Tuesday, February 14, 2006


The February Issue of the "Intowner" lists this fundraiser to benefit four Hurricane Katrina survivor families.

Saturday, February 25, 2006 7pm-2am:

The Petworth neighborhood’s Sweet Mango Café
3701 New Hamp. Ave., (at the corner of Georgia Ave. directly across from the Petworth Metro station)
Washington, DC will be hosting the African-American Holiday Association’s

“The City That Care Forgot” HOODOO VOODOO MARDI GRAS BALL fundraiser
at Sweet Mango Café from 7:00 pm until 2:00 am. Donations and ticket sales are $30.00 and up.

As New Orleans kicks off its 2006 Mardi Gras season celebrating “the greatest free show on earth” for the past 150 years, two-thirds of “The Big Easy” population is still misplaced.

The fundraiser will directly benefit four Hurricane Katrina survivor families: photographer, political and community activist Babatunji Ahmed and his family of seven; Mr. and Mrs. Edward Brown (deacon and general contractor) and their family of eight; Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Akinlana (artist) and their family of eight; and Mr. Dean Shapiro (author and journalist) and his family of four. All the families were displaced when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

The event will also feature a raffle with prizes of original art, handcrafted jewelry, collectibles, rare books, CDs, wearable art, as well as lunch and dinner packages. The attire is cocktail or “godly” costume in the spirit of Mardi Gras celebrations in “The City That Care Forgot.”

“If you are from the city that gave birth to jazz and created the first original cuisine, ‘Creole,’ you know the importance of giving love, hope, delicious food and drinks, a perfect party, a little lagniappe (something extra) and monetary assistance to your families and friends. It is highly important that each one of us who wasn’t displaced must assist in his/her own individual way,” says producer of the event Misty Brown.

“They dropped us off on the overpass. It was mud on one side and the military on the other. Thanks to the generosity of former Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith who opened up his home and provided a place for me to live, regroup and network for a few months. I was able to regain some sense of sanity out of this horrific man-made disaster that resulted into 80 percent of [our] beloved city under water. We must never forget that Hurricane Katrina was mainly wind damage,” Babatunji said. He recently returned to New Orleans to begin the rebuilding process.

“Everywhere we went in Louisiana and Mississippi, they blocked the exits,” according to Edward Brown, who has temporarily relocated to Missouri City, Texas to live with his wife’s family. “We wanted to come and reside in Washington, DC with my sister Misty but were informed that it would be a futile attempt to commute long-distance to work repeatedly on our damaged house--bleaching, tearing down walls, checking wiring and plumbing.” They are still waiting on settlement of their insurance claim.

The Akinlana family has been residing in the Washington metro area since their evacuation from New Orleans in September. “I have returned to N’Awlins on several occasions to check and work on my house. It’s important to keep the grass cut. During the holiday school break I took the whole family with me,” stated Marcus Akinlana. His exceptional original mixed-media art will be on view for sale.

“New Orleans will never be the same, even though Mardi Gras will be held this year. Mostly, it will be celebrated by the locals because there aren’t any hotel rooms for tourists. It is a very eerie feeling to drive around the city and see the traffic lights working, but no lights on in the houses or businesses. Most of the supermarkets or stores like Wal-Mart have not reopened and a majority of the shops in the French Quarter are closing because there are no tourists to support them,” said Dean Shapiro who lives across the Mississippi River in Algiers. He never received his FEMA money, even though, four other people who lived with him got theirs and moved on.

An event for the youth, “God Bless The Child” Mardi Gras Youth Party & Parade Fundraiser will be held on Tue., Feb. 28 from 3 to 7 pm. Eleven-year-old Brian Tucker, grandson of Babatunji Ahmed, like so many other displaced children, commented, “I miss New Orleans. I love New Orleans. I want to go back home.”

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