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Dorchester resident to hold gala event to support Haiti

Kassmin Williams | 12/24/2013, 6 a.m.
Boston resident Leah Beidler couldn’t walk away from the hardship she saw Haitian children dealing with after living and working ...
Making Roots youth workers play with children in Haiti. The faith-based organization works in Passe Catabois and Cite Soleil, and will hold a fundraising gala at the Mission Bar and Grill on Jan. 4 to support its efforts.

Boston resident Leah Beidler couldn’t walk away from the hardship she saw Haitian children dealing with after living and working in Haiti for one year as a teacher for four adopted children.

“Being present there just kind of gave me a different perspective of how to walk in the world,” Biedler said.

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Children in Haiti learn to weave with instruction from two Making Roots youth workers. The two youth workers spent a week learning weaving skills and taught four weeks of workshops to children.

In 2008, Beidler and her sister Caitlin Beidler partnered with Haitian organization UEBH, which connected them with a church in a village north of Port-au-Prince, Passe Catabois, and formed the faith-based organization, Making Roots.

The organization operates in Passe Catabois and Cité Soleil, and aims to improve the lives of Haitians.

Making Roots is hosting its fifth annual Holiday Gala fundraiser on Jan. 4 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Mission Bar and Grill to raise funds to support its summer programs in Haiti.

A $20 donation includes access to live art and music, a silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and one bar beverage.

The organization runs a summer camp named Camp Hope, which supports students through its Planting project; creates artwork with the two communities through its Community Murals project; and provides support in times of emergency with its Mercy Relief project.

Beidler called the summer a “quiet time” in Haiti.

“I don’t think the kids are getting the enrichment they should be getting for development for mental, emotional and physical development,” Beidler said.

According to her, Cité Soleil and Passe Catabois are two different environments — Passe Catabois suffers from poverty, while Cité Soleil is plagued with gang violence.

“It’s a very hard place. It has [about] 32 zones. It’s very much like each zone has a gang, so it’s very hard to transcend into other zones or even reach certain people with some of the gang activity,” Beidler said.

When Making Roots started in 2008, Camp Hope was a three-week program and serviced about 60 children.

Today, the camp is four weeks and provides youth workshops to about 170 children.

During the session, the children receive one meal and participate in youth workshops that include theater, art, sports and music.

The organization’s Community Mural project reach out to the community for participation, and aim at uniting different groups in art. This has been particularly successful in Cité Soleil.

“We did a mural and it was really cool because it drew out all different people from different walks. We had pastors. We had children. We had gang leaders. We had gang members. We had elderly people,” Beidler said. “Everyone was working together for one project for the neighborhood and it wasn’t necessarily because anybody was getting anything out of it, it was jus they wanted to be there.”

The Mercy Relief project operates to support Haiti in times on need.

For example, during the Cholera outbreak, which started in 2010, Making Roots raised funds for a clinic in Haiti that was running short on supplies.

The Planting project supports 12 students in Haiti, financing their education.

Beidler said she hopes that the volunteer-run organization can support more students in the future.

Beidler, who has lived in Dorchester for the past eight years, is also looking for more ways to get rooted in Boston.

“I’d love to see how we can be deeper rooted with some [Haitian-based] organizations to see what they’re doing in Haiti, to see if there’s potential of a partnership or even resources,” she said.