Bill Nathan, who appeared at Mountainfilm 2008, narrowly escaped death in Haiti this past week. Bill was part of the modern day slavery program at the Opera House, speaking about his experiences along with anti-slavery activist and author Ben Skinner. Bill played bongos to close out the show, which was awfully cathartic and life-affirming.

Bill Nathan at the MF08 Awards Ceremony

Bill Nathan at the MF08 Awards Ceremony

Ben went down to Haiti on Friday to “extract” Bill and has made it safely back to the U.S. with him. From Ben:

“In case you haven’t heard, Miles Wright and I were able to safely extract Bill Nathan, who is now at Broward Cty hospital from Haiti. The Israeli trauma surgeon at Broward said that he had seen some lucky folks since he began as a war medic in 1965, but Bill, who jumped off of the roof of his 7-story collapsing building and landed on concrete on his back, ranks up there. He is in a tremendous amount of pain, and the initial, hasty assessment is broken ribs,  abrasion of liver, torn vertebrae muscles, contusions all over. He was unconscious throughout the flight. More rigorous assessment forthcoming. He’s banged up, but he will walk, and should make a full recovery.

Bill drumming in Telluride Town Park in 2008

Bill drumming in Telluride Town Park in 2008

“As many of you know, Bill is the remarkable antislavery activist, and a survivor of child slavery himself, who runs Maison St. Joseph’s, a shelter for homeless children on Delmas 91. The shelter is completely destroyed, save for the first three floors, which will have to be demolished, where I slept on Fri night with Bill and Kez Furst, the young American nurse who kept Bill alive to this point. Kez is my new hero: she’s 22, just graduated Northeastern, and since then as volunteered as a solo nurse in Haiti treating desperately injured homeless in ravines and gutters. She treated Bill alone for three days before I showed up, along with everyone else in a 5 block radius–all with less medical supplies than the average public school nurse. I played nurses aide to her as she treated wounds at the nearest encampment. She has wisdom and talent well beyond her years.

“When I heard that Bill had been gravely injured, I contacted Miles Wright, and with Tom Shadyac’s typically selfless support, we hired a charter, loaded it with 2 Haitian surgeons, a ton of medical supplies, five sat phones, baby formula, survival gear, and flew down to extract Bill to safety. As many of you know, and as I describe in A Crime So Monstrous, Bill kept me alive by caring for me and finding me chloroquin when I was laid low by malaria in Oct 2005. So for me, this was payback; for Miles, the burly, laconic Texan and treasurer of Bill’s umbrella org Hearts With Haiti, it was simply a matter of “‘Round where I’m from, when your family’s in trouble, you show up.”

“Dan Harris of ABC News, who played a critical role getting us through the marine guard,  interviewed me at the airport, I got a chance to talk about slavery as well as Bill (who was nearly unconscious then). Dan says it should air tonight on World News Sunday.”

Hearts With Haiti seriously damaged

Hearts With Haiti seriously damaged

To connect directly to organizations working to abolish slavery in Haiti, please click on the following links. Both organizations have been seriously affected.

Hearts With Haiti

Limye Lavi

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