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Art therapy camp for Port-au-Prince youth

Haiti, October 1, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps  </span>
    We began each day of the camp with yoga. Visualization, contemplation, breathing and meditation have become an important part of our youth trainings. It’s important to help each child focus and center themselves so they can better cope with moments of trauma and stress. Photo: Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps  </span>
    In this icebreaker, a child lies flat on their back on the parachute and is slowly lifted up by the group. This powerful sensation helps children relieve anxiety, which supports our program’s goal of healing the deep psychological wounds of Haitian children. The joy felt by the lifters also targets the important aspect of children healing each other, and loving doing it. The smiles portrayed in this pictures express joy, connection, creativity, and peace! Photo: Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps  </span>
    The goal of this activity is to empower girls to express themselves in a safe space. We began by having the girls sit in a circle facing each other. The boys sit in an outer circle and listen as the girls shared their thoughts about the role of women in society, their role models, and how it is to be a Haitian girl. Then the boys do the same while the girls listen. Finally, the boys and girls turned to face each other and respectfully discuss what they heard. This engagement was therapeutic and empowering for all present. Photo: Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps  </span>
    The children planted 32 seedlings — Jimpas, loquats, coffee plants, and peach trees — from a nearby ecological farm. These trees don’t exist in the barren slums of Port-au-Price, or in a large part in Haiti, which suffers from severe deforestation. Only 2 percent of the country is forested compared to 60 percent less a century ago. Photo: Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps  </span>
    Our last night in the mountains was spent around a campfire, where children came alive with jokes and stories, melting marshmallows for the first time, and most importantly sharing laughter. These types of gatherings — which are rare in Haiti — enable true self-expression, a major recovery tool used in so many of our Art Therapy activities. That night one of the children, who had lost her leg during the January 2010 earthquake, finally expressed herself after four quiet days. Photo: Mercy Corps

This past August, we took 20 school-age children to a mountainside retreat outside Port-au-Prince for six days of activities designed to heal emotional wounds from the 2010 earthquake. The youth, aged 10 through 16, learned about photography, creative expression, teamwork, leadership skills, gender awareness and healing.