Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Haiti Earthquake Relief: Connecting Communities with the Arts

Photo courtesy of Billy Schultz
New Vic teaching artist Billy Schultz blogs about his recent trip to Haiti with Clowns Without Borders.

Today is July 14th and I'm in the middle of the second chapter of my circus-filled summer. It actually feels like it started in May. I received an email from Clowns Without Borders saying that they needed one more volunteer for their trip to Haiti. The trip fit snugly into the early part of my summer and immediately eclipsed all other plans I'd been making. I had a position at Park Slope Day Camp as a performance specialist all lined up, four Variety Shows to produce in July, some vague plans to go camping as well as a couple of carpentry projects. Enough for me to be busy, but all very familiar plans.

Well, it's now been about three weeks since I've been back from the Haiti trip and I'm still reeling from the work we were a part of in these communities. Operating as the "psycho-social" support for the outreach work that Terre des Hommes, a Swiss humanitarian organization, is doing with children in various communities, we shared our light-hearted tactics and tools with their workers. Their [Terre des Hommes] health education work is focused on fighting a cholera epidemic that is having devastating effects on many communities. With resources so scant, there is violence breaking out between communities that in an ideal world would join together to help lessen their individual burdens. In fact, the two communities in which we were working had these problems.

Photo courtesy of Billy Schultz
I can only hope that the exercises, games and fun we had with their community leaders, and the shows that we helped them put together with the children might in some way have a lightening and empowering effect on their situations. Can overcoming personal limitations in a workshop add up to a sum greater than its parts? My fingers are crossed and I look forward to further involvement with Clowns Without Borders. Their partnership with Terre des Hommes is something I believe has great potential in a place like Haiti, where the economic situation is extremely dire, but the spiritual one is bursting at the seams.

I'm looking forward to another season at The New Victory Theater. It'll be my second and I'm enjoying the challenges and growth that is possible working with such an intelligent and energetic group of Teaching Artists.

Billy, on the left. Photo Courtesy of Billy Schultz
Click here in order to read more about New Vic teaching artist Billy Schultz's trip to Haiti and Clowns Without Borders.

Further Reading
The White House relief efforts and The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund
"Art After the Quake" on New Yorker
Haiti Earthquake Relief One Year Report from The Red Cross

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! Love all the pictures and posts!