24 teachers, 150 kids, 8 volunteers, 5 interpreters, 98 degrees… Creativity was made for weeks like this!
In July, a team of eight volunteers with the American Friendship Foundation traveled down to Haiti to work with teachers on strategies to integrate creativity into the classroom. The team included Jeff Clark, Terry Clark, McKenzie Clark, Erica Stanislawski, Kenny Askew, Julia Smith, Rose Neese, and Kris Neese.
The program started with a two-day workshop for Haitian teachers. Twenty one teachers from J Nissi School and Institution Mixte Frère Silar, along with three future teachers from the HELP organization in Port-au-Prince, shared ideas around critical thinking, brainstorming, creativity, and the arts.
In Haiti, as in many other nations, the educational system is focused on rote memorization. When teachers can help their students to solve problems in creative ways and to think outside the box, they are planting seeds that will help this next generation of leaders to tackle larger issues like the environment, politics, and social justice.
Teachers are the conduit to get students thinking in new ways.
At the center of the training were a series of creative challenges hosted on www.kreyatif.org that provided the 24 teachers with a practical set of exercises (in Haitian Creole) to leverage in their classrooms.
Teachers were treated to an award ceremony at the end of the event where they received a certificate of completion for completing the training.
Following our professional development workshop, it was time to bring in 150 kids for a two-day “Creative Camp” and let our Haitian teachers test out their new skills!
Creative Camp was fun summer opportunity for the kids living onsite at the Ororaedh Orphanage alongside students who attend J Nissi School in the extremely impoverished Cité Soleil area.
It was amazing to watch how quickly the entire group adapted to the concepts around critical thinking. The teachers taught with authority and confidence, and you could see the students’ minds firing up and having fun.
The approach on this Creative Camp was that our team of AFF volunteers took a backseat during the event. Haitian teachers were the star of the show!
The week was amazing, but there is still work to be done. The team that organized the teacher workshop and Creative Camp is looking for ways to build a consistent delivery mechanism around these ideas.
It is a simple and obvious philosophy… Haitians are going to find the answers to Haiti’s issues. Investing in teachers and students, specifically in their ability to tackle tough problems and work as a team, is a great partnership opportunity for us.
Thank you to all of the people who provided encouragement and financial sponsorship for this project!
For those of you who have joined us on a trip to Haiti, you know that it can be quite difficult to explain what life is like on this distant Caribbean Island. Sharing your passion for partnering with Haitians on projects to better their community can be quite difficult!
This fourth of July weekend, volunteers from the American Friendship Foundation are testing out a new concept on Lopez Island to raise awareness and funds for the Nissi School in Haiti.
Not on Lopez Island? You can still support the school by clicking here.
Beer and Wine Garden
The concept being tested is a beer and wine garden on Lopez Island. AFF volunteers Jeff Clark, Terry Clark, and Hubermann Alcean are spending the weekend hosting a community event where visitors to the island can purchase beer, wine, brats, and snacks. All proceeds from the event will go towards a school in Haiti that was founded by the Clarks in 2011.
All sorts of visitors have been stopping by to enjoy a refreshing beverage and learn more about the school in Haiti.
In this picture you can see AFF all-star Hubermann Alcean and his daughter talking to guests about life in Haiti. Hubermann met Jeff Clark in 2010 while providing medical relief for the earthquake in Haiti. Since then he has helped to lead several of the service trips to Haiti. Hubermann now lives in Bothell and works at Evergreen Hospital.
The Nissi School in Cité Soleil opened in October 2011 providing education and hope for the children and families in the area. Cité Soleil is described as one of the poorest communities in the Western Hemisphere, so education is desperately needed to provide the kids with a good bearing in life.
The school is fully funded by donations from the American Friendship Foundation. The financial support provided through donations to AFF helps pay teachers, provide new uniforms each year, purchase books, supplies, and funds a school lunch program. Donations to the project are definitely needed, your generous support is appreciated.
In this 2-minute video, we introduce you to Jean Philippe Sauveur, the director of the J Nissi School in Haiti. Watch this video to hear how the school is doing, some of the challenges of growing up in Cité Soleil, and Jean Philippe’s hope for his students. (Recorded October 27, 2016)
We are proud to be partnering with Jean Philippe as he makes the decisions impacting the seventy kids under his care at the J Nissi School. The school was a dream of Jean Philippe’s late step-brother Windy and has developed into a beacon of hope in the community over the past six years.
Movable walls within the church where they currently host three of the classes to foster fewer distractions.
More benches to accommodate the growing number of students.
Enough textbooks for every student so they can get their homework done.
Storage space for the teachers to store their books and other teaching resources.
More notebooks for the kids.
More chalkboards for the teachers.
As we raise money to support the school, we first cover the monthly operating expenses and then give Jean Philippe the authority to make decisions on which projects to prioritize and how to get them accomplished. This is a project run by Haitians, we are simply here to provide support as they work towards solutions for their country.
We had the chance to film this interview while sitting down with Jean Philippe Sauveur on October 27, 2016. While we had to cut this video down to suit our fellow short-attention-span Americans, you are welcome to watch the entire 35 minute video and read the full transcript of this interview.
The week has been flying by for our AFF team in Haiti this week. Today, we had the opportunity to put on a vision clinic at the J Nissi School in Cité Soleil for all the parents of our students.
Our focus was on handing out glasses for “up close” activities like reading and sewing. A few minutes were spent with each parent to assess their vision and to determine what (if any) prescription of readers they needed. It’s a wonderful chance to simply say bonjour, connect with the parents, and provide them with something that can make life just a little bit easier.
Cité Soleil is an area outside of Port-au-Prince that is known for both extreme poverty and for being a well-spring of incredible people who are determined to make Haiti a better place. A man named Windy Sauveur is the one who got this whole project with the school started. You’ll also meet people like Pierre Duckens, who joined our group today, and is working to train up EMTs in Cité Soleil and build the emergency response system for Haiti. People like these are all the reminder we need on why providing kids with an education is such a vital mission in areas like this.
The glasses that we used were provided by the Lions Club Eyeglass Recycling program out of Lacey, WA. The Lions Club collects the glasses, repairs them, cleans them, and puts them in bags that are easy to identify when working with the patients. We are very grateful to them for offering this service.
“People often ask, why go to Haiti? What can change? I ask you to look into the eyes of anyone of these children from Cite Soleil and ask them. Has school changed you? Has having food daily at school changed you? Does hope for tomorrow change you?
We will meet the new class of this year in a week! Those eyes are why this school enters its 6th year and we keep going to Haiti.”
– Jeff Clark
A team from AFF has been assembled for a “back to school” visit to Haiti in late October. During the trip, we’ll visit the three main American Friendship Foundation projects in Haiti, assess the impact of Hurricane Matthew at each site, make some visits to our other local partners. Our three core projects in Haiti are:
J Nissi School
Canaan Medical Clinic
Many of you who read this blog post have visited these sites with a past team. We are looking forward to capturing photos, video, and interviews with our Haitian project directors and sharing them with you upon our return so you always remember that connection you created. You are a part of the story!
As always, donations are appreciated to support these projects and 100% of your gift goes directly towards supporting these worthwhile projects.
Below you can read a more detailed overview on the project sites we’ll visit.
J Nissi School
Started in 2011, the J Nissi School serves kids in Cite Soleil, which is one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere. Over the past five years, we have partnered with our school administrator Jean Philippe to build a a safe place within the community for our students where they get a good meal every day and the education required to break the chain of poverty.
During our October visit, the team is going to distribute brand new school uniforms, backpacks, and school supplies direct to our students. For those of you who have visited the school, you know what a fun day this is for the kids!
We are also hoping to have a meeting with the parents of the students, to take the teachers out to dinner, and to take the kids for an offsite field trip.
Canaan Medical Clinic
We are also very excited to have the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Edouard Bordes on this upcoming trip. Dr. Bordes runs the clinic in Canaan, which is a city that sprung up as a refuge for victims of the 2010 earthquake. His clinic serves a community of 200,000 Haitians and is an essential service in this remote area outside of Port-au-Prince.
While visiting, we’ll have the opportunity to see the operating room that is under construction at the clinic. This new OR is intended to serve as a birthing center for the women in Canaan. Dr. Bordes pours his heart into his work and we look forward to discussing his future plans for the clinic and how we can support his efforts.