The Conversation: Haiti Earthquake Survivors Get a 'Soapbox'

On quake anniversary, filmmaker gives Haitians a new opportunity to be heard.

Jan. 12, 2010— -- Exactly one year after the earthquake in Haiti toppled buildings and caused a monumental human tragedy, Haitian survivors are now speaking out about their country in a remarkable new way.

Filmmaker Scott Kirschenbaum has invited everyday Haitians to stand up and share their thoughts on subjects ranging from disease prevention to rebuilding to Haitian arts and culture. Through his film, "A Soapbox in Haiti," Kirschenbaum hopes to reconnect Haitians with their country's long tradition of public speaking.

"There's a yearning to speak and be heard," Kirschenbaum, told ABC's David Muir on the Conversation. "So much over the last year has been about telling Haiti what to think and what to feel. And to me, the Haitians that I've met are some of the most passionate people in the world, and they just want to speak their piece."

The soapbox that participants stand on is itself made from pieces of earthquake rubble, and Kirschenbaum relies on word-of-mouth to bring new voices.

On this one-year anniversary, Kirschenbaum is hosting a daylong soapbox event in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. But he said he has already heard many memorable and moving stories. One young man, an aspiring hip hop artist, stands out in particular.

"He stood outside and gave his speech 11 times because he was determined to have his message be perfectly clear to the world," Kirschenbaum said. "To me, to do that and be so determined to make it as beautiful and powerful as it can be, I think that is what this project's all about."

We hope you'll watch today's Conversation for more on the soapbox project.

For more Conversation videos, click here.

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