OJFA in Rainbows

The Rainbow Brigade || Lakansyel Squad … One of Project HOPE Art’s happiest afternoons in a long time. With just $20 worth of scrap fabric, 2 pairs of scissors, a flair for playing dress up, elaborate and inventive braiding skills, some portable lights – we wrapped the orphanage in rainbow braids.
Love Wins!

Our Art Director, Rachel Znerold started the Rainbow Braid idea in the States with various Musical Performers. We brought the idea to Haiti, on a small scale, in homage to the deep cultural history of African Braiding. Braiding hair was one of the few practices that slaves could hold onto and continue to openly practice in the New World.

We wanted to create a project that the girls at the orphanage could participate in with almost zero instruction and put their own flair and ideas into it. We wanted a whimsical, happy project. And we wanted to infuse solar lights into the project outcome as this orphanage does not have electricity and it gets dark at 5pm.

So here it is, the The Rainbow Brigade || Lakansyel Squad:

Braids are regarded as a cultural trait of the African people, and they can also be a fashion statement. The history of African tribes and the cultural significance of braiding is deep and long.

Africa is a large continent, which consists of innumerable tribes. The Massai and Zulu are among the primary tribes. Others include:

Afar
Anlo-Ewe
Amhara
Ashanti
Bakongo
Bambara
Bemba
Berber
Bobo
Bushmen
Chewa
Dogon
Fang
Fon
Fulani
Himba
Ibos
Kikuyu
Pygmies
Samburu
Senufo
Tuareg
Wolof
Yoruba

Tribal girls have varied cultures, and the hairstyles are unique and used to identify each tribe. Braid patterns or hairstyles indicate a person’s community, age, marital status, wealth, power, social position, and religion.

Elaborate patterns are done for special occasions like weddings, social ceremonies or war preparations. People belonging to a tribe can easily be identified by another tribe member with the help of a braid pattern or style.

Immense importance is given to the custom of braiding. The person who braids hair performs it as both a ritual and a social service. It is an art form taught by the senior female member of the family to her daughters and close friends. The person who braids well is considered an expert. The man or woman who braids does it as a social duty. No rewards are expected.

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Mesì Gueldy René et Deesse Aishar Delismond for helping ??

-The Rainbow Brigade || Lakansyel Squad

The Traveling Rainbow Cabinet of Fun

pha-art-center_final-concept_b-1-e1355946878102 The only thing that beats a good plan, is a better plan. We find that collaboration brings us closer and closer to the best plans in the world.

Enormous thanks to Sam Bloch and Elizabeth Marley for collaborating on the early vision of our art center / storage container. Immense, gratitude to the NGO family over at Communitere for supporting our ideas, visions and plans. Especially Delphine Bedu and Caroline Etienne for handling so many nitty gritty details on our behalf.

In 2013, our rainbow cabinet was built by master craftsman, Jason DeCook and then painted in the colors of the rainbow by our friend, Aimee Gaines. Our Lady of Art was created by our friend Julie Koopman and she stands watch over all the visiting artists and their projects.

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From our little spot in the workshop at Communitere we launched a number of projects, including Let There Be Light 1 and Let There Be Light 2. Thank you to artists Jenni Ward, Luc Winter, Racine Polycarpe, Claudel Cassius, Jason DeCook, Aimee Gaines, Shrine, Moon and Jade for all the hard work to make art in Cite Soleil.

857808_10152525576805567_1944484788_oFor the last two years our rainbow cabinet has lived at Haiti Communitere stuffed to the brim with paint, paper, pastels, brushes and a ton of glitter.
For the last two and a half years we have held puppet shows, dance parties, recycled trash makeovers and more than one bicycle blender fruit smoothie extravaganza.

Haiti Communitere was a perfect home for us and all of our sparkling trinkets of inspiration and creativity. Free spirited artists must keep moving, so onward we go.

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On February 15th our little Cabinet of Fun bid adieu to HC. We hope it left a trail of glitter so everyone could find their way to us in our new home in Pacot. Our cabinet is now parked in the Pacot neighborhood next to the Hotel Olofson. The keepers of the cabinet are 20 young ladies who are excited to put its contents to good use.

And with our move, comes new projects and collaborations …

  • We will be working with Emy Morse at her art school in Montan Noir.
  • We are also launching an art project with Human Rights activist and FOSAJ artist, Charlotte Charles and The Haiti Initiative’s Kara Lightburn in Jacmel.
  • And this summer we will be launching a summer gardening class with Rebuild Globally and SOIL.
  • “These are the days of miracle and wonder. This is the long distance call.” -Paul Simon

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    Photo Philanthropy Essay | Wings for Tacloban

    Each year, PhotoPhilanthropy puts out a call for visually expressive photographic essays that tell the story of non-profits the world over. This year, Jamie Lloyd and I put together a joint essay about our time in Tacloban, Philippines.
    Enjoy!

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    Soaring above your everyday struggles, free like a bird. It’s an idea we’ve all wished could come true in times of difficulty and stress. Fueled by generous donations, Artists Jamie Lloyd & Melissa Schilling (along with community organizer, Justin Victoria) were able to gift children (and their families) living in the tent cities and bunkhouses of the Tacloban disaster zone the ability to fly above their problems. Wings for Tacloban are imaginary art wings created for children.

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    It has been one year since Typhoon Haiyan, the world’s biggest-ever storm to make landfall, struck the central Philippines – killing more than 5,200 people, displacing 4.4 million and destroying $547m in crops and infrastructure.
    In Leyte Province, 70 to 80 percent of the area was destroyed. Tacloban, the capital of Leyte, where five-metre waves flattened nearly everything in their path, suffered more loss of life than any other Philippine city. Outside the town centre, in a hillside cemetery, city workers have dug a mass gravesite which stretches along 100 metres.
    Much of Tacloban has been turned to rubble, leaving many survivors homeless and dependent on aid.
    Visiting the city, it is clear that – despite the help of the international community – it will take a very long time for the town to recover.

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    About the Bunkhouses of Tacloban
    The bunkhouses are made of corrugated sheets, plywood and coco lumber and measure
    8.64 square meters. 27 Bunkhouses in the San Jose District of Tacloban with water and electricity have been completed as of April 1, 2014. Another 66 remain to be built and equipped with basic necessities. Each bunkhouse has 24 units, although big families are given two units. The partition per unit was collapsed to accommodate bigger families.
    We be painted broken down concrete walls, plywood, an old kitchen wall — with chalkboard paint in a variety of colors. Once dry, we cured the walls and armed the occupants of the bunkhouses with chalk. We hope to encourage creative thinking and hope.
    Close to 2 million families were affected by the weather disturbance, considered to be the strongest typhoon on record to make landfall. 30 countries have already pledged financial and humanitarian aid amounting to 2.366 billion to victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

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    Artist Statement
    The Wings: Project HOPE Art is an art collective that responds to disaster with pencils, paints, music and imagination. We want to remind the children of Tacloban that they can overcome obstacles by gifting them the power to fly with wings. These wings do not just live on the chalkboard or wall. These wings belong to them and will allow them to fly and rise up above their problems, environment and situations. They should use their wings not just to solve their own problems but those issues facing their communities at large.
    Nothing can stop a large group of living angels.
    The project outcomes are multi-leveled.

    In the simplest terms children are encouraged to have a fun portrait snapped, printed and handed over. A memory to serve as a reminder to overcome obstacles and head towards dreams and goals. Our mobile printing studio was set-up onsite inside the tent cities and bunk houses. Children watched as each digital image was edited on smart phones and ipads and then sent to the mini-printer. A 4X6 image was spit out seconds later.

    In addition to print portrait images, community message boards were created and left behind in every area. A frank discussion was started amongst parents, teachers, community organizers and children regarding their personal paths since Hurricane Yolanda. Lessons were taught about transforming simple, everyday ingredients into action-based toolkits.
    We painted everything from a de-constructed kitchen wall in the No-Build Zone to the shell of a school classroom in Palo. We created double sided chalkboards with plywood. We painted over graffiti with bright primary colors and created sleek, glossy spaces to draw, write and dream.

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    See our Wings Art Project in Haiti, featured in School Arts Magazine: http://www.schoolartsdigital.com/i/141579/54

    Haiti Five Years Later: Women on the Ground

    For just $10 you can hear the powerful words of four incredible women.
    Join us as we inspire, educate and present: Haiti!

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    Tue, Dec 2 2014 – 6:30pm
    Malya Villard-Appolon, Founder of KOFAVIV
    Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis, Ph.D., Former Prime Minister of Haiti
    Nicole Phillips, Esq., Attorney for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
    Megan Coffee, M.D., Ph.D., Founder of Ti Kay Haiti

    “Gason konn bouke, men pa fanm.”—in Kreyòl
    “Women’s work never ends.”

    On January 12, 2010, Haiti was hit by a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake, killing approximately 150,000 people and crippling the nation. The earthquake and its 52 aftershocks exacerbated longstanding challenges of housing, sanitation, health care and gender violence. Five years later, Haiti is still picking up the pieces, often with women leading the charge. Hear the incredible stories of women on the ground, from Dr. Megan Coffee who went to Haiti to treat earthquake victims and never left, establishing and running a tuberculosis clinic in Port-au-Prince, to Malya Villard, a victim of rape in Haiti who boldly founded and now runs KOFAVIV to uplift victims of sexual violence, despite threats against her life for doing so.
    Tickets Here

    Learn More about This Event on December 2nd, 2014:
    CC Site: http://bit.ly/Haiti-info

    Facebook: http://bit.ly/Haiti-fb

    EventBrite: http://bit.ly/Haiti-EB