Having been within 20 miles of the Haiti border myself last year, it was very obvious that when the news of the earthquake came through they wouldn’t have the resources to try to deal with such a major catastrophe in such a poor region of the World. We were discussing this in Charlies a few weeks ago and talking about the images on the television, and Shaky came up with the idea of having a fundraising event both at Charlies and the Craic n´Ceol one night. Jon said that he would cut his hair, Widgeon was shaving his beard, all those connected with the two bars were donating their salary on the night, and I said that I would give 50% of the bar takings on the night to the fund.
I am writing this the day after the event, and with everyone´s help we raised €5,100 and had a great night as well. We would all like to thank everyone that supported the event, and there are people in Haiti (who we will never meet) that will have a tent, food, clean water etc., because of all your generosity.
It was great to see all the musicians from both bars, and a few other bars as well, on the stage together for the last few songs, and the atmosphere was electric. After the bar closed there were 6 or 7 of us that stayed back for a quiet drink, and I was telling the story of the taxi driver that drove Anna and myself from Pattaya to Bangkok, a distance of 150km for €6. The drive took 2 1/2 hours, and he had to return to Pattaya again as well. He drove us in a brand new Toyota car, and if he got the car and the petrol for nothing, he would still have had only €1.20 per hour for his time. Don’t worry, we gave him a tip bigger than the fare, but the point is that it shows how far €5,100 will go in countries like that, and Haiti is much poorer than Thailand, and the money we and you are sending over there is worth the equivalant of €1,000,000 approx. if you compare the price of a Western taxi for the same distance, and do the maths.
On a slightly different note, I was lucky enough to have spent some of my early adult days with very little, and even no money at times, and I was also lucky enough to have spent some time living in countries which were as poor as Haiti. The reason I say this, is because a gentleman walked in to the Craic the other night and started a conversation with me. He told me that he was a Publican in Ireland and then told me he just got a text that day to say that a good friend of his had commited suicide. I had just read that the rate of suicide had jumped something like 35% in the last year or two in Ireland. He then went on to tell me that his friend was in his 60s, built up a good business, borrowed to build property, credit crunch, and was heading to go bust, like many… this is why I say I was lucky to be poor at one time in my life. I know what it is to have nothing, and I’m not one bit afraid of it. The worst that can happen in Ireland is that you get a coucil house, the dole, and despite the fact that you won’t be going on foreign holidays, there are thousands and millions fighting to stay alive in Haiti who would kill for the worst that can happen in Ireland. The problem is people are putting this image, and believing themselves they are, who they portray themselves to be, by what car they drive or where they live, and when something goes wrong they are ashamed and embarassed. Suicide is desperate sad, and believe me, I know, but depression I can understand, even if badly, but why could this man’s friend not see that he was the same man he was last year and for the last 40? He lost his money, but not his ability, and he wasn’t going to be cold or hungry. We know the answer is “status”, but that’s why I was so lucky, and it’s a pity that more people don’t realise the difference between who they are and what they have.
Anyway, enough ranting. Must go to work – and a million thanks again to everyone for last night!