Cuban Creole choir brings solace to Haiti’s children

The 10-piece choir, Desandann, spent two month-long tours in Haiti as part of Cuba's relief project following the January earthquake.

Working with the Haitian cultural ministry, Desandann ran workshops in displaced persons camps, as well as performing for the public in specially arranged concerts.

"When we arrived at the airport we saw everything destroyed, many people sleeping in tents," says choir leader Emilia Diaz Chavez.

"The suffering of the population caused us a lot of distress.

"But when we sang to the people we felt that we were helping in some small way. They would smile and applaud and I think that helped them."

Haitian heritage

The tour had a special significance for Desandann, as the group's members are themselves of Haitian origin.

"We are Cuban by birth but some of our ancestors, grandparents and parents, were born in Haiti," says Ms Diaz Chavez.

"Cuba has long been a very popular destination for Haitians who go there to work in the sugar industry, cutting down sugar cane.

"That's how our own families came to arrive in Cuba. And they taught us all the Haitian customs, they made sure we knew all about our Haitian heritage."

Choir member Fidel Romero Miranda says their heritage meant there was special connection with the Haitians they met.

"We were born in Cuba and now we've brought music to Haiti, music taught to us by our ancestors, and I think that's been very interesting and moving for the people in Haiti," he says.

"They accepted it with much happiness and strong emotion."

Desandann sing in Creole, a fusion of African, French and other languages, which is Cuba's second most spoken language after the official Spanish.

It is also the most commonly spoken language in Haiti.

Original and full article on BBC News website

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