The Book House of Rock Hill may have been kicked off the premises, but not before it holds a fundraiser. Owner Michelle Barron received an eviction notice stating she and her 200,000 books must be out of the historic Victorian house by July and could surely use some money to help move, but this fundraiser is for Haiti. Author Jillayna Adamson will be at the Book House this Saturday, May 4, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., to sign her new book, Letters from the Other Side of Haiti: A Long Way Down.
Jillayna (pronounced Jill-anna) and her husband, Rod, have twice traveled to the village of Pignon on the northern side of Haiti. Pignon, about a 45-minute plane ride from Port-au-Prince, was far enough from the 2010 earthquake not to have been affected, but like much of the country it is a place of poverty. The couple did volunteer work there in 2011 and returned the summer of 2012. “Letters from the Other Side of Haiti” is a collection of letters Jillayna wrote during her time in Pignon. They tell the stories of their adventures there and of the people they met. Jillayna’s blog gives a glimpse of the extreme poverty and of the sad tales of some of the children she worked with, but she finds the country beautiful and the children gorgeous.
Jillayna has a background in psychology and anthropology and works as an adoption and foster care manager. Rod is an electrical engineer. While in Haiti, they worked with Haiti Home of Hope Orphanage and its feeding clinic and with Haiti Outreach. They visited Meds and Food for Kids in another town and want to bring a Medika Mamba program to Pignon to save the starving children. Medika Mamba is the Creole name for the protein-vitamin-packed peanut butter paste created by St. Louis doctor Mark Manary. A $69 supply of this paste will turn one skeletal tot into a bright-eyed, normal-weight toddler in 6-8 weeks.
Jillayna and Rod are just two people trying to make what difference they can in the world, and Haiti is the world of their choice. Jillayna said in a blog post that going to Haiti was not a culture shock for them; coming back to the US was. Coming back to “stores with endless rows of ‘stuff’ … streams of SUVs … little kids throwing tantrums over M&Ms.” Her heart is with the people of Haiti. Regarding her book, she says, “I write from a side of Haiti that I have come to love, understand and deeply respect. They suffer, but they smile, they are a beautiful, kind and passionate people. Haiti is not all about devastation or tragedy.” Proceeds from book sales will go toward helping Haiti.