Haiti and the devastation it suffered in a 2010 earthquake may seem far away in time and distance, but Upper Arlington High School freshman Annie Terez wants people to remember that the situation "remains dire."
More than 220,000 people were killed in the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. Orphanages are crowded with children who lost their parents and more than half of Haitians now live in abject poverty.
"We must help," Terez said.
She and a number of her friends are using their talents as dancers and musicians to create a ballet "to help a neighbor in need."
Haiti: Hell, Healing and Hope will be performed at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28, in the Hastings Middle School auditorium, 1850 Hastings Lane, Upper Arlington.
Terez said the theme of the three-act ballet is the heartbreak of the earthquake, its aftermath and the hope of renewal, using music, dance and images.
"Instead of paying a defined ticket price, people are asked to make a donation or give a pair of socks," she said. "Children in Haiti are given school uniforms, but they aren't given socks. They are a simple necessity that many Haitians are in need of."
For girls, new pairs of athletic socks and knee socks in white and blue are needed, as are white anklet socks with white trim. For boys, new athletic socks and dress socks of any color are needed.
Terez choreographed the ballet, which she is also directing. She dances during the third act and plays the cello in the second and third acts.
The dancers take classes with BalletMet.
BalletMet teacher Sonia Welker Orrante helped with choreography.
In addition to Terez, the performers, ages 14-16, are Upper Arlington freshmen Katie Alexander, Isabelle Durrenberger, Lindsey Shi, Mo Kleinhenze and Noelle Boyd; sophomore Olivia Ward and Upper Arlington residents Jackie Bordjadze, who is home-schooled, and Emily Lynch, who attends Columbus School for Girls.
Other student performers are Isobel Alsup, Elizabeth Chiu, Rose Colflesh, Serena Hsu, Jamila Johnson and Gabby Ross.
Terez said her aunt, Monica Terez, a nurse at OSU hospital, has been to Haiti eight times on medical mission trips.
"She is so important to me and I really admire all she has done and is continuing to do in Haiti," she said. "My next step is to go to Haiti with her. It would definitely be a life-changing experience. I hope to go with her to give the socks we collect to Haitian children."
She said the first two acts of Haiti: Hell, Healing and Hope will feature photos from her aunt's visits to Haiti.
Monica Terez said she takes her nieces camping every summer for "camp girl power."
"Last summer, Annie was talking about starting high school and wanting to present a project through dance," she said. "She is the next generation of young women and I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words."
She traveled to Haiti soon after the earthquake with a delegation from Vineyard Church of Columbus.
"We worked in a tent hospital set up on the grounds of the airport at Port Au Prince," she said. "We provided disaster relief in newborn intensive care. We had no running water and no lights, but this group of medical professionals from around the world worked like a well-oiled machine.
"You just can't imagine the poverty and pain and destitution in Haiti," Monica Terez said. "But the hope and gratitude of the people have just stunned and humbled me. These people have nothing, but they are grateful for any smile, pat on the back or bandage."
She said people who attend the benefit performance will also learn how they can help organizations serving in Haiti, either by donating or volunteering.
"You don't have to have a medical background," she said. "They need people to teach kids how to play basketball, or paint or develop a new exercise. There are so many ways to help."