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Concert supports Haitian efforts

Six months after the earthquake that flattened Haiti, the reconstruction work goes on, as does the effort to raise money for it. On Friday night, Canadian Idol finalist Shane Wiebe and his wife Angela perform a concert to benefit the Foundation for International Development Assistance.

The Waterloo charitable organization supports agriculture in Haiti through co-operatives. FIDA also operates Wall’s International Guest House in Port-au-Prince, which hosts tourists, mission teams and adoptive parents. The building collapsed in January’s earthquake,  killing Elmira nurse Yvonne Martin.

Canadian Idol finalist Shane Wiebe and his wife Angela perform a benefit concert Friday.

Alexis Barkman, FIDA’s promotions coordinator and granddaughter of FIDA founders Jack and Anne Wall, was in Haiti with her mother, Betsy Wall, when the earthquake happened.

“It was an absolutely surreal experience,” she said. “The buildings just disintegrated.”

At the same time FIDA is rebuilding its guest house, using funds from the visitors who are staying in the one undamaged building and temporary shelters, it continues to raise funds for agricultural development. FIDA employs a staff of 30 Haitians who provide local services.

Barkman explained that her grandfather was one of the founders of International Child Care, which in the 1970s undertook a national tuberculosis control program. He learned that children were getting tuberculosis because their parents couldn’t afford to feed them properly, and began promoting agricultural cooperatives.

Shane and Angela Wiebe live in Abbotsford, B.C., where Shane grew up, but a cross-Canada tour in support of their latest album is bringing them to the area. Angela grew up in Stratford and is a good friend of the Wall family, so a benefit concert was a natural fit. Shane’s name will be familiar to fans of Canadian Idol; he was a top five finalist in the show’s second season.

The FIDA concert takes place July 16 at 7 p.m. at the Great Hall, Luther Village in Waterloo. Admission is free, with donations going to support agricultural development in Haiti. For more information, call 519-886-9520.

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