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The Art of Focusing On What's Important

Bringing art and creativity to children

Forgive me Patch for I have skimped. It's been a month and a half since my last submission!

But since a large part of it was spent taking care of business in the United States between assignments in Haïti, may I please be forgiven? A quick breakdown of the excitement: Storage in Atlanta? Managed. Hugged by friends? Massively. Storage in Long Beach? Paid. Loved on by Dad, Mom, brother, his kids and my own? Oh yeah!

What else? Well, I made it from Port-au-Prince including all of the above locations and back on five Spirit Air tickets for less than $500. How? A couple of $1 fares showed up at the last minute while booking and I traveled without checked or carry on baggage [$250 savings]. The latter was hilarious. Fashion choices for me simply were not. I packed so light I even showed up in the freezing cold ATL wearing sandals! Well, they are my favorite footwear!

The last leg of my trip, however, was all about stuffing a huge duffle bag with art supplies per the request of Love For Haïti Art Program Director Judy Rector. It makes no sense to pack- light going to Haïti. I am just sure I have a picture of the Red Carpet Inn manager in Ft. Lauderdale helping me stuff, stuff, stuff my bag beyond capacity the night before my morning flight. And this was not a customer service offering. She was just cool like that! You see, Big Lots and Dollar General were within walking distance from her hotel and there was a free shuttle to and from Red Carpet Inn and the airport. Besides, “The Fort Lauderdale Inexplicably Patterned Airport Carpet Inn” is free! I'm so frugal I'm dangerous!

Up to speed: Currently I am in my third week working with l'École Anis Zunizi in Lilivois, Port-au-Prince, as part of a K-12 “Training for Trainers” Art Program implementation. Judy Rector, several school administrators and board members and I teamed together to hire a Haitian art instructor during the first week of March. There were 14 applicants and we really put them through the drill, requiring each to present a lesson to a class. Two applicants were invited to return for second interviews. Our choice was the lovely Rose-Andree Fils-Aime. Characteristics that pushed her over the top included, positive attitude, creative approach to teaching, great smile, and an obvious willingness to learn.

There is so much to say about this program and what it stands to accomplish as a groundbreaking approach to including art in education here. And to think it all began as a simple request of Love for Haiti by school administrator Ribintrop Louis in December of 2009. Rector, the program director, spent more than a year preparing the answer to his demand, “We want art to be taught in our school!” Art supplies came first followed by “Training for Trainers” last November [this is when I joined the effort], and now an art teacher position has been filled. Each week 400 children get to shake hands with their own creative capacities and express themselves!

Please enjoy this 4 minute glimpse into what could one day become history in Haïti if it were to catch on. Though it is difficult to archive the many daily triumphs, trials and adventures, you and I are on to something amazing this trip so stay tuned! Of course you are going to hear a lot of news in the near future about election results and the agenda of visiting dignitaries. Certainly the Cholera threat has NOT passed and hurricane season is on the approach. Keep your eyes and ears and prayers on Haïti and remember that my goal is to seek out the good in this challenged, developing and beautiful place. Say it with me...”Ki sa ki bon nouvĕl la?” We all need it - “What's the good news?!”

John J Dillon June 19, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Hi Audrey. This is Jeff Dillon, from Huachuca- remember me? You still look like you did back then! It is great to read that you are doing such nice things for the Haitians. Ciao!

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