While this was a summer of discontent in Haiti with massive demonstrations arising from an overnight 38% to 51% price hike on gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuels, intrepid music students, teachers and volunteers from Haiti and around the world have gathered to teach in summer camps throughout the country. As the Holy Trinity Music School staff put it, "Cho pa cho, kan an koumanse" - hot or not (referring to the demonstrations), camp has begun!
I can't tell you how much all of us here at BLUME Haiti appreciate the outpouring of support that enabled us to feed and house 120 students for four additional days at the Cemuchca Institute of Music camp in Cap Haitian until they were able to return to their homes or to go on with me to the Holy Trinity camp in Corporant. One of the things that keeps me coming back to Haiti every year is the intense desire of musicians here to learn. In spite of the many political challenges and natural disasters facing Haiti, there is a very strong drive on the part of the students, teachers and program administrators to continue to work, to continue to strive to create beauty for themselves and for others to enjoy. The progress students are able to make in two or three short weeks of camp (for many, one of the very few opportunities they will have to get lessons throughout the year), is astounding!
BLUME Haiti board members taught in nine different camps in Haiti this summer from Cap Haitian in the north, to Jacmel in the south with Corporant, Carrefour, Gonaives, Mirebales, Croix-des-Bouquets and Marmelade in between. Thanks to our generous supporters, BLUME Haiti has been able to offer over 100 scholarships this summer, enabling teachers and students from music programs across the country to take advantage of lessons and pedagogy sessions with an international group of seasoned teachers and performers.
From Cemuchca in Cap Haitian where we focused on scholarships to woodwind players (students and teachers) to take advantage of the TradeWind Ensemble's three-week residency, to the Holy Trinity camp in Corporant where we continued to support wind players and added string pedagogy students to the mix, to the Dessaix-Baptiste camp in Jacmel where the focus we added jazz band to the curriculum, your support makes a real difference in the lives of so many Haitian teachers and students. The "ripple effect" is tangible here. If we can help a musician develop their teaching skills, that one person will go on to have an impact on all of their students and, since even the younger students at the music camps are often teaching assistants in their home programs, if we multiply the number of scholarships we are able to give by the number of other students each individual is able to reach, the impact becomes clear.
To close, a note from the end of July where I had a brief moment of repose, writing from Croix-des-Bouquets where I spent a week teaching at the Ambassador's Music Institute summer music camp. The working day was over, and I was on the roof of a friend's house, enjoying an icy cold Prestige (Haiti's awarding winning beer), watching the sun set and taking in the sights and sounds of a bustling day winding down. The pigs, goats and chickens in the empty lot next door were also preparing to turn in. Moments of relative quite like this are to be treasured and help us recover from the full day of work just past and to gear up for the day to come.
We here at BLUME Haiti, and the teachers, students and staff at our partner schools, are tremendously grateful for your support. Thank you for helping us make the powerful and transformational experience of music education more accessible to young Haitian musicians!
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