Young Haitian artists help revitalize the Saint-Michel Hospital in Jacmel

January 11, 2017

Story by Esther Vigne and Pierre-Paul Ancion

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The town of Jacmel is known as the papier-mâché capital of Haiti, but it is also home to the Art Creation Foundation for Children (ACFFC), which works with young artists who use ceramics to create murals.
Jacmel is now not only known for papier-mâché, but also for its mosaics, thanks to the efforts of these teenagers whose work is helping revitalize the tourist town. ACFFC murals can be found in public spaces all over the city, enhancing its artistic beauty and cultural charm.

That’s why the Canadian Red Cross called upon the young artists when the time came to decorate the Saint-Michel Hospital to make it a welcoming space for patients.

The pediatric wing and three large walls in the atrium are now decorated with magnificent mosaics designed by the ACFFC youth in collaboration with the hospital staff and the True Mosaics studio.

“The mosaics represent the ACFFC youth and our talents and I’m happy they chose us for the project,” said Michaud Joassaint, one of the artists involved in the project. “I worked with love and joy because I knew this piece would be valued for a long time. We and the Foundation want to honour this work because it is important and will always be there.”

Michaud also added jokingly that although he’s never been treated at the hospital, he wouldn’t mind getting sick now.The young artists are proud to have helped revitalize the hospital. The project gave them a chance to experiment, improve their technique and also boost team spirit within their organization.

 “We had lots of fun, we all talked while we worked, playing together, cracking jokes, it was great,” said Michaud.
The youth are confident the mosaics will help Jacmelians take ownership of the new space.

“The Jacmel hospital is amazing, we’ve never had a hospital like this and we hope it will bring change because in the past, things were difficult,” said 23-year-old Foundation photographer Fedno. “This mosaic was made by us, the ACFFC youth with a lot of talent, who don’t want it to go to waste.”

Jamson Jeanty and Donald Alcindor, who have been Foundation members for more a decade, created the murals with both their hands and their hearts. They hope people who sit in the room will find some cheer despite being sick.

“There’s never any contentment or joy in hospitals. We did these walls for the patients, so they can forget about their illnesses for a moment.”

They expressed deep gratitude to the Canadian Red Cross for allowing their foundation to create the murals.

“This will do great things for us, thank you for giving us this opportunity to prepare for our future,” said the two young creators.

The Canadian Red Cross implemented a $35M integrated health program in the Sud-Est Department. The program is designed to facilitate access to quality services for mothers and children as well as to improve community health and first aid. It focuses on four key elements: community health, health centres, the reconstruction of the St-Michel Hospital and the training of its staff, and the strengthening of public health institutions. It was set up with support from Haitian and Canadian expert partners who had been involved in Haiti for several years: the Ministry of Public Health and Population, the Haitian Red Cross, the Canadian Red Cross, the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre, the University of Montreal International Health Unit and the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency.

For more information about the Red Cross’ efforts in Haiti and to learn about our progress, see our Haiti: Seven Years After the Earthquake report.