Hello from our last day in Haiti. We have spent the past two weeks working with 69 students in Riviere Froide, a community in Carrefour on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
This year, we had the good fortune of working with both new and returning students from the previous year. While the new students learned basic camera techniques and elements of composition, our returning students were introduced to advocacy through photography and writing. Students were shown examples of other youth advocacy work from the United States, and discussed what they loved about their neighborhood and country and what they wanted to see change. All students completed four projects: a self-portrait photograph, a community project documenting their neighborhood, a handmade journal, and a mapping project, where they shared their dreams for the future of Haiti and the next generation. This included hospitals, schools, clean water sources, trees and increased security. Students were also introduced to basic lighting techniques, which many utilized in their self-portrait photographs.
In our second week, students, translators and teachers took a field trip to a former sugarcane plantation and a beach, where they had fun making videos and photographs with a GoPro camera in the sea. This portion of the program was especially well-received by the youth who rarely have opportunities to travel outside of their community.
The program ended with a student exhibition, where families and community members packed into a cooperative art space to celebrate their accomplishments over the past two weeks. Each student received a certificate of completion, and the ceremony included singing, dancing and student presentations highlighting what they learned and sharing their visions for a better community.
This program would not have been possible without the support of generous and dedicated individuals and organizations. We would like to extend a thank you to Yvelyne Germain McCarthy from Haitian Association for Human Development, Evens Mevoit from Mejham, Bon Samaritain School, Bruno Menard Germain and our many Indiegogo donors who believed in One Bird’s mission of increasing opportunities for youth expression through the arts.
One Bird is dedicated to community arts programs that work with children, in collaboration with their families and communities. Using photography, writing, mixed media and emerging technologies, we teach our participants tangible skills that will assist them in sharing their stories and conveying their perspective, identity and culture.
One Bird works closely with existing community organizations to increase community involvement and support project sustainability. Joint ventures allow relationships to form with other organizations who have a similar mission.
One Bird builds upon the success of The New Orleans Kid Camera Project, which addresses the emotional and psychological impacts of Hurricane Katrina on youth returning home to New Orleans. Participants are taught tangible artistic and technical skills; providing young people a forum with which to express themselves to an international audience.
Our work with kids in New Orleans consistently proves the power of our approach. The very act of creating is empowering and exciting, especially for people who have limited access to artistic tools. Documenting their experiences, and writing on a weekly basis allows participants to share their stories and express themselves.
One Bird co-founders Ariya Martin and Tara Malik, in partnership with the Haitian Association for Human Development and Mejham, traveled to Haiti in the summer of 2012 for the second international One Bird program. Alongside photographer and educator, Aubrey Edwards, One Bird exceeded the expected capacity and worked with 56 students, ages 10-16. The workshops took place at Picardo school and Splendeur, a Save the Children funded school, both in the Carrefour area of Port-Au-Prince called Riviere Froide. This neighborhood is the childhood home of Haitian Association President and University of New Orleans Professor Yvelyne Germain McCarthy. In following with the One Bird mission of partnering with existing community programs, One Bird was guided by Prof. Germain McCarthy in establishing a partnership with a local youth empowerment organization, Mejham to encourage community investment and program sustainability.
Participants used Canon Rebel DSLRs and Flip video cameras to document the area around the school and take portraits of one another. Each student reflected on their photographs and experiences in their own handmade journals and attended a field trip to MUPANAH (Musee du Pantheon National Haitien) and Pquet beach, a first time trip for the majority of students. Their artwork and accomplishments were celebrated at a closing ceremony with family and community members, which included student performances and a graduation ceremony, where each of the 56 students and 6 translators received a One Bird photography certificate.
A special thank you to: Yvelyne Germain McCarthy, Mejham Director Evens Mevoit, translators Bruno Menard Germain, Benjamin Sadrack, Indry Marco Mevoit, Steeven Louis, Yvens Josué, Frantz Maxi, as well as Bony for supplying us with coffee, car rides and Cremas! And of course, to the funders and supporters of One Bird for making this project possible.
One Bird: Dharamshala
In 2008 One Bird Co-founders, Joanna Rosenthal and Ariya Martin, conducted a three week photography program for Tibetan refugees living in Dharamshala, India. One Bird partnered with Louisiana Himalaya Association and Tibetan Children’s Village Day School to offer two classes a day (one for kids age 8-11 and one for adults 18 and older). Participants learned basic digital camera functions as well as the elements of photographic composition. Each of them were able to capture their daily lives through photographs and share their thoughts through writing.