How is Haiti’s Artwork Unique?
Art provides an incredible opportunity for people to come to
know and experience Haiti and its vibrant culture. Though Haitian art is a somewhat complex tradition, it is an
important representation of the nation’s diverse population and rich history. Unlike
some parts of the world, the artwork in Haiti is not confined to museums and
galleries, but rather, it can be enjoyed on public transportation and in city
streets! Here are just a few more unique ways Haitian artwork sets itself apart
from the rest:
Painting is one of the more popular mediums among Haitian
artists, who enjoy using bright, bold colors to create very imaginative images.
In addition to surrealist style paintings, many artists also depict daily life
in the city or scenes relating to Haiti’s topography, highlighting its steep
mountain peaks and stunning ocean coastlines.
Making flags is a long-standing tradition for many
Haitians, used as a way to commemorate beloved spirits or saints. Though the
use of sequins in flag-making first became prevalent during the 1940s, they
continue to be used today. The majority of modern flags are made from shiny,
silk fabrics, covered in a beautiful mosaic of beads and colored sequins. A
full-size banner may contain up to 20,000 sequins, and take as many as ten days
Steel sculptures in Haiti are commonly formed out of
natural, found, or recycled materials. Artists find creative ways to reuse
these discarded objects, and transform them into something beautiful. It’s
typical to see sculptures created from several components fused together, like
old oil drums, rivets, marbles, wire, and more.
Wood remains a precious commodity in Haiti, as a low supply
and high demand has greatly increased the cost of lumber. What this means is,
not only is wood highly valued, but it is well respected in the Haitian culture
as well. Artists have been creating incredible wooden sculptures for decades
now, whittling figures and carving shapes out of its branches with intense
Making crafts is a welcomed pastime and even
profession for many Haitians, though this type of artwork can take on many
different forms. Sometimes, religious icons and prayer vessels are made using
bottles decorated with colorful sequins. Still other popular craft choices
include leather sculptures, jewelry making, hand-sewn clothing, and ornate,
hand-carved wooden furniture.
As alluded to, art can be found everywhere in Haiti, from
bus facades to murals marking city streets. Over the years, painting,
sculpture, music, poetry, and dance have evolved as respected expressions of
social and political conditions. Not only does much of Haiti’s artwork shed
light on the nation’s history and religious influences, but it is a catalyst
for sharing stories and proverbs of resilience, resistance, and hope.
As you can see, the art scene in Haiti is alive and well!
Artists there are excited to share their original artwork with the rest of the
world, as they continue to create an array of beautiful, unique pieces,
reflective of both the past and present culture thriving on the island.
Many of the children in our Child Advocacy program and in our Transitional Homes are gifted artists, having had a
chance to explore their artistic side through our summer camps and school activities.
Check out some of their handiwork below!
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 2:31:09 PM
Best Haitian Games for Kids
Haitian children, just like kids all over the world,
love to laugh and play with their friends and family. While many of their
playtime activities are similar to those enjoyed by children in the United States, some are more traditional and
specific to the island itself.
Here’s a list of the best Haitian games for kids (though
they’re really for anyone looking to have a little fun):
This is without a doubt the most popular sport played by
Haitians. With one of the longest football traditions of any surrounding island
nation, Haitian children and adults are known to play football on any available
space, while television coverage of big matches are also a big hit.
As both an active hobby
and a spectator sport, football is beloved by nearly every Haitian – both
young and old alike.
In 1974, Haiti became the first Caribbean country to be
featured in the World Cup finals, which is an incredible testimony to the
country’s love and commitment to the game.
Dancing is a huge part of Haitian culture, as seen
incorporated into their festivals and holidays to express and evoke emotion. Not only is Haitian dancing
deeply connected to the local music, it’s also full of community, history, and
storytelling. Despite cultural stereotypes that label dance as reserved for
spiritual rituals, dancing has managed to embed itself into the lifeblood of
the Haitian people.
Schoolyard games involving song and dance are quite common
among children in Haiti, wherein
participants form a large circle and join in traditional songs, clapping their
hands in accompaniment. Those in the circle often dance to the beat, as well,
moving in time and rhythm with the clap pattern created by their peers.
Warri uses 48 seeds on a rectangular board, with twelve
receptacles or ‘houses’ arranged in six pairs along the entire length of said
board. At the beginning of the game, four seeds are placed in each house. The
objective is to capture the majority of the seeds; each has the same value, and
the winner is the individual who captures more than half of the total number.
While adults typically play Warri on wooden boards, children
aren’t afraid to dig in the dirt to play with makeshift boards on the ground.
Also called Kay in some parts of Haiti, Warri has been enjoyed for generations
and looks as though it will continue to be passed on to many more, as well.
Much like elsewhere, pick-up or organized basketball, partner
clapping with songs, jumping rope, playing catch, thumb wars, musical chairs,
tug o’ war, and much more are played in Haiti. Everything from card games to
jacks, marbles, dominoes, checkers, hide-and-seek and hopscotch are played by
Haitian boys and girls.
Whether playing indoors or outdoors, with a few or many
others joining, Haitian children know how to have a good time even when playing
simple, classic games. While they have less opportunity to hide behind TV or
computer screens, that means they have a greater ability to get out, run
around, and burn off energy. Kids in Haiti love to spend their free time having
fun, and these games are a great way to do so.
You can give children in restavek the chance to make friends and play games like
these by sponsoring a child’s education today!
Friday, September 23, 2016 3:33:54 PM
Get to Know Adeline, our Transitional Home Director!
I first had the pleasure of getting to know Adeline,
our kind-hearted Transitional Home Director, when she was visiting our U.S.
office last winter. At that point, I
felt like I already knew her, having read her reports on the girls in our
Transitional Homes. The thing that really struck me when reading these reports
was how well she knew each of the girls in our homes, and how much she cared
for each of them individually. When asked
how the girls were doing, she could immediately tell us how each girl’s week
had been, how they were doing in school, who was getting along with who that
week, what their hopes and fears are, what they dream of becoming one day…I was
When I sat down with her several
months later to interview her in Haiti, I saw even more of her heart
revealed. No doubt you will see her passion
not only for the girls in our Transitional Homes and for children living in
restavek, but also for the people of Haiti, through her answers in this staff
spotlight. May you be inspired that there really are people out there making a difference in the world. Meet Adeline!
How long have you been working with Restavek Freedom?
5 years, 7 months and 3 days.
How did you first find out about
I first heard about the organization from my friend Nadine, who is a
Child Advocate with Restavek Freedom.
What languages do you speak?
Creole, French and English
you like most about your job?
the girls’ lives
with the girls
time with the girls
the girls say I am very important in their life
with the girls
one of the hardest parts of your job?
When one of the
girls seems sad and I try to help them, but sometimes I can’t.
What is one thing you have learned through
All children are intelligent and have a dream.
What do you
like most about your country?
I like my flag,
because when I look at it I can see I am an independent woman living in an
one thing people might not know about Haiti?
We are loving; we
have a lot of love to share. Also, some
don’t know we are a proud people.
you wish most for Haiti?
I wish for all
Haitians to be equal. For all children to have food to eat, to go to school, have
a house to live in, and have someone to love them.
you wish most for children living in restavek?
All of the girls in the house have big dreams; I just want their
dreams to be realized. I don’t want them to be disappointed in the future.
motivates you in your job?
I believe in change. If I can motivate
one of the girls in the house, I believe I can change Haiti and the world. The
girls motivate me.
your favorite song, book or movie?
My favorite movies are and (they both talk about integrity). And my favorite song is by Emeline Michel.
What are your favorite things to do when
you’re not working?
Reading and eating peanut ice cream.
If you could go anywhere in the world for a
week, where would it be?
I would go to Senegal (in Africa).
If you could be a superhero, what would you
want your superpowers to be?
I would want to be able to change things
and put more love inside each person.
What is one thing you’d like to accomplish in
I would like to have somewhere to
receive all of the people who are on the street and don’t have somewhere to go
at night. I would feed them, give them a
place to sleep, and also have a village for children living in restavek – I
would like each of them to have a loving family and be able to go to school.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 3:08:45 PM