When we arrived at the orphanage in Lerbough, we were immediately taken aback by the tough conditions. It did not seem like a place conducive for growth, for lives well lived. The physical environment was bleak, littered by broken down vehicles and trash. I did not see with my eyes or sense with my heart a vibrant community. When I met Yvelene, a 14 year old girl living at the Lerbough Orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti she seemed much the same. She did not seem fully alive and she was hesitant to engage in the courses that we offered.
However, after a few days of “stirring the creative pot” in this tough place- my co-teacher and I started to witness major transformation. At some point, we stepped aside and watched as kids danced, played, created, and laughed their way through the transformed “sacred” space they had created in their environment. For me, the most beautiful example of transformation happened with Yvelene. On our last day, we were playing a game I call “add a sound.” In this game, participants contribute a unique sound which combines with everyone’s sounds to make a group “song.” At the beginning of the week, it was very difficult to get a unique and confident sound from each student. But, by the last day they were making beautiful and creative noises. When I got to Yvelene and asked her to contribute her sound- she looked at me and smiled…and then she rolled her head from front to back while laughing a hearty, full, and vibrant laugh accompanied by an ear-to-ear smile. She was so alive, so happy in that moment! She found her creative self and offered it to the group with confidence and joy!