Archive for the ‘Haiti’ Category

Poetry Friday: Art – and Poetry – in All of Us

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Our Book of the Month for November is Children of the World (Art in All of Us / Universe Publishing, 2011), a superbly presented tour of the world through the eyes of children from each of the 192 countries featured. The book’s compilers, photographers Anthony Asael and Stéphanie Rabemiafara, visited schools as a project within their Art in All of Us non-profit organisation, and this resulting book features their own stunning photographs and a breath-taking array of children’s artwork and poetry.

All the poems are shown in their original, often hand-written presentation, with a typed English translation/transcription. They offer insight into the culture and major landmarks etc. of each country, and the children’s love for and pride in their homelands shines through. As I said in my recent review, “The poems especially offer amazing potential for empathy and peace – particularly when comparing the children’s voices with political concerns and conflict around the globe.” You can read the whole review here – I just want to highlight a few quotations from the poetry for this week’s Poetry Friday, turning to pages pretty much at random, because it’s so hard to choose…:

Bagirova Nilufar, aged 10, writing about Azerbaijan:

Our motherland is like a mother to us
Our mother is like motherland to us
Both are venerable
For the love of Azerbaijan

When there are no battles
The people is happy
When there are no battles
everyone is delighted […]

Pierrre Bréchel Chéry, aged 10, writing about Haiti:

[…] I shall always return to your feet
Even when I go very far away
To come and praise
The sweetness of your plains.

Dear Haiti I love you
Your fresh mountains
Sweetening our nights […]

Shi Yong, aged 9, about Malaysia:

[…]Food in Malaysia is very delicious,
Some food is nutritious.
Satay, nasi lemak, curry noodles, and curry fishes,
These are the most popular dishes. […]

Marie Williams, 13, writing about Vanuatu:

Vanuatu, the Untouched Paradise

Vanuatu is one of the countries in the Pacific Islands
The islands are green as a frog
There is no war and starvation
People live peacefully,
you can hear laughter of children
And a friendly smile from people
Everywhere you go.
We claim ourselves to be Ni-Vans with black skin
And have strong and healthy bodies
That’s why we keep our tradition and culture alive.
Vanuatu, we will never give up on you
Like in our motto it says, “In God we stand.”

Children of the World is a joyous tribute to the world’s children and makes inspring reading, both for children and indeed adults.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Laura Salas at Writing the World for Kids – head on over…

Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach Program Has New Feedback!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The Spirit of PaperTigers (SPT) Outreach program seeks to further the overall goals of the PaperTigers Program: bridging cultures and opening minds, promoting greater understanding and empathy among young people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. More specifically, SPT outreach works to advance education through books and reading, and development through clean and accessible water.

Since 2009, the PaperTigers Program has put books into the hands of young readers through schools and libraries, encouraging literacy, developing understanding and making reading a lifelong habit.  Taking this work a step further, SPT outreach is seeking to ensure that, in areas where there is water stress or water scarcity, the children to whom the books are sent will have access to clean water and good sanitation. The possibility of effective education in certain parts of the world is linked to the basic realities of food and water.  By focusing on books and water together – nourishing both the mind and body – SPT continues to promote literacy and encourage children to become “hungry readers.”   Thus our Outreach motto: “Through Books and Water, Education and Development.”

For more information please head on over to our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach page. You can also read the latest feedback (and see photos!) from the following Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach participants:

Matènwa Community Learning Center’s “Garden for 10 Families” project ~ Lagonav, Haiti. This project was initiated in May 2011 and directed by Christine Low and Abner Sauveur, founders of  LKMPD  (Matènwa Community Learning Center). An August 2011 update from Mr. Sauveur reads:

“Good afternoon all supporters of vegetable gardens on Lagonav. It is a pleasure to show you how the gardens are reaching several corners of Lagonav. We thank you for how you have helped us with seed and money and visits to learn from other gardeners. Families are now harvesting tomatoes, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach and a variety of other legumes. One family sold 400 gouds worth of carrots in one day. Many people are especially motivated to make vegetable gardens this year. We believe it is thanks to your support that we are progressing with so many people on the island. Thank you for your help.”

Tuba City Public Library – Navajo Reservation ~ Tuba City, Arizona, USA. 

Trish Polacco writes:

“I appreciate your program, it brings smiles to so many children. I am interested in participating in the PaperTigers Book Set project again this year. We’re a small library with a small budget and programs like yours truly mean so much to us. Thank you so much for your support in adding and improving to our collection.”


Week-end Book Review – Eight Days: A Story of Haiti by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Alix Delinois

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Alix Delinois,
Eight Days: A Story of Haiti
Orchard Books, 2010.

Ages 5-11

When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Haiti-born author Edwidge Danticat struggled to find a way to help her daughters make sense of it.  In her Author’s Note at the end of the book, she explains that she wrote Eight Days: A Story of Haiti as a response to her five-year-old daughter’s concerns: “I carefully told her about a few people, among them some children, who had been miraculously rescued.”  The result is this story of a young boy who is rescued after being trapped for eight days, during which hope, luck and his memories and imagination all play a part in his survival.

The story begins with the boy’s rescue – the accompanying illustration of an apparently international press pack gets the point across that his survival is newsworthy.  The questions asked will resonate with young readers: “Were you afraid?  Were you sad?  Did you cry?” The boy’s response forms the framework of the story, as he relates one activity/memory for each day.  This device is the perfect vehicle to show how he and his friend Oscar used the power of their imaginations to separate themselves from the reality of their situation: but it also allows the blur between imagination and reality to come through in the narrative.  So, for example, they spend Day 5 playing soccer with their friends.  “Oscar felt really tired and went to sleep.  He never woke up. That was the day I cried.” Or again, on Day 6, he is in the countryside playing with his sister and getting “soaking wet and muddy”, catching “a mouthful of rain”…

Illustrator Alix Delinois, who was also born in Haiti, brings the boy’s imaginings to life.  His palette of almost overpoweringly bright colours conveys the hyper-reality of his memories of what are, after all, very real people and events.  This interplay between the boy’s imagination and his physical situation allows Eight Days to be absorbed and pondered by young children at just that age when awareness of the human cost of natural disaster is dawning; and it also makes it a good book to read with older children.  This is a book for sharing.  It will raise plenty of questions, as well as perhaps the need for reassurance, and some searching of young readers’ own imaginations.

Marjorie Coughlan
October 2011

Guest Post: James Webb from ShelterBox about his recent trip to Haiti

Friday, May 7th, 2010

ShelterBox LogoToday we welcome James Webb to the PaperTigers blog. James works for ShelterBox, a charity based in the UK that delivers survival boxes, each containing a tent and other life-saving equipment, in the immediate aftermath of disasters around the world. The signature green box has become an iconic presence in such situations, with hundreds of thousands of people receiving crucial assistance in many different countries.

This year is ShelterBox’s 10th anniversary: to celebrate they have set up a 10-month Challenge with UK scouts. Little Brother is taking part in this with Cubs and I have got to know much more about the charity, as a Cub Leader. We are hoping to raise enough money to pay for a whole box so that we will be able to track “our” box to its destination…

When James, one of the Scout Challenge coordinators, emailed to say that he was about to leave for Haiti, I asked if he would send us a few words on his return: and I’m so glad he did as I didn’t know about their Classrooms in a Box before. Thank you, James; over to you:

When I was deployed to Haiti in mid April as a ShelterBox Response Team member, I was shocked by the level of destruction still evident over three months after the earthquake devastated the country. Rubble is still everywhere and there are still thousands of people desperately in need of shelter.

While ShelterBox specialise in emergency shelter, we also send Classrooms in a Box which help children continue their education and provide some sort of normality for people who otherwise have lost everything.

In my 12 days in the country I visited two schools which were each severely damaged by the earthquake, leaving them dangerous to use. One of these schools was operating from a large tent instead, which had very little access to basic materials such as pencils and notepads. We immediately provided the school with another large tent and are planning on giving them a number of children’s packs which will each contain a small blackboard, note pads, crayons, pens, rubbers and a number of other items.

So much has been affected in Haiti but the people’s attitude is still inspiringly positive. Having the opportunity to make a difference by providing shelter and basic materials was a huge privilege and the experience of a lifetime.

ShelterBox in Haiti delivering Children's Packs

ShelterBox in Haiti delivering Children's Packs

The photos show smiling children who have just received the children’s pack – and if you watch this video, you can see what an oasis these packs provide (not to mention the incredible journeys the boxes often go through to reach their destinations). “For children who have lost most, if not all, their possessions, these small gifts are treasured.”

Also, don’t miss the Young ShelterBox area of the website, which includes teacher resources. ShelterBox has expanded hugely in the last ten years and now has nine affiliates across the globe – check out their individual websites via ShelterBox UK’s homepage.

When asked about where they would like a Spirit of PaperTigers book set to go, both Bolormaa Baasansuren and Katie Smith Milway chose Haiti so it’s great to be able to announce that a set will be winging its way to the Matànwa Community Learning Center there in June.

Thank you again, James, for sharing your eye-witness account with us. Our thoughts go with you and all your colleagues at ShelterBox as you carry out your vital work.