Haiti Blog Update #4 – 16 February 2010

(Photos of all these events are all coming, but internet connections are so bad here we haven’t been able to post…please keep checking, but we may have to wait until we’re home this Friday. Some links are attached in this post…and we haven’t even been able to view them yet.)


We were invited to a Vodou Ceremony the evening before the Silent Artists Procession and it seemed appropriate. Women in white danced and chanted around the poto mitan while the drummers played and the crowd sang along. A woman who was mounted by Danballa was covered with a sheet and fed honey. It was all quite beautiful.

Artist Procession Sunday 7 February – Part of what Zanmi Lakay did in Jacmel was to help organize and sponsor the silent artists’ procession. Guy and I presented the idea to Amanou of Troupe Flambeau, and to Blaise, president of G-27 (an organization of 27 paper maché troupes), and liked the idea of something silent that was NOT a party. The artists decided all of the details including the funeral band that we took up a collection for at Hotel Cyvadier and we received more money than we asked for…so we told Blaise to give it out as needed to the artists. Cine Institute students were videotaping the entire time, and I was shooting pictures. All of the children from ACFFC lined up at the start to have their faces painted with black and white dots, and others followed suit including Guy. Everyone wore a black strip of cloth on their heads, arms, or around their necks. The crowd, including Jacmel’s mayor, wove its way through the town passing many collapsed buildings with people lining the streets or joining us. It lasted about 2 ½ hours ending at the Jacmel Cemetery where we buried all of the banners and black strips of cloth in a grave. It was beautiful.

The New York Times published a story along with some of my photos in it (A Carnival Artist Without a Carnival)

Mural-Monday 8 February-The children began a mural on three walls of the Foundation building in the morning and finished it before the end of the day. We were in and out because two planes came in that day with food, and every time we came back to unload the hundreds of pounds of rice and beans and pasta and tomato sauce, there was much progress. The walls are now full of solid color and covered with original artwork by the children. Blaise (brother of Blaise above), one of the artisans in Jacmel employed by ACFFC, oversaw the project and we provided the tools (assisted by some paint and brushes visiting photographer Andy Levin brought in through the Dominican Republic). When people come to visit, they will be greeted instantly by the children’s beautiful work, and it gives an entirely new vibe to the daily happenings at the Center.

Fête/Slideshow/Tent Giveaway at ACFFC Wednesday 10 February – The Zanmi Lakay presents ACFFC’s Earthquake Recovery Project fet was a wonderful event culminating in a slideshow of the kids’ work and then my photos documenting all of our activities together including a field trip to the beach, the painting of the mural, the Trésor video shoot by Ciné Institute (go to this link for the final video), picking up and distribution of food donated by Go Ministries and delivered by volunteer pilots, and the Photography Workshop. We provided popcorn and soda, and then at the very end of the party each family received a tent. (It turned out that a friend and co-worker of my sister, Allison Davis, was one of the volunteer pilots so I was asked what I wanted and the results were 60 tents. This was a major organizational feat with many people helping with their time and money, including Craig McAllister, the tent and delivery companies, Allison, everyone who donated, and the pilots. Our boxes of tents were the only thing that came in on that airplane except for a care package for one of the airport workers…who were also great.) Much thanks to our Zanmi Lakay/ACFFC family members including Judy Hoffman (the Executive Director/Mother/energetic woman extraordinaire of ACFFC in FL), Georges Metelus (director of ACFFC in Haiti), Allison (one of our Board members in SF), Matou, Evens, Madame Coteas, Andy and his crew of photographers, Guy (translator/driver/teacher/mover and shaker), and of course all of the kids and the town of Jacmel.

We did a bit of collaborating with the Ciné Institute film school in Jacmel. Please check out their website if you haven’t yet. A couple of the film students came to ACFFC to interview five of the kids in our Photography Workshop for another article with the NYTimes. Unfortunately the beautiful footage won’t be in the article because we couldn’t get it uploaded and translated in time, but they did a fabulous job, were so patient, and gave us the footage so we could translate for the article.

The Tresor video of the Earthquake Song is finished and posted on Ciné Institute’s website. The students and townspeople loved their song as do we. Often I found myself singing it out of the blue. Please check it out-we are so proud of all of them. The boys in the band are all sponsored by Zanmi Lakay and continue to need help with school, rent, and living expenses, and we helped them by providing funds and food, and the collaboration with the video shoot. We are also currently trying to buy a moto for Wilky – he’s the one that makes the crochet hats we sell at our Ti Machés – as it would help him immensely to use it getting around and as a taxi driver to make money.

We had our short Cite Soleil Photography Workshop yesterday and today. The first thing we did was show and critique all of the photos from last June displayed on a computer with a round of applause after each student’s work. This long term situation with the photo students isn’t working because they love it too much and show so much talent that they need much more instruction and support. This time our theme is Healing Haiti and six young children used disposable film camera while the rest of the kids are taking turns using digital cameras for the first time. They absolutely love it and we have two very strong stand outs in the class who went all the way down to the Palace and National Cathedral taking beautiful photos representing their national pride. We edited them today in front of the class and the other students were in awe. We did some running around yesterday with Jean Ristil and friends buying food and supplies. Today we danced and had visitors and handed out food bags and all the things we bought yesterday for the kids and the end of class. It was all very short, but beautiful. They understood that this trip was different because of the earthquake, but we also had to promise them that we would be back much more often so they could continue studying photography. Some truly want to be journalists and we want them to fulfill their dreams.

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