The Haiti earthquake of 2010 highlighted the need to unite for the sake of young people traumatized in its aftermath. Full-Circle Learning provided art therapy for young children in its wake.Soon afterward, theMeridian Foundation andNational Geographic invited Full-Circle Learning to design a project for girls abused in refugee camps. The girls learned to comfort one another and to practice listening skills when there were no psychologists available. They used writing skills, visual arts and photography to tell their stories to one another.
Here, a Liberian girl holds a copy of the anthology that resulted from the Haitian girls’ efforts, Girls United: Haiti Through OurEyes. The book inspired students in
multiple countries. The Girls United Clubs continue to offer girls a chance to counsel one another to stay in school, to learn skills that benefit society, and to become resilient to challenges.
Girls in some countries eventually saw their Girls United poems on the UnitedNations Foundation website.
The Girls United was one of threeFull-Circle Learning programs in Haiti.
Teacher training in Port au Prince also brought awareness of new strategies to teachers from multiple schools. When we emailed teacher educator Linda Gershuny after the earthquake, she explained she was huddled in a tent in a park, with children hovering around her. Amazingly, her computer still worked.
FCL put out the call for comfort. Preschoolers from China’s Greentown School system immediately sent pictures of their songs and “blessings for Haiti” to reassure the children in the park that others far away cared about them.
On a later trip, FCL representatives traveled far up the mountain to the town of Avril du’Bois, where the Curelly family had opened a school for the children of subsistence farmers. The town had not had a local school for a generation. Combating illiteracy, the Curellys sought to change that.
After a Full-Circle Learning training workshop, the teachers used their skills to inspire the parents and children to work together for the common good.Here, teacher Christelle children taught their parents to plant trees on the edge of crop rows, to prevent erosion.
The teachers and learners in the village school sent valuable wisdom exchanges to other schools around the world in the years that followed. One project came as a challenge from the teachers in Piru, California as they thought about how to prepare their community for natural disaster. They taught earthquake prevention to their families, guests and neighbors. In Haiti, a hurricane had just victimized relatives and countrymen in nearby towns, so the Haitian school responded with a project to demonstrate how to put hurricane clips on rooftops. Below children work on a deforestation project as others conduct their“humanity circle” in the classroom.