Global Sites: Haiti

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Haitian Students Inspire Hope

Recent projects in Haiti have included a training for a school in the mountaintop village Bois de Avril (April Woods). The community of parents, teachers and villagers quickly embraced a vision of service and transformation in this town. In the first service project, students learned counting, sorting, colors and recycling by cleaning up their community and turning trash into mosaics to promote cleanliness. 

Meanwhile, in the city of Port au Prince, CAFT sponsored a training for 20 educators, NGO workers and teacher trainers from various agencies. Some schools received presentations and related activities from the Girls United anthology.

Haitian Girls Create Transformation Through the Arts

The Haitian earthquake displaced many families, increasing the sources of trauma for some girls and leaving others with less than an ideal level of education to guide their goals for the future. Adolescent girls from Bolous, in the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) tent city, and in the YWCA camp at Petionvillle, had an opportunity to develop new skills as peer counselors and to explore their own capacity to create change through the arts. They learned to listen and to share their stories through narratives, poetry, visual arts and photography, presenting exhibitions for their communities in June. Their resulting anthology will serve as a global gift, to inspire arts advocacy and the concept of transformation (seeing the world through new eyes)-- for youth in Haiti and in other Full-Circle Learning communities. 

Girls United: Haiti Through Our Eyes, a project of Full-Circle Learning, the Meridian Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, involved the participation of professional artist-educators from multiple genres. Kathryn Adams and Holiday Reinhorn taught creative writing skills, John Paul Thornton gave visual arts workshops, Nadia Todres led the photography group, Actor Rainn Wilson led drama exercises, and Valerie Velazquez mentored the girls in multiple areas. Local youth served as translators and, of course, anthology contributors. (For more photos, see the photo gallery. For project details and an upcoming reading of the anthology, watch the website (

Helpers and Healers in Haiti

Haitian children began to benefit from Full-Circle Learning-inspired activities for communities in trauma in early March 2010. The research-based activities used are designed to build resiliency, address immediate PTSD needs, create a sense of community and gradually reorient identities, to help youth envision their role as the solution-givers, healers and rebuilders of the community. 

The first photo depicts the group putting together a puzzle of the world. (No one had ever seen a world map.) Afterward, the teacher discussed the many people who care about them and had sent cards and blessings, and about the doable challenge of reconstructing something, no matter how difficult. The second photos show the eagerness of children, after receiving many other activities, to express their feelings artistically. These and many other activities were led by Judy Rector and an assistant. Another team, Dr. Kira Mauseth and Dr. Tona McGuire, provided clinical support for families with PTSD at the neighboring temporary health clinic. There, the Love for Haiti volunteers worked out of the Anis Zunuzi school. Meridian Health Foundation co-sponsored the effort. Seventy-five children joined in activities and hundreds of adults and children received direct service. Plans for the next phase of capacity-building, in the form of training community workers, is underway.