Your traditions are very important. It’s like you forget who you are if you don’t know your traditions. We are losing our traditions. They just don’t know their traditions. They like hip hop – the dress – the talk – they are disconnected from their roots.


Port-au-Prince | Founded 2013 | 40+ Students (Ages 15-25) Served

Why Haiti?

“Why does LEAF International not work in Haiti”, asked performer Emeline Michel. Years later and many searches for the best partner, acclaimed Haitian musicians of Boukman Eksperyman alongside their dear friends at Prosjekt Haiti connected with LEAF, and this brilliant trio designed LEAF International Haiti. Prosjekt Haiti is an extraordinary NGO that meets the needs of its families and youth in a holistic way, and the addition of Haitian cultural arts was a natural complement.

Program Overview

LEAF International, Prosjekt Haiti (Norwegian non-profit), and Boukman Eksperyans (Haitian musical group) all partner together to implement and sustain the LEAF International Haiti program. Twice a week, members of Boukman Eksperyans give drum and dance lessons to children in Project Haiti’s Youth Club, free of cost. These youth are extraordinary and dedicated. The long-term vision for the program is that they will eventually serve as music teachers for younger children. The youth perform in the community at least 4 times each year carrying the traditions of many historic festivals such as the Rara.

ONEmic Studio Haiti

The LEAF Haiti ONEmic studio was started in 2014 by the demand and interest of students in the
International program. 1 Room, 1 mic, 1 laptop (with great music production programs), drums, & a
guitar complete this unique studio. Led solely by students, the studio serves as a resource for youth/teens sharing their personal stories & using music as a tool of self-expression.

“Music inspires us because it’s about what we are living, what we experience, and what we want to change.”
-Wendy Lapointe
LEAF International Haiti Student


From music instruments to child sponsorship, our people-centered programs depend on generous givers like you to grow and thrive. Donate today! 100% of your gift goes directly to supporting Global Arts education & preservation!

LEAF is a 501(C)3 charitable organization. Your generous gifts in support of cultural arts education go directly to these programs.

Program Highlights

  • Prosjekt Haiti is releasing the organization to the community – the culture program will be lead by culture keeper BwaGris 
  • Program relaunched despite complete tragedy and devastation still on the island
  • Program focus this year: Yanvalou, Nago, Maskaron, Ibo, Rara, Banda, Congo, Petro – there’s a traditional Afro-Haitian dance that defines Voodoo rituals. These are rhythms of joy, which bring a lot of happiness and you can see that in the kids’ faces when they dance and play the drums.
  • Prosjekt Haiti has spent 20 years creating social change for communities in Haiti. As we celebrate this dynamic milestone & partnership, we give gratitude to the youth for believing in the power of cultural preservation.
  • Haiti has been experiencing immense turmoil for the past few years and the climate of violence is worsening. At LEAF, we stand in solidarity with Haiti. Despite the climate, young people have found hope in creating music as a positive outlet. These young people have been part of Prosjekt Haiti (LEAF partner) for the past 20 years. Their perseverance and strong foundation of faith is impeccable. 

Stanely Lubin becomes a culture keeper teaching a 2-week cultural exchange at LEAF Arts & Park camp. Stanley was one of the first youth in the Haiti program in 2014. He is now teacher
mentoring the next generation of drummers.

May: LEAF International Tanzania and Haiti ONEmic studios participated in the first-ever ONEmic Studio master-class in collaboration with Dirtwire. The crew created magic as each artist represented their country with great pride and passion. The accumulation of this class was a dynamic performance on the main-stage at the 48th LEAF festival. Check out this report to learn more about what’s happening with LEAF International Haiti.

7 LEAF International Haiti members teach cultural exchanges at several locations in Asheville
including the Christine Avery Center, Burton Street ONEmic Studio & a 5-day residency at TC Roberson High School. These cultural exchanges were followed-up with dynamic performances
at the 46th LEAF Festival.

3 long time LEAFers, 2 Staff, 1 LEAF Schools & Streets Culture Keeper, and 1 LEAF Schools & Streets youth journey to Haiti for the LEAF International Cultural Expedition. This year all participated in Prosjekt Haiti’s annual summer camp – supporting global arts education for more than 80 youth from Saint Luis du Sud. As the community continues to recover from the damage of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the importance of preserving Haitian arts & culture is needed more now than ever.

4 LEAF International Haiti youth led a residency with partner LEAF International Tanzania | Arusha at Odyssey Community School. The group taught drumming and dance with the 35 Asheville youth.

2 LEAF Teaching Artists visit Haiti for a Cultural Exchange trip to engage with LEAF International
program partners to cultivate global citizenship and learn and share teaching techniques with
one another

4 LEAF International Haiti students participate in the first-ever multi-tiered cultural exchange at October LEAF. Students from Guatemala and Haiti came to Asheville to teach a residency with a local school, highlighting and sharing their unique cultural arts traditions, and performing at LEAF Festival.

2 youth group leaders from LEAF International Haiti come to Asheville to intern with LEAF for the months of April & May, learning the ins and outs of festival organization and production. The internship provided a wonderful opportunity for these two young leaders to receive further training in the cultural arts and the cultural sector of the economy, knowledge, and experience that they will be able to bring back to Haiti.

LEAF International Haiti comes to May LEAF and shares in meaningful cultural exchange with
LEAF Schools & Streets youth, Teaching Artists and our local community.

LEAF International Haiti begins!

Meet The Culture Keepers

Bois Gris & Johanne Dejean – For over 30 years, Boukman Eksperyans has been a powerful
social voice for Haitians, and the musicians that make up the group Boukman Eksperyans have
been active change agents in their community for decades. They embody and preserve Haitian
traditions with grace and dedication. For years, they have dreamed of starting a cultural program with youth, and with the collaboration of LEAF International and Prosjekt Haiti, that dream is now a reality. The 2 main members of the Boukman Eksperyans serve as Teaching Artists for our Haiti program are Johanne Dejean – teaching dance and Bois Gris – teaching Haitian drum traditions.

Stanley Lubin has been a student in the LEAF International Haiti program since the beginning (2013). Stanley came to Asheville and shared authentic Haitian rhythms influenced by their independence in cross-cultural exchanges throughout the city including the LEAF Arts & Parks Summer Camp. His determination, dedication, & passion for cultural preservation could be seen through his teachings. Stanley will continue on as a teacher of Haitian culture specializing in drumming.