By Mark Leon Goldberg, UN Dispatch
February 14, 2011
With a win at the Grammy Awards last night, indy rock band The Arcade Fire took one great stride toward the mainstream. (Which leaves me hopeful for the mainstream. Arcade Fire are great!).
Fans already know this, but Arcade Fire are long time advocates for Haiti. One song on their Grammy award winning album is even titled Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), which refers to this book about Paul Farmer’s quest to transform global health policy through the work of his NGO Partners in Health in Haiti.
One NGO supported by the band is The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. As the name would suggest, the group advocates the Haitian government and the international community on behalf of justice sector reform, human rights, and against electoral malfeasance like the kind that occurred in November. The band’s homepage links to a funding appeal for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti to for legal efforts against Jean Claude ”Baby Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s longtime strongman who inexplicably returned to the country last month.
I’ve come to know the NGO through its groundbreaking (and heartbreaking) reports that draw attention to the epidemic of rape that is plaguing Haiti’s displaced persons camps. I encourage everyone to read their report Our Bodies Are Still Trembling, from which this video seems to be drawn from that report: Haitian Women Testify.
So will the band’s now very mainstream stardom mean that these kinds of issues and questions will receive greater attention here in the United States (and Canada–the band’s from Montreal)? Hard to tell. For now, though, it’s nice to see the band using their platform to support grassroots NGOs like this.