By Jill C. Lafferty
Many units of the disaster relief shelter manufactured by Economy Tent International, Miami, Fla., have made their way to Haiti through individuals and organizations involved in humanitarian aid. The shelter’s design includes wheelchair accessibility, which proved especially important for one prominent earthquake victim.
Although born into poverty and blind since infancy, violinist Romel Joseph is one of Haiti’s most accomplished musicians. Having trained at The Juilliard School in New York, Joseph returned to Haiti and founded a children’s music school in 1991. The school has already been rebuilt once due to fire. Joseph was on the school’s third floor when the Jan. 12 earthquake hit and was trapped in the rubble for 18 hours with crushed legs and a broken left hand (he says that he rehearsed concertos in his mind to withstand the pain). His wife and unborn child were killed, and his school lay in ruins.
Upon rescue, he was taken to the U.S. Embassy and flown to Miami for surgery (he holds duel U.S. and Haiti citizenships). The BBC began documenting his story and connected the musician with Economy Tent. Joseph returned to Haiti in April, and Economy Tent donated a shelter for him to use in his personal recovery and as he rebuilds his school.