We have been working for a week with a group of adults in Grand Goave, training them to do creative activities with the children. We had been told by Terre des Hommes how depressed the adults were, lacking in motivation and really needing our encouragement. These individuals have all been affected by the earthquake and have lost their homes and their bearings, they are as traumatized as the children — and yet they are tasked with the responsibility of leading a psychosocial support effort. So I was amazed to see how engaged and expressive they have been, indeed there is such a spirit and joy, and so much singing and chanting, it’s infectious. Sure, sometimes they slack off in concentration and it’s hard to get the group focused. But mostly, everyone is fully engaged and committed. There is great energy in the group with such a spirit of generosity and a wonderful camaraderie between us all. It’s truly been a gift to work with these individuals. It’s not a given that a group will work so easily together or that we, as teachers, will have such accepting and engaged students. These adults all come from different centers, they do not even know each other from before and they certainly did not know us. But we all have something that binds us together, I suppose, the common goal of bringing joy to the children for the future of Haiti!
What is funny is that the adults are more like children than the children — in their playfulness and silliness and goofing off. I think they are truly relishing the opportunity to just get to play! And forget for a week the responsibilities of being an adult and all that they face in their daily circumstances.
Throughout the week of activities we have taken moments to check in with our participants to see what they have absorbed from the workshops, what worked and didn’t work, what do they enjoy — and whether they feel what we are sharing will be useful to them in their work with the children. The responsehas been overwhelmingly positive. We have given them paper and crayons and every day at the end of the workshop we ask them to draw their experience, e.g., what activity they enjoyed most, what was most challenging, what was their greatest accomplishment — individually and as a group. We then have them stand up one by one and tell each other what they drew and why. This exercise is working really well. It turns out to be a great moment of absorption and reflection. Here are some pictures of their drawings.
On the last day we give each workshop participant a certificate for having completed their training with Clowns Without Borders. One of the participants had actually requested it. We are told having a certificate actually can help them in their job search, and it makes them feel validated. They are clearly inspired, everyone is very excited and proud.
I hope this inspiration lasts for a long time. I wonder how things will continue and progress. Everyone has had a wonderful, fun time. Now it remains to be seen how they will carry on and take what they have learned from us and apply it to their work with the children. This truly will show what impact our visit has had. In our last meeting, as we share thanks and acknowledgements, one of the participants talks about the ‘goudou goudou’, the earthquake. She says something about how it has been affecting her still causing so much distress, but that this week of workshops has been really helpful and now she feels much better. It is affirming to hear such direct feedback of our work having an actual and real impact.