Tragedy in Haiti Creates Powerful Art

The world tends to feel incredibly big – especially in an era when we are spending more time alone and at home and where the things that make us different – income, culture, access, – are shifting how we are dealing with a universal issue. One of LEAF’s missions is to make the world feel smaller by connecting global communities through shared experiences, music & cultural art. At times, remembering that we are all humans can make us feel closer together, but then there are other times that we have to remember how different our lives can be simply based on what part of the world we find ourselves in. 

At the beginning of November, Port-au-Prince high school student Evelyne Sincère was kidnapped and held for 4 days, beaten, and murdered. Her body was then dumped on a heap of trash on the side of a road. Sincère was gagged, blindfolded, beaten on the sole of her right foot, and according to reports, possibly raped repeatedly during her captivity. According to Sincere’s sister, Enette, her captors asked for $100,000 in ransom but because she couldn’t afford it, she was able to negotiate down to the equivalent of roughly $300 U.S. That being said, she and her family still needed time to raise the money but were unsuccessful in gathering the necessary funds. In the early morning of Nov. 1, Evelyne Sincère’s captor called. He told Enette where to find her abandoned body. The discovery of her body on Nov. 1 went viral and has become a rallying cry for justice and reform in Haiti. 

In the last year, there have been 162 kidnappings recorded in Haiti — 55 of them women, 12 of them minor girls. In October alone, 21 kidnapping cases were recorded, according to figures tracked by human rights groups. Five of the victims were women. Four were minors. 

This tragedy strikes close to home as LEAF International has had a presence in Haiti since 2013. LEAF International, Prosjekt Haiti (Norwegian non-profit), and Boukman Eksperyans (Haitian musical group) all partner together to implement and sustain the 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.

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. The youth in this program have come together to create a music video and join the public outcry coming from Haiti. 

A Message from LEAF’s Global Engagement Director, Schree Chavdarov:
“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.”

Enjoy the video:

Mayani is a Maasai boy from longido Arusha. He went to boarding school at 6 years old and lost his Maasai language and tradition. Since joining the LEAF program, he has learned to sing Maasai songs, practiced the ‘jump’ tradition and wear Maasai shukas (traditional clothing). Mayani is extremely happy and is currently teaching other youth the culture.