ART CREATION FOUNDATION FOR CHILDREN
ARTS - EDUCATION - SCHOOL - FOOD - HEALTH CARE - LOVE - SECURITY
What I saw was beautiful children, beautiful art, people who barely had money for a next meal being able to sit and paint a joyous and colorful market scene or carve out of wood or stone a peaceful and beautiful mother, holding her child, as if a Madonna.
And I watched as a woman at the market patiently sat in the hot sun for hours waiting to sell a cup of rice and then as patiently get up to go and buy a cup of beans so that she and her family would eat, only to begin this same process the next morning.
Yes, I saw horrific mounds of garbage and homes that were little more than some metal and boards held together with wire and rusted nails. I saw people suffering.
But the bright eyes of the children, the sounds of life, and the colorful taptaps and the bright eyes of the children were what told me that I would be bound in some way, for life, to this Haiti, this Ayiti ... pearl of the Antilles ... the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere ... and as short a plane ride from home as is a flight to Atlanta.
And so, with friends who are Haitian, including Vladimir Simeon who is now our CEO, Turgo Bastien an artist living in South Florida, a Mexican friend named Sandra who shared her knowledge of Haiti with me and helped to launch this organization, ACFFC was born. It was born of a dream of Turgo's ... to have a place where children could come and make art without being beaten for 'stealing paints', be children, become artists.
And as I learned more, I myself realized that a child in Jacmel who could make a bird or a bowl of papier mache would never starve, or have to sit in a market all day long to buy enough beans and rice for a meal, or sell his/her body in order to eat, or ever be sent off as a restavec (enslaved). A child who can make a papier mache bird has choices! A child who can make a papier mache bird can fly!
Art and craft in Haiti is a very important foundation that provides a means of survival to a large number of people. Unlike artists in the United States who may be referred to as "starving artists:" because they have not "made it," Haitian artists are considered a component of the 'hopefuls'of the Haitian socio-economic structure. Their existence creates a trickle down effect, impacting their own families and neighbors in a community; each artist assists to provide stability by having the money to buy food from a local vendor, fabric to be used as canvas from a neighbor, etc.
Almost all Haitian artists are men. However at ACFFC, girls and boys have equal status and opportunity for sure.
Please look at these children. Some of you may recognize them, as these photos were taken a while back when they were younger, and you know how far they have come.
Let us all move forward together.
As we do, we build community and make for change together.