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An Update on the Art Creation Foundation for Children in Haiti

July 25, 2017 1 comment

The Art Creation Foundation for Children in Jacmel, Haiti is alive and well!  We have had a number of substantial grants over the past year, which have paid for the rent on our building and our food program, but we are facing a shortfall this summer for general operating expenses and for educational expenses (school fees, books, uniforms, shoes, backpacks) for our children when the new school year begins in August. Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated!

Here is a link to a new video that outlines our services and the children who are part of our program.  In it, you can see some of the work created by the children in Jacmel and understand exactly how the dollars you donate are used by ACFFC. I urge you to help us help our children achieve a better life in a difficult country. We are proud in the knowledge that we are helping these children learn the skills that can help them to change their lives.

In this blog I have written about some of the children I worked with in photography workshops.  Here is an update on three of our young adults:

Bruno Rene has moved on to a position as art instructor on the staff of ACFFC. He recently took part in a countrywide painting competition for Sogebank where he rose up through the ranks.  He was a finalist to represent South East Haiti, one of three.  He then traveled to Port Au Prince to compete with artists from around the country, and ultimately won an honorable mention and an award of 75000 HTG (about $1200 US).  His work is currently for sale at a premier local art gallery in Jacmel where he has sold some of his larger pieces.

 

 

Michou Jouissant is now leader of the Mosaic Product Team – an important part of the ACFFC program. She is charged with team management, product development and quality control. A natural leader, she is the highest paid student intern and is performing work that will lead to jobs in the private sector in the future. The Haitian culture is very difficult for women with aspirations to move beyond service and caretaker roles. Michou has benefited from a special program within ACFFC devoted to the empowerment of our young women, giving them a voice and helping to build their confidence and self-esteem where they learn to speak up and take on leadership roles.

 

 

Fedno Lubin has two more years in high school, where he is a star student and has learned fluency in English. He is a part-time student intern at the foundation, and the official ACFFC photographer. He has created his own photography business and is in demand as a photographer of communions, weddings and baptisms in the Jacmel area, and has developed a line of postcards that he sells to hotels and tourists.

 

 

Please help us create more success stories! Donations can be made through our website or PayPal

Or they can be sent to:

Art Creation Foundation For Children

14113 Drakes’ Point Drive

Jacksonville, FL 32224

Every penny you donate will be used with care.  Thanking you in advance!

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Photo Album: Post #5 Jacmel 2013

June 14, 2013 1 comment

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are a few that might fill in the blanks left by my reporting:

The fact that Art Creation Foundation for Children offers three meals a day to its youth is very very important.  Here is where money for food goes:

Sorting beans for lunch

Sorting beans for lunch

Kids enjoying lunch.

Enjoying lunch

4-13-4_212 ©DSmook

Dining area

Dining area

And here are more photographs of what the children are learning and accomplishing:

Mosaic vases

Mosaics are used to create vases out of bottles.

Another shot of the photography group.

Another shot of the photography group.

Students doing homework after school.

Students doing homework after school.

Group working on papier mache projects.

Group working on papier mache projects.

The work is painted.

The work is painted.

Paper can be glued to a mask base.

Paper can be glued to a mask base.

A fabulous mask

A fabulous mask

A colorful vase.

A colorful vase.

The showroom in our new building.

The showroom in our new building.

A mosaic design begins with a sketch.

A mosaic design begins with a sketch.

The mosaic pieces are cut and glued to mesh.

The mosaic pieces are cut and glued to mesh.

The tiles are cemented to the wall.

The tiles are cemented to the wall.

Grout is added when the wall is complete.

Grout is added when the wall is complete.

You can see how the children’s imagination and skills have evolved in these images.  And they are so proud of their work!

ACFFC will celebrate its tenth anniversary as a 501c3 corporation later this year.  This milestone is the perfect time for us to reflect on the amazing achievements of the past decade and move ahead on plans for the future.  A future that looks very promising for the Art Creation Foundation for Children youth!

4-13-2_168 ©DSmook

Papouche: Painter, Dancer, Carpenter: Post #3 Jacmel, Haiti 2013

Papouche is a gentle giant.  He was one of the first people I met on my visit to the Art Creation Foundation for Children last year, and was a tremendous help to me this year.

His was a difficult upbringing in Port au Prince in a home for street children, where Jen Pantaleon of Zanmi Lakay first met him and began to work with him in 1997.  Even in that environment, Papouche made many friends because of his integrity, his respect for himself and others, and his wonderful smile.

In 2000 when the group home closed Papouche was back on the street.  Jen was glad to find him again the following year at yet another group home.  He was able to take part in Zanmi Lakay programs learning carpentry, and was sent back to school.  He is very intelligent.  He is also a fabulous dancer.

After the house in Port au Prince where he was living collapsed in the earthquake, Papouche was invited to move to Jacmel and become a part of the Art Creation Foundation for Children.  He is older than most of the youth, but was not yet able to earn enough to live on his own.  It was not an easy transition, but he has blossomed at the foundation.

He has become involved in a dance troupe that performs in the annual Karneval parades and is now teaching dance.  He has learned to paint both on a small scale,

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and on a large scale.

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He has used his carpentry skills to rebuild homes for ACFFC families, and to great advantage in the new building.  These are cubicles he has constructed in the new computer room.

4-13-5_021 computer room

Papouche is a leader with the mosaic team and visiting groups, and works on assignments for Zanmi Lakat.  He is earning a salary and respect, making friends, and his life has changed dramatically.  He has worked hard and, despite the obstacles, is making a productive and satisfying life for himself.

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He is a wonderful role model for the younger children!

The Great Wall of Jacmel, Haiti: Post #1 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

July 20, 2012 2 comments

There is a special wall in Jacmel, Haiti.  It was built by the children from the Art Creation Foundation for Children.

Shortly after the 2010 earthquake, Laurel True contacted Judy Hoffman with the wish to create a mosaic art project with the children of the Art Creation Foundation for Children that would be a lasting memorial to those lost and also a celebration of what the future could be.  Laurel, a well-known mosaic artist, suggested a wall installation.  Permission was obtained from the then-Mayor and now Senator Edo Zenny to cover a section of a cement wall facing the ocean.  Laurel raised funds through Kickstarter, and with Erin Rogers working as her assistant, brought bags of mosaic tile to Jacmel and taught the kids what to do.  The designs were created as a collaborative effort by the children.

The initial design was a Tree of Life.

The kids sketched designs on the actual cement with chalk.

All were amazed at how quickly they absorbed the techniques and put them into action.

Within days the tiles were cemented in place and grouted.

Shells were interspersed with the tiles so that people could insert messages and candle

 

Here is Judy’s photo of the inaugural memorial ceremony.

The Tree of Life was followed by La Sirene on a section of the wall directly facing the sea.

After Laurel departed, many more tiles were donated and the children continued creating wonderful images.

A garden,

Sea creatures,

Animals,

Carnival figures,

And musical instruments.

 

 

A cement bench was covered with tiles and instantly became a gathering place.

This summer work has begun on the unfinished section facing the ocean

The entire town celebrates this work and the wall has become a place of great pride.  I love its fanciful nature – childlike, beautifully executed.

Fedno Lubin, Future Haitian Photojournalist: Post #4 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

July 7, 2012 1 comment

This is Fedno Lubin, a natural leader and an enthusiastic photographer.

He became part of Art Creation Foundation for Children in 2005 at the age of 11 having begun, but not having completed first grade.  He was born in a rural area in a situation of abject poverty.  At 10 he was sent to an aunt who agreed to take him in so that he could attend school, but then could not pay the fees for him to complete first grade.  In Haiti, it is rare for a child to be permitted to advance if a grade is not completed, but Fedno’s intelligence and desire to learn convinced the headmaster to let him enter second grade, rather than repeat first grade.  This was his first victory and he has been an excellent student ever since.

As with many of the children who have entered the foundation’s art and educational programs, if you had asked him at age 10 what he wanted to be when he grew up, you would have gotten a blank stare.  The goal was to get through the day.

Fedno was the first teen I met when I got to Jacmel.  He helped me set up the equipment I brought and to test its suitability for photographing artwork using natural light on the upstairs balcony.

Imagine my joy as a photographer/teacher when he was actually thrilled to understand what you can learn from a histogram on the display of a digital camera!  (Fedno uses a more sophisticated camera than the other kids, donated by a photographer who works with the group on documentary projects and understands his capabilities.)

When the rest of the group arrived from school, Fedno proved his leadership abilities in assisting me in demonstrating the techniques for shooting artwork.

The following morning we worked together on understanding aperture and shutter speed, and how these settings give you control over your final image.  He was like a sponge and took careful notes.

When we moved to the computer on the final day, Fedno quickly learned what was necessary to transfer the images to each teen’s photo file and was instrumental in the discussion and critique of the images and how they might be improved.  Since I didn’t have consistent translation help that day, I was very, very appreciative!

Then we all went out for a farewell party.

The next morning, Fedno presented me with a beautiful small painting he created as a thank you.  It is signed on the reverse, “Fedno, Journalist.”  His goals for the future are clear.

Photography Workshop with Teens in Haiti: Post #2 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

June 21, 2012 Leave a comment

I worked with the children at Art Creation Foundation for Children in Jacmel for three days.

On day one I began by setting up the equipment with Fedno, who has some experience with a camera and did not have a full day of school.  I brought with me:  a portable white cloth tent called a PortaCube from Calumet that I could use with natural light, a white shower curtain, a large roll of black gaffers tape and an inexpensive tripod.  I decided that lights would be impossible to sustain.  The electricity in Jacmel is iffy.  Teenagers break things and bulbs, etc. are not easy to find.  And the sun is really, really bright in Haiti.

A real stroke of luck was the presence of Yves, a doctoral student from Haiti, raised in Brooklyn from age 8, who was accompanying his girlfriend Jenny to the foundation.  Jenny was working with the younger kids on a protrait project and Yves was free to translate for me.  The language spoken in Haiti is Creole, a mixture of French and African languages, and I couldn’t understand a word.

Fedno was very quick to catch on to the use of the equipment.  It had been suggested that the upstairs balcony would be a good place to work.  It is in shade most of the day and has terrific light, so Fedno and I taped the shower curtain to the wall for use in shooting paintings and opened the tent and placed it on two chairs pushed together.  We were in business.  While we waited for the other kids to arrive from school, I photographed the paintings of three artists trained at the foundation who are about to graduate from high school so that they would have a record of their work.

When the kids arrived and had had lunch (during the school year a substantial lunch is served to all – during vacations, there are 3 meals a day) I demonstrated how to open the tent and use the tripod.  The foundation already has a supply of basic digital point and shoot cameras.

The tent was used to photograph paper mache objects, small mosaic pieces and small paintings on canvas board.  It worked beautifully; the light was diffused and the point and shoot cameras worked.

  I breathed a sigh of relief.  the kids were elated by how good their images looked.  On the lower right is translator Yves.

On the second day I spent the morning teaching Fedno some more advanced aspects of photography.  He had wondered about the histogram on his more advanced camera and was elated to learn what it signified.  We also worked on control of aperture and speed.  It was gratifying to see how quickly he absorbed these principles of photography.

When the rest of the group arrived, we spent hours on the balcony practicing what they had learned the day before.  First they took photographs of each other so that each person’s memory card began with an image defining whose camera it was.

Then the kids began to practice, first shooting objects,

and then paintings, using the shower curtain background.  What was most gratifying to me was the way I could step back and watch them help each other.

On the third day, we looked at the work on a notebook computer.  Everyone was thrilled to see his/her work on the screen.  We made a file for each person and transferred the images into the files for storage.  Again, I was glad to step back and watch them help each other work with the computer.Then, along with Monica, who had helped with the initial computer set-up (I am not well versed in the mysteries of PCs, being an Apple user), we went to a favorite local spot for soda and juice!

An Inspiring Week with Haitian Teens: Post #1 Jacmel, Haiti 2012

June 17, 2012 Leave a comment

I have just returned from a wonderful week teaching a group of Haitian teenagers in Jacmel how to photograph their artwork.

Art Creation Foundation for Children was founded by my childhood friend Judy Hoffman in 2000 as a way to help street children in the town of Jacmel to get an education and learn crafts by which they could earn a living.  Little did she know what she was getting herself into.  Before the 2010 earthquake, the project included 60 children and a small staff.  The foundation now takes care of 100 children and their families.  A few of the children are orphaned; most have some family, but none had attended school or eaten on a regular basis prior to joining ACFFC.  The foundation provides a safe place to be after school, a place to do homework and to learn about and create artwork.  During the school year, the children’s school fees are paid and they are provided with uniforms, shoes, backpacks, books and a substantial lunch after school.  During vacations, they are served three meals a day.  A major goal is for each child to be able to be self-supporting and to have a real sense of community as he or she becomes an adult.

I arrived in Jacmel with my friend Monica to learn more first-hand about the foundation and to hold a workshop for some of the older children on how to photograph their artwork – mainly objects of papier mache and paintings.  It was a wonderful week and we all learned a great deal.

We somehow negotiated our way out of the totally chaotic airport Port au Prince and crossed over the mountains south to Jacmel.  Fairly hair-raising, although our driver, Juice, was really skilled at passing every person or vehicle in front of us, using an intricate combination of honks that seemed to be a common language understood by all, whether on foot or in some kind of vehicle.  We were glad to arrive in Jacmel.

This was our first introduction to the foundation:
We turned left and then right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There we were met at the door to the courtyard by Georges Metallus, the Executive Director in Haiti.

 

I will continue my story in the coming days and weeks, so that I can share my impressions of the children, their accomplishments and the work the foundation is involved in with you all.

For the moment – a peek at the group of teenagers I worked with: