Visual Arts — June 16, 2015 12:50 — 0 Comments

A Moment with David Pierre-Louis

On June 25th, the historic Neptune Theater, as part of their Nights at the Neptune, will premier Kenbe Fem, a documentary about Seattle club owner David Pierre-Louis’s rebuilding efforts in his native home, Haiti, in the wake of the 2010 devastating earthquake that killed an estimated 250,000 people. The showing will include live music by Naomi Wachira and Black Stax.

I had a chance to talk briefly with the film’s principle figure, who aims to create a thriving community center on his mother’s property in Haiti as a functioning institution and a symbol of what dedication and hard work can mean to a country in anguish. The film, says Pierre-Louis, is meant to inspire the world’s Haitian diaspora to come back and lend a hand.


Simply put, what is your mission with this project? 

The vision is to bring awareness to some of the work I’ve done in Haiti and also to be an inspiration for the Haitian diaspora to play an active role in redeveloping Haiti as a whole. But specifically, I’m working to develop my mother’s property in Port-Au-Prince into a community resource center, and the documentary tracks the first phase of this.

What is the work you’ve been doing?

The work is geared toward the initial response after the earthquake in 2010 that killed over 250,000 people. We’ve raised funds to help provide temporary shelter, built some makeshift clinics, installed a couple water filtration systems, provided food for a community.

How have you raised money for all these efforts?

Most of the money was raised after the earthquake through donations at my bar LUCID and various other fundraising efforts.

Often residents can be wary of people coming in to “help” or change or “fix” their community. How have the Haitian people responded to your hands-on work?

I’m Haitian and finding my mother was my initial reason to leave the U.S. and go to Haiti. The response from the Haitian people has been very positive because we were able to respond quickly and provide support. The vision for rebuilding my mother’s property into a community resource center has been received very well, too.

I’ve applied for the Yunus Accelerator program and, if accepted, I’ll spend 10 weeks in Haiti to further develop my vision and begin the various phases of execution.

What thoughts ran through your head as you landed in Haiti to begin your search for your mother?

I didn’t hear from my mother for 36-plus hours after a devastating earthquake that killed a quarter million people. I flew into the Dominican Republic, caught a bus for 6 hours and walked into the dark until I found her. I just hoped I’d see her again – and, thankfully, I did.


Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

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