Celebrating Holiday and Building Community in Haiti
Dr. E… is returning to Haiti from the 26th to the 31st of December, 2015. In June of 2014, I went to Haiti with the ArtReach Foundation as a part of their efforts to help the children and their community heal and grow from various life challenges. At this time, I am working in partnership with a most fabulous organization, The HEART School http://www.heartinhaiti.org, who hosted us on The ArtReach Foundation trip to continue the growth in the Community of Croix des Bouquets and surrounding communities.
In my short time in Haiti, I came to thoroughly enjoy the people and the culture. I saw so much opportunity, and believe that with the right direction and instruction, we can continue to help build a strong sense of community that can grow for generations. I found that with only a few days of instruction and direction, change was affected that seems to be continuing to this day. This was just a start. As always, my goal is to help kids, and what I understand is that if we can help those who guide children and help to change their environment of the better, we can make a better world for the children in it.
Before I left Haiti, I made a commitment to return, not just to the community of Croix des Bouquets, but to also work with nearby communities. I am now following through on that commitment, and we need your help. In the time that I will be there, I will be providing three workshops:
- All-Day Workshop for Educators
- All-Day Workshop for Young Adults on Mentoring and Community-Building
- Multiple Evening Empowerment & Community-Building Education for members of the community
Expenses will be incurred for each workshop, as well as other expenses, and I am seeking donations to support our efforts. Donations will go to The HEART School, where they have developed a fund specifically for this community project if you click on the links. The HEART School is a 501c3 non-profit that teaches children from Pre-K through 5th grade, and they also are continuing to develop vocational programs to teach young adults skills to help them gain employment. Your donations ARE Tax Deductible.
Or, mail a check to HEART at:
P.O. Box 554
Middletown NY, 10940
In the comments of paypal or in the check memo, please specify if there is a specific need you want to donate for.
1. Translator for a Day: The Cost of a Translator for a Day is $60. We will have 2 Translators for the work that we will be doing there for the three days. The total cost for translators will be $360.
2. Lunches/Food for Participants: A meal per day for kids and adults can be a luxury, at times, in Haiti. I think we all know that diet can be a big issue when it comes to learning. I want to make sure that everyone who comes to any workshop gets fed so that they can focus better on what we are hoping to feed their heart and soul, rather than feel hunger pangs . The cost for food/drinks will be $300 per workshop. The snacks for the community in the evening sessions will be roughly $100 for each of the three sessions. **Any additional remaining food and funds after the workshops will be donated back to the school to help provide healthy meals for the students and staff.
3. Transportation in Haiti will be provided. While the amount cannot be known in advance, it is estimated that it could be as much as $300, because I will be hoping to build bridges for future trips and may have to travel here and there to make those connections, as well as other transportation for materials.
4. Electricity is by generator at The HEART School, and this will be used during the workshops. The cost to run the generator for the time I will be there will be roughly $100.
5. Additional Presenter Compensation: In Haiti, I will not be the only presenter for these workshops. Shad St. Louis, who is the Founder of the School, as well as other staff, will be providing their experience and expertise during the daytime workshops. I would like them to be reimbursed for their valuable time. There are also other administrative costs involved in this endeavor that I would like to make sure get covered. We are estimating $1000 to cover these expenses.
6. Community Development Endowment: One of the goals of the Community Mentoring Workshops is to develop a Community Endowment that will be supervised by The HEART School. This is a fund that young adults, who want to develop and implement community activities, can write “grant proposals” to request funds for programs and/or materials for the project. Decisions will then be made about how to distribute funds in an appropriate manner. These funds could be used for community development events, education, providing community resources, possibly recreational equipment or supplies. Only those who have participated in the workshop will be able to apply for funds. Indirectly, what we are hoping to teach the young adults is how to develop a plan for a program, develop a needs assessment and budget, and then apply for funds and ultimately implement the program. They need funds to do this, and hopefully by going through this exercise at a micro level, it could develop in them being able to develop a business and know how to pursue funding, operate within a budget, and succeed to make a dream a reality. This fund has no amount attached to it, but, as you can see will be priceless. This fund goes beyond our visit, and hopefully can continue to grow, as it helps these communities to grow.
7. The HEART School: There are many ways to support The HEART School. If you would like to visit their website and donate directly to the school, that would be wonderful, as well. You can sponsor a student, or provide funds for school supplies, meals, or other larger projects on school grounds. It is my goal to build awareness for the wonderful things that The HEART School is doing, as well as to support the community around the school. As the community wins, the school and its students win.
Many educators in Haiti do not have the formal education that individuals in the U.S. have. Furthermore, the ability to motivate students and empower them to make significant changes in their life and their community is often stunted by the ability for educators to see where they can empower themselves. In other words, we can only teach from the language that we know and understand.
Haiti, like many countries, has its culture, and sometimes the culture can limit people’s ability to see how they can succeed. There are many who follow generational patterns of learned helplessness and/or don’t see ways to grow beyond their past to see a brighter future. Perspectives on personal power and the ways that we all view emotion can be like handcuffs that limit our growth and the evolution of community. As people are given other ways to see themselves and the world, it opens up possibility and opportunity. I don’t see what I teach as anything new, but often awakening what we all know deep inside. Awakening what we all brought to this world should be a part of every teacher’s education, as well as every student’s.
This workshop will be taught with the additional help of Shad St. Louis, and his staff and is open to educators in the region. If they can make it to the location, they can attend.
- Teach educators about different ways to look at power
- Provide a different view of emotions and their Positive Purpose
- Educate on Cultural Views, their limitations and opportunities presented
- Provide teaching skills and tips to enhance attendees personal lives and the lives of their students
- Provide insights on how to contribute to community building and strengthening
Community Mentoring Workshop
This All-Day workshop will be primarily for young adults and will focus on providing skills for leadership and community building. The idea of this program came out of the serendipitous opportunity that arose during my first trip to Haiti. A group of young adults, who developed their own community development program saw me visiting there and asked for my help and guidance. In the process, I met with them and we talked about how to build community resources, trust and also connected them with the Directors of The HEART School, who were willing to provide guidance, when needed.
What became clear to me is that there are a number of young adults who want to make a meaningful difference in their communities and their nation, but they lack the necessary education, guidance and direction to know how to do it, individually, or as a collective. They also were not aware of how to involve other communities to gain critical mass.
Many of these young adults have innate leadership skills that can foster growth. If their own skills are not fostered and channeled in a healthy way, those skills may be misused, abused, or stifled. Many communities may lack leaders that can effect positive change, and as a result, generational patterns of stagnancy may persist. This workshop is intended to provide a basis for young adults to begin to find their strengths, as well as the strengths of their community, with a goal that the model spreads to nearby communities and the mentoring continues beyond my visit there.
- Help participants understand their personal dynamics, as well at the dynamics of communities.
- Provide a framework for understanding how emotions and perceptions of power influence communities in both positive and destructive ways.
- Educate on cultural beliefs that may be limiting their personal community growth
- Help them to develop a list of community resources that they can call on to build trust, interdependency and group and individual empowerment.
- Help participants to begin to understand how to effect change on multiple fronts in their community, region, and potentially, their nation.
Community-Building & Empowerment Workshops
Many of the afternoons I spent in Haiti were working with members in the community and educating them on issues related to power, emotion, and community building. Everyday I had a workshop, more and more people came. I saw that they hungered for knowledge, and everyday, they understood more. They were telling their friends about what was going on, and what was most impressive is that each day, young and old were coming. This wasn’t something that they were told to do, this was something that they wanted to do, and they wanted more. Many felt sad the day we left, and it is because of them that I am coming back. In a country where there is not so much of an opportunity to use book knowledge there is an opportunity to use knowledge about ourselves, our emotions and our personal power.
As we take care of our emotional house, we can then take care of our house and our community. One of the most powerful metaphors that I gave them was envisioning a number of lone palm trees on a beach during a hurricane versus a grove of palms. Which example did they think would result in more trees surviving the storm. They could all visualize that the grove of trees stood a better chance of survival. With that, I helped them to see why they needed to build trust in each other and seek to see how, by helping themselves and helping each other, they all could win.
Interestingly, many saw emotions as a sickness to be eliminated, not to be understood. With that, I helped them to see that just like water, we need emotions. Without them we could not exist, and they need to be understood and cleansed, just as we have to make sure our water is clean before we drink it.
In the other workshops we are providing while I am there, if the community does not see the need for what we are teaching and, therefore, don’t support it, our efforts will be in vain. As we help those in the community to see the wisdom in what is being taught, it will help educators and the young adults implement the tips, tricks and skills that we are providing.
- Educate on views of power and emotion to provide a healthier way to look at power and a more complete view of emotions and their useful purposes.
- Help members see their own personal gifts/needs and the needs of their community.
- Help build a sense of trust and build bridges between the people and their communities by opening up communication.
- Leave each participant with skills to use when looking at life circumstances and helping to find positive solutions to the challenges and opportunities that life presents.
As you can see, we are working to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time, and I see this as a continuation of what was started a few seasons ago. I hope you will join me on this mission with your support. One day soon, I hope to also be able to continue to effect change in our own back yard, as well. We have to see that although the world is a big place, our community is our planet, and we all live here together. If we can build stronger communities and help people to see how to do that, think of how our world can change for the better.
We each have a role to play in making this world a better place. Don’t think that it is someone else’s job.
Thank you for your attention to this, and even if you choose not to or can’t make a difference here, see how your time and energy can make a difference somewhere else. As one Buddhist teacher once stated: “You Smile and the Word Smiles with You.”