OUR PAST & OUR PRESENT
In the first few years, between 1999-2000, when we first envisioned this concept, it was an enthusiastic and fairly ambitious idea to create a place where the history of genocide by the destruction of the First Peoples of the Americas then through the trans-Atlantic slave trade where it could be relived physically in an interactive experience named “The Memory Village” (follow this link to see details about the Memory Village and the building of the model as well as a virtual slide show tour at the end of the site). The intention was to create a space where one could live the history personally in order to create a space of memory and healing, which is the mission of the foundation at its core.
The Foundation purchased some of the projected land for this village between 2003-2009 with its own funds. Then in 2006 we wrote, created, produced and acted in the historical drama/mime titled “3 Innocents and a Spirit” that reflects this same intention as the Memory Village of personally living the history of the transatlantic slave trade with the idea of searching for reconciliation, healing and reparations. We performed the play across the US in 2006 and in 2007 and in 2008 we went to Canada as well. We continue to perform the play at the center for our visiting groups although now it is expanded to include members of our team who have turned out to be talented actors!
In 2009 a mock-up village was completed which today remains in a glass case in the Foundation center with the extraordinatry artist Carl Guerrier standing next to his handiwork. Here are some of the miniature models that he so authentically crafted:
After the devastating earthquake in January 2010 and due to land conflict in the area where the village was envisioned to be built, the Foundation has decided to continue the intention of “The Memory Village” by using the village model to describe, in a virtual guided journey, for participants in the groups who come to learn at the Foundation center/home instead of building the village itself in the hope of revealing new truths and perspectives gained towards transforming ourselves, our communities, the earth and thus the greater world.
*A dream retained: build a 1/2 life-size simulation of a slave ship on pillars in the ravine next to the N a Sonje Foundation center where no land claims can be made, no water diverted, and no one can board without a plank when visitors curious about the experience can dare to delve into the depths of this historical moment of suffering by the ancestors.
It is with great chagrin and indignation that at the updating of our website, there is still a terribly distorted version of this idea twisted by a journalist who actually did visit and take an interview with Ron and Carla Bluntschil but when this journalist, from Denver, wrote the story his own need for sensationalism and misplaced state and/or national arrogance, perverted the original idea. He totally missed the purpose and did not represent the intention of healing but rather spun it as an idea of Ron and Carla instead as the original Haitian vision that it was! It has been picked up by other perverted sites that are too embarrassing to site here but suffice to say that we are doing all we can short of filing a defamation claim through legal means to have these sites removed.
In 2015 we celebrated 5 years together with friends at the center and appeared on National Television in Haiti March 25th.
Coincidentally, March 25th, the very same day as the publication of the N a Sonje Foundation was named “International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade” Rodney Leon, is the distinguished architect also just happens to be Haitian. “25 March 2015 – This year’s commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade will have particular significance at United Nations Headquarters in New York, where six years of work to establish a permanent memorial to honour the victims pays off with the unveiling today. Designed by Rodney Leon, an American architect of Haitian descent who was chosen in 2013 as the winner of an international competition attracting a total of 310 entries from 83 countries, ‘The Ark of Return’ honours the memories of the estimated 15 million men, women and children who were victims of the largest forced migration in history.”
From his website: “The Ark of Return” memorial is a sacred space that is designed to psychologically and spiritually transport visitors to a place where acknowledgement, education, reflection and healing can take place. The memorial’s exterior form is constructed in a fashion to reflect the image of a vessel or ship in acknowledgement of the millions of African people transported on slave ships to different parts of the world during the “Middle Passage.” Images of maps depicting the “Triangular Slave Trade” influenced the use of the triangle as a primary element in designing the memorial’s shape. The memorial is conceptually also organized in three parts and visitors are meant to pass through “The Ark of Return” to intimately experience three primary elements on the interior space. Learn about his memorial to an African American burial ground
These were the 5 candles that were lit during our ceremony by those bringing good wishes of future of continuing to bring light to the darkness, hope and healing to those with ears, eyes and hearts. They remained lit throughout the evening in spite of the wind.
In 2016 we again celebrated 6 years.