The Miami Herald highlights the work of a Miami group sponsoring a creative art project to help heal the wounds of children in Haiti after the earthquake.
“It is important that our students value what they have by showing them what others don’t have. They are very excited about it,” says Ines Lozano, principal of the International Christian School (ICS) located at the First Presbyterian Church on Brickell Ave.
‘Through the Eyes of a Haitian Child,’ is a four-day project put together by Lozano with two teachers and a photographer who will visit Haiti June 10th to teach art and photography to homeless and orphaned children. “Art could be a great therapy to relieve most of the anxiety, a way of forgetting,” says Lozano, a former Key Biscayne ‘Principal of the Year’ (2008).
The project is being conducted over three days in three locations, with Friends of the Orphans, which runs an orphanage and a pediatric hospital in Haiti. After the Jan 12 earthquake volunteers from Friends of the Orphans created ‘Angels of Light’, a program to provide education, food and fun activities for the children of families living in tent camps that have sprung up all over the devastated capital, Port-au-Prince.
The school is collecting art supplies to take to their trip to Haiti; the students donated many of those supplies such as crayons, acrylic paint and disposable cameras.
“I was sad when we saw the news everyday and now I’m happy to help the Haiti kids because the earthquake destroyed their houses and families,” says eight-year old pupil, Diego Amilibia.
To get the students involved in the project, ICS developed a class activity where students were asked to paint the city of their dreams. Most of the artwork included big houses with many rooms and tall buildings. The same activity will be replicated in Haiti during the upcoming trip. The Haitian children will have a chance to see the work done by the students in Brickell. Lozano is looking forward to seeing the results.
“Maybe the artwork will coincide with each other, or maybe absolutely not, but the idea is that we can all participate,” she says. The group is also taking with them 100 teddy bears donated by Jim Ford, a top executive with the Neptune Society, the nation’s largest cremation firm.
Ilena Alvarez is an art teacher at the International Christian School, who is also traveling to Haiti. She felt the need to participate in part because of her upbringing. “I’m Cuban and children live under similar conditions in my country. I remember when American charitable groups would come to bring us donations and I was thinking what a great idea this person had, even if is a little bit it still makes a lasting impression for any children in need.”
Through the Eyes of a Haitian Child also includes a photography class led by a professional photographer, Boris Vazquez-Cordoves. The children will have a chance to document a day of their lives in their orphanage, and the pictures will be developed and exhibited in Miami, possibly at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami.
Jessica Wendorf who is the Regional Developmental Manager for Friends of Orphans, which runs orphanages across Latin America, as well as a pediatric hospital in Haiti, says that although the organization is happy with what it has accomplished so far, a lot more could be done.
“Our mission in Haiti is as diverse as the nine countries we serve and encompasses several different programs,” she says. That includes a public health center that specializes in HIV treatment, a home for children with special needs, and a mobile ambulance that serves over 80 Haitians per day. In addition, Hôpital Saint Damien in Chateaublond is one of only two pediatric hospitals in the country, and offers free healthcare for over 30,000 Haitians a year.
Friends of the Orphans is dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned and disadvantaged children through a network of homes, hospitals and community outreach programs throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (Haiti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico).
Wendorf hopes Through the Eyes of a Haitian Child can become a regular event.
“To collect enough supplies for all the kids to last them throughout the summer, and possibly even longer is our biggest goal,” she says, adding that Friends of the Orphans is encouraging community involvement in the project.
This is how you can help:
• 1) Donate supplies to the International Christian School at Brickell (609, Brickell Ave), or if it is easier donate funds to purchase supplies. Supplies include: pencils, crayons, pastels, markers, acrylic paint, canvas, construction paper, brushes, aprons, flip flops, disposable cameras, safety scissors and white glue.
• 2) Tell people about the trip. The goal is always to spread awareness of the tremendous resilience of the children of Haiti.
• 3) Get in touch with a participant of the trip and learn more about what propelled them to get involved.
• 4) Watch a video about Angels of Light here.
• 5) Attend the exhibit, or host a small get together of your own after the trip to exhibit some of the images and have the participants speak. The goal is to raise awareness and funds continuously (throughout the year of longer is possible).
You can also go to the Friends of Orphans website to learn more about the organization.