Odette Roy Fombrun delivered a dynamic and inspirational presentation to an assembled audience of some 200 members of the Haitian diaspora in Bayside, New York. She was the featured keynote speaker at the annual educational forum hosted and sponsored by EMG Health, Fondation Lucienne Deschamps, and Health First, and organized by Mrs. Elsy Guibert. Other participants included the poet Michele Voltaire Marcelin and the singer Jocelyn Clermont Dorisme. Also in attendance was noted radio and TV host Carl Fombrun and the dance troup of Perfection Dance Students.
In her presentation, titled « Konbitism: From Theory to Action », Mrs. Fombrun spoke of two major challenges facing Haiti-rampant Poverty and political Division. She identified the major causes of poverty as rooted in the dependency of Haiti on foreign aid. She also focused on the historical division of Haiti into two main social classes: The urban class and the rural class, whose cultures are vastly different. The rural class, she said, identifies with its African roots, whereas the uban class identifies with its French ancestry. Both are joined today by a 3rd grouping in the diaspora that identifies more with American values. The result has been a set of conflicting interests that is today manifest in the Caribbean nation’s paralyzed political system.
The solution, Mrs. Fombrun proposed, lies in the adoption of KONBITISM, a movement she pioneered, that favors cross-sector collaboration in the development of local, regional, and national projects. In her remarks, she emphasized the valuable role the Haitian diaspora can play in stimulating ‘Touris Lakay’ —a form of tourism rooted in re-investments in Haiti designed to identify, develop, and promote cultural tourism at the local and regional level. She ended her talk to a standing ovation, with a rousing call for making of Haiti the Cultural and Historical epicenter of the Caribbean!