By Geri Hurlbut, Art Therapy
Our Creative Collaboration Grant, Arts for Haiti, provided some of the funds that allowed a few art therapy students to return to Haiti in December, 2011, following a partnership launched last spring with Lumiere Ministries, a medical mission program, and Emporia State University. We traveled with music therapy students from Converse and were joined by members of the Emporia State University graduate art therapy program. Converse students Rachel Collins (English major) Ann Pittman, Brittney Silver and Brittney Washington (Art Therapy majors) along with Molly Glibbery and Donna Jackson (Music Therapy majors) under the guidance of Professors Hurlbut and York, returned to Kings Hospital and Kings Garden Boarding School in Port au Prince, Haiti.
We had the privilege of training medical staff and caregivers, bringing together the benefits of art therapy and music therapy. We learned that some of the children we had worked with in March 2012 had opportunities to be adopted and come to the US to finish their schooling. We also saw firsthand some of the progress that has been made in rebuilding the city. Much needs to be done to re-establish the infrastructure, but the hearts and spirit of the Haitian people we met were warm and welcoming.
Brittney Washington, Converse II Art Therapy major, reported feeling moved as she recognized the genuine need of those still dwelling in tent cities. Brittney Silver, Senior Art Therapy major, shared that she learned that the most important tool she could develop was flexibility since the need to change plans to meet the needs of the community was necessary throughout our stay.
One 15-year-old Haitian student who had lost his mother at an early age expressed that the art and music helped him to express things that he did not otherwise have words for. As much as we feel we were able to bring to them, we feel they returned as much—if not more—through the warmth of their hearts as they shared their stories, music and hospitality with us.