film, including Haiti Reborn, Dwa Fanm, and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, plan to use the film to draw new people into organizing for causes such as structural reform of international development, and a sizable increase in Haiti’s minimum wage. In recent fundraisers, we have shared proceeds with groups for immediate hurricane relief. Upon completion and once our expenses have been paid, ALL proceeds will be donated to nine grassroots organizations in Haiti working with women.
Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees calls Poto Mitan a“powerful tool for self-empowerment, discussion and action.” Haiti Reborn /Quixote Center will be organizing a series of house party campaigns, empowering community leaders to host private screenings of Poto Mitan, with a goal to sign up new people to grassroots efforts such as debt cancellation, Jobs for Justice, structural reform of international development, etc. We hope to inspire thousands of people to take action - write, call, or e-mail policy makers on timely issues. In addition to our educational toolkit, we are working on an organizing toolkit that individual activists can download and use in your own screenings in your community. Inspired by Robert Greenwald’s successful grassroots distribution methods, we will create a screening headquarters, empowering groups to host screenings of the film in your communities easily and affordably.