A people’s movement in Haiti has held manifestations for the past two weeks. They are fighting to rid their government of corruption and to find justice for the billions of dollars stolen by politicians here. The Haitian government was supposed to use that money for infrastructure projects. Google #kotkobpetrocaribe to learn more. The government finally addressed the people this past weekend with a list of changes, including a 30% drop in politician’s benefits. The protests have stopped and life seems to be back to normal. But its not normal.
For 12 days no one worked. No one made money to put food on their table. Most Haitians I have talked to support the movement to rid the government of corruption. This latest grouping of protests has had a huge impact on the economy, which will last for a long time. Karnival in most cities have been canceled. Jacmel is still having Karnival but its for locals only. Every hotel is virtually empty, when usually they would be booked. Jacmel’s economy is dependent on Karnival but Jacmel is now a ghost town.
We know this is a crisis and we want to help. We are fundraising to pay for all the student tuition for the next two months. Each month students pay $6.5 for their class. It may not seem like a lot but it can mean a family goes without something as important as food and water. We want them to keep their money for their families. In total it is $988 for 76 students. We also want to create immediate opportunities to work for local trade skills workers and small businesses. We need chairs, 2 tables, shelving and fabric for class. So every dollar goes to paying a professor at JE or it goes to local businesses. This is important to create jobs and learning opportunities so people feel hopeful and feel pride in their work.
Please click the donate button and give even $6.5 for a student. Give $150 and we can build a new table for our growing student population.
On May 15th, the subsidies that keep gas prices lower will be stopped. This is in response to a request from the World Bank. The Haiti government will also raise prices on electricity. All of these changes are meant to decrease the deficit of Haitian national budget. There are so many issues in this development that we would have to refer to a scholar that studies the subject. On the ground, in the cities, neighborhoods and rural towns, this affects everyone’s life and ability to achieve success.
As we said in our previous post, consistency of electrical infrastructure is poor. We receive only 8 hours of energy every other day. That means we either have inverters and batteries, run a generator or go without electricity. Many businesses, personal homes and organizations rely on a generator for their daily lives. In the past when our invertor system has broken down, JE used our stinky and loud generator everyday. It costs us $15 dollars to run our generator for two days, at 6 hours per day. That means we have paid, $45 every week to power our organization and run classes. We pay our faculty $50 a month per class. So we could use that money to pay four faculty instead of buying gas. $45 may not sound like much but this is not America and the average daily wage is $2.50. Even the growing middle class will suffer.
Help us create sustainable infrastructure in Jacmel. We can’t take care of all of Haiti or even all of Jacmel but we can make a big difference for a lot of people in Jacmel. Cause when gas prices go up, most all prices go up!
For the past 7 years, Jakmel Ekspresyon has been a Community Arts Center. It has been a space for artists to glean new skills or practice old ones through classes. It has provided resources for graduates so they can create their own job. The building and equipment has been used by many local organizations to hold classes, have meetings, and or create activities for the larger community of Jacmel. As the Center has grown our network of local volunteers has grown, so has our list of classes. The artists are gaining more skills based experience. The community of students, faculty and administration are driven forward-thinking intellectuals and each of them is always seeking more knowledge.
Our classes have traditionally included skills, techniques and professional development. What the Center lacks is critical thinking classes and practices. A community center provides resources for a community and its activities. A school teaches students how to approach critical thinking and has a curriculum to achieve that pathway. The academic classes that the community is asking for will make Jakmel Ekspresyon a local arts academy. Jakmel Ekspresyon is advancing two initiatives to meet our new goal. First, we are currently seeking volunteers to expand the options for art history, philosophy and critical theory. Second, over the next year we will be developing themes for the classes to tackle issues such as health, discrimination and environmental justice. Some of these classes will include STEM/STEAM education practices such as learning code programming or testing for water pollution.
It is now our intention to develop this humble little art center into an arts academy to educate young artists and help to nurture and inspire the new generation of artists in Jacmel, Haiti. You can be involved in the next step of our journey! Start a conversation with us, introduce us to people we should know and we always take in-kind and fiscal donations. Email us at email@example.com or visit our donate page to see our wish list.
JE has created a new steering committee made up of volunteer staff, professors and students. Bathole Gary, Nadia Amie, Estella Valsaint, Alix “Rigole” Olivier, and Youdly Jules. Each person on the committee has a unique motivation and set of talents that is helping us move forward. With a diverse set of interests we are able to promote environmental justice, non-discrimination and more. The committee has prioritized a couple of objectives for the Art Center. They have agreed that Health education is crucial to our guiding principles and that we should pursue more opportunities for health classes. Creating a new set of guideline and rules before the next session of classes. Areas like the tool check out room needs a consistent system to work properly. The committee and staff all agree that Jakmel Ekspresyon should move to an arts academy model. So we are searching for volunteers to help us continue and build our philosophy and art history classes. These amazing young adults are pushing us forward and it feels like community.
Bathole Gary is a young entrepreneur, painter and sculptor. His goal is to have a school where he can learn new skills for his art. His main area of focus would be classical figurative sculpture. Bathole has also been one of our biggest supporters of volunteerism within the community.
Nadia Bien-Aime is a dedicated JE student. Nadia is currently in the sewing program, One Stitch At a Time. She speaks for the youth and their perceptions of Jakmel Ekspresyons. Nadia helps us to develop a list of awarenesses for the students. Before the next session of classes we will have an all members meeting to express those ideas to the student body.
Estella Valsaint teaches voice and acting for film classes at JE. She is a film director and has multiple projects she is pushing forward now. They include themes such as violence against women and youth issues. Estella uses her documentaries and fiction as an educational tool for healthier lifestyles.
Youdly Jules is a film director and photographer. He is most interested in documenting environmental justice issues such as clean water. Youdly volunteers with the Administration to help us build and implement a tracking system for inventory and daily office tasks.
Alix “Rigole” Olivier is a stage actor and poet. He has been coming to JE since 2011. Rigole is a natural community builder and works with many of the arts organizations in Jacmel that JE now has partnerships with. He adds to the committees a long term growth perspective as he has experienced JE in its many stages since the beginning.
Jakmel Ekspresyon is indebted to the hardwork of these young forward thinking adults who believe in a better future for Jacmel. Thank you!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Jakmel Ekspresyon
It has been a year full of achievement. There are more students than ever learning to be creative social innovators. We have over 100 students now! Out of the many successes we want to share two great achievements this year and it is all about the students. When the Center took a break from classes for a month, the students were asked to come together and have a discussion about what practice means to their work, their studies and their life. As a result the students decided to create a committee to organize student clubs. This committee was elected by the students and they decided that each committee member would serve for a year. Since, they have organized outings, events and weekly meetings for a drawing club. This student involvement has an active impact on how the students think of the Center. We have always encouraged these young adults to take ownership in their community and this committee has truly empowered them to take action. We couldn’t be prouder of them and their leadership.
The second awesome achievement is the student’s courage to promote the Center as a space of non-discrimination. They have pride in what we stand for. Most people in Haiti are timid of saying the word non-discrimination. The word is used to describe people who face violence and many don’t want to be associated with those people, for fear of that violence. Many times people have asked us if we have been the victim of aggression and violence because of our mission. We are amazed to say that we have never been threatened and in fact we have developed an extremely positive atmosphere. Visitors love the energy of the space and the students when they come to visit. We are blessed to have such a peaceful space when others are not as fortunate.
Now we have a unique opportunity to help you help us. A donor has offers to match up to $3,250 of total donations received in December and January. This equals half of our rent! We know equality is as important to you as it is to us. Your donation will support the students as they make a change in their local culture so that one day all Haitians may be viewed as equal despite their differences. Click here to make a tax deductible donation today.
Welcome to our new digital home jecenter.org. We have retooled our site to provide you with more comprehensive information about Jakmel Ekspresyon community art center. Please share the good word with all your friends and re-blog what you appreciate.
As you navigate the new site you will see more information on our guiding principles of art, health, and professional development. We are continually pushing forward to create the resources our members need to be successful creative social innovators in Jacmel and to nurture healthy open lifestyles. This “one-stop shop” approach does not fit the non-profit industry model. So we are always looking for new partners to help us develop the areas of health and professional development. If you believe in this new model, want to help us network or even discuss how this model is necessary to create change, than email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This new website has laid an awesome foundation that we will continue to improve. Over the next couple weeks we will be including more pictures of our members and their own thoughts on the Center. Stay tuned and visit frequently so you catch all of our updates.
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