Jean Davis made the following observations with comments from Deb:
Meeting with health care workers in clinic (Tuesday)
Jean: It’s a challenge for the health care workers when going to the tent cities and people say they just need food (not condoms).
Deb: There was a woman who came up to us rubbing her stomach – who got annoyed with us because we didn’t bring any food with us – and that we came in and offered nothing.
Jean: Some laughing and snickering occurred in response to questions about how the community responds to mental illness. Not much in the way of service for those with mental illness (somehow the group seemed to separate out those who were mentally ill from those who had been traumatized). Mental illness is seen as the devil at work and people are often alienated from the group when struggling with mental illness. Children struggling with these issues are taken out of school and put to work.
Meeting with children #1 (Wednesday)
Directive: “The large mural paper is the water. Please draw a shape in the water. This will be your island. Your island is for you to create anything or anyone you want. It is only for you to create within – no one is allowed to draw in your space. However, the water (outside of your space) is community space and anyone can create anything in any way in this space.”
Children participants mimicked leader’s images that were used as an example (i.e. boats). This limited the ability to fully assess some of the images created.
The actual content of artwork created seemed developmentally appropriate, but the line quality and figural representations seemed a bit delayed. Self representation as seen in objects created seemed undersized and encapsulated.
Deb: This group was from the school and the group was all girl who were from the neighborhood. I was struck by the caring of the younger girls by the older girls.
Jean: Contact occurred in facial relationships and verbalizations amongst participants and was represented in brining friends to their islands, but minimal contact was made in physical art-making together in the community space. This may have been, in part, due to the language barrier and how the directive was communicated. However, in dialoguing with Carine, she felt this was primarily a cultural response and that importance is placed on school and work while free play and recreation is less important. Overall, lack of contact in the community space seemed indicative of minimal exposure to relating in this way.
Deb: I think we were a mystery to them and that we’d need more time to develop relationships to get valuable information. While they seemed engaged – they were doing what they were asked to do.
Meeting with community members (Friday)
Jean: Churches are places where community happens (150 every weekend), but not much in the way of public, recreational space – particularly for children.
They clearly communicated their frustration about the lack of collaboration that occurred between outside groups and those associations within Haiti that already exist – which contributes to the lack of sustained help that is being received.
Deb: This seems to be a key problem – there seems to be no effort to communicate what is going to happen locally. Three huge dump trucks were sitting in the road between the school and the clinic the entire week. No one knows who owns what or what the status of property is and there a many people who have overstayed their welcome in temporary tent clusters. Absolutely no place to play, no place to gather, everything is tents and rubble.
Meeting with children #2 (Saturday)
Jean: Overall, interaction/contact occurred at the verbal level and in some of the repetitious imagery in the artwork, but, again, not in the physical art-making itself.
Deb: In fact the littlest kids covered their work so no one could see what they were doing. The oldest seemed quite proud of their drawings and happy to show them off.
Timeline (created by group leaders in response to questions about the day in the life of the children): Mornings included prayer. Otherwise, daytime schedule was quite normal. Majority placed themselves in the early to mid-day spaces (play, meals, homework).
Deb: Again we had no time to develop trust – it would be good to find a way for them to draw the activities – or perhaps given more time photograph there day (this was the original plan).
Jean: Mandala: Children seemed very engaged in art-making.
Deb: This was a great exercise – the kids were engaged and went into a lot of detail. See blogpost :J’aimerai avoir une clarinet…” It’d be fabulous to have the circle be 15 feet in diameter, so they could create a paths etc. Again, more time – next trip:-)
Vast majority of imagery was houses – many of which were stereotypical in execution. This may have been indicative of a number of things including typical age appropriate imagery, the cultural message about how things should look and, probably most importantly, the importance of a stable home.
Children’s artwork seemed quite encapsulated (clung to the edges of the mandala) and restricted. The center of the mandala was empty for quite awhile as children created around the edges. Finally, when artwork was made in the middle, the image of a home was created.
This may be indicative of the need for stability and discomfort in wide open spaces. Also, this may be a sign of the way community currently occurs – in close clusters and in less central ways.
One participant who came late made artwork outside of the circle – which may, perhaps, point to feeling like an outsider.
Of note: Leader participation in art-making, although perhaps helpful in joining participants, made final mandala assessment somewhat difficult to assess because some imagery was not created or instigated by the participants themselves.
Deb: I agree, the kids seemed very happy to follow instructions – however they were the most engaged in this project and had very clear ideas of what they wanted.
Jean: A number of children drew and discussed their interest in music. Also, internet cafes were discussed as a place where they would like to “hang out”.
Deb: Dance school, library, football fields, police cars, ambulances, swimming pools. Everyone wanted access to the internet…