Haiti can be a rewarding but challenging tourism destination. Having an organization to help with logistics and orientation during the first visit can be helpful. The Kiskeya Guest House in Leogane, in addition to offering a nice place to stay outside of Port au Prince, now offers tours that celebrate Haiti's cultural traditions with an emphasis on Port au Prince, Jacmel and Cap Haitien. Haitian anthropologist Jean-Yves Blot an Professor Erold Saint-Louis will lead the various trips and Haitian Creole immersion programs. The agenda for their "Cultural and Mystical Haiti" tour follows. Note: The Kiskeya Guest House is associated with Kiskeya Aqua Ferme, a community initiative devoted to raising tilapia and growing cassava, hot peppers, and sweet potatos.
In Haiti, machetes are ubiquitous and versatile. As Arielle Castro notes below, they are also the "Excalibur of the Caribbean". In the case of Haiti, machetes were common weapons in the struggle for independence. The short film, "Papa Machete", revolves around a Haitian machete-fighting instructor who lives and practices outside of Jacmel. The film producers have also launched a Kickstarter campaign to construct a new training facility. More information on the history of Haitian machete fighting is available here.
Below is an LA Times article about the difficulty and potential of promoting tourism in Haiti. Every country in the Caribbean benefits from tourism to some extent. Haiti's tourism industry could also grow (modestly) over time - with stability, more hotels, and hospitality training programs. Linkages to tourism agencies in the Dominican Republic could also open up cross-border tourism. Thoughts on promoting tourism in Haiti? Post your ideas below.
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is an independent organization that has been dedicated to saving the world’s architectural and cultural heritage sites since 1965. WMF accomplishes this through advocacy, education, capacity building, and disaster response. Each year, WMF releases a Watch List of architectural sites that are at risk. Three Haitian architectural sites were listed on the 2012 Watch List: (1) The San Souci Palace in Milot; (2) the Gingerbread Houses of Port au Prince; and (3) the Jacmel Historic District. Read about these sites and how to get involved in their protection below.
The Ciné Institute, which recently moved to a new campus five miles west of Jacmel, is devoted to developing Haitian film-makers. During the first year, students are immersed in all aspects of filmmaking such as narrative, advertising, music videos and documentary. In the second year, students specialize in screenwriting, directing, producing, cinematography, sound, editing or production design. Recent clients include Arcade Fire, BET, Brandaid Project, Brasserie Nationale d'Haiti, The Clinton Foundation, Google, Medicos del Mundo, and USAID. Below is an update from Founder David Belle and links to new films produced by Cine students.
Established in Jacmel in 1987, the mission of PAZAPA (Step by Step) is to support the treatment, education and development of children with disabilities and to integrate them into their communities. During the earthquake, the PAZAPA School was damaged beyond repair. PAZAPA has since acquired new land and established temporary structures within which to continue classes. Both the special education school and the school for the deaf are functioning. Fortunately, none of the PAZAPA staff were hurt and stipends were provided to help them rebuild their homes. Below are excerpts from PAZAPA’s recently completed 2010 Annual Report.
Lens, the New York Times photography blog, recently covered a Zanmi Lakay photography project in Jacmel. Through Zanmi Lakay, 28 Haitian children were given cameras and asked to document different aspects of daily life in a city trying to recover and rebuild. A description of the project is below. The photos are well worth a look and you can view them by clicking here. Who knows? Perhaps one day, some of these children will become photojournalists themselves.
The Cine Institute is Haiti's only film school. Its students have produced everything from commericals to documentaries. The Institute, which is in Jacmel, took heavy losses during the earthquake but continued to operate. The students produced video reports, assisted visiting journalists, and helped distribute relief supplies. Click here to see video clips of the students in action and reporting on the earthquake's consequences for Jacmel. As Annie Nocenti, a Cine Institute instructor puts it, "We were a film school until yesterday. Our new mission is to do recovery stories...hopefully stories of Haitians rebuilding." Below is a thank you letter from the Institute to its partners.
Many interesting films have been made about Haiti - but comparatively few of them have been made by Haitians. Someday, this may change. Jacmel's Cine Institute, the only film school in Haiti, is teaching students how to make documentaries, films, and even commercials. Donations help to keep the tuition free. These initial efforts may be short, but they could represent the first steps in the careers of a new generation of Haitian film-makers. Below are links to and summaries of the 2009 Spring Semester films.
While being a child in Haiti is hard enough, being a disabled child is much more so. There are few organizations providing the health, education, and vocational support that disabled children and their families need. PAZAPA, based in Jacmel, has been supporting programming for deaf, blind, and developmentally disabled Haitian children since 1982. We first wrote about PAZAPA on October 13th. Below is an update.