Dispatches from the Haiti Innovation Hub: Day 3

The LitCamp started with a nice surprise as the first group of girls to arrive were from the LitClub hosted at COHP and they all knew us from earlier in the week. It is always wonderful to begin the morning hearing your name enthusiastically shouted by little ones and being mobbed with hugs.

Everyone settled into our space, reading, doing puzzles and eating breakfast as we waited for the rest of the girls to arrive. We put on our LitCamp t-shirts and excitement gathered in the air.

We made a big circle and had a rousing morning meeting of songs and games, introducing the day as an extra special day of fun and joy together as a community of women and girls. The young women leaders really took charge in wonderful and poignant ways from the start of the day all the way through. They are learning so much by being a part of LitWorld and TOYA.

During our LitClub time, I worked with the oldest girls (young women, some are 20). They are a deeply complex group, each one struggling with her own life challenges, past, present, future. They have grown so much since the last time I saw them in March. It was thrilling and moving to be with them again. The young women leaders did a read aloud of a Haitian Creole book about a grandfather and his relationship with his grandchildren, and we talked about kind things that people have done for us to express their love, or things that we would do for someone to express our love. Everyone gradually opened up, first to a partner, and then to the group, in beautiful, emotional ways. We made heart maps, and everyone thought deeply about what to put in them, and wanted them to look just so.

We came together again with the whole group for big games and had fun playing Mingle Mingle, Fire on the Mountain, and the Motion Telephone Game. We sang some Haitian songs, and then everyone got geared up for the afternoon with a bit of quiet time with some more drawing and reading and a delicious lunch.

We split the group by age for the afternoon and Yaya and I started with the 15+, Leah and Pascale with 8-14. We made book pages from our life stories that we will turn into a Be the Story mural for the Haiti Hub tomorrow, while Leah and Pascale played the Machine Game and did yoga exercises and sang songs.

We swapped groups and Leah and Pascale led yoga relaxation exercises and sang songs with the older girls while Yaya and I made book pages with the younger girls. With the little ones coming out of Leah's activities, we started them off singing and drawing together. It was incredibly beautiful. Just the most beautiful thing. They were all carefully making their pages gleam rainbows and singing rounds of Tuwe Tuwe and Od Yavo Shalom Aleniu together, fully, fully engrossed and at peace. Leah's group was in the other room in silent meditation listening to us sing and practicing their breathing.

This is all just what these girls and women need in their lives. It is so important for them to have LitClubs. It is so important for them to have each other. It is so important for them to have their mentors. It is so important for them to have us, and to have the structures of support we are working to create for them every day.

--Dorothy Lee, LitWorld's Creative Director