This article is written by Xander, Håkon and Rebekka who are in Haiti as part of the programme ‘Screen – Connecting youth through film’. Read more about Project Haiti’s involvement in Screen at our here.
To be exact, one month has now passed since we arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We, by the way means Xander from South-Africa, Håkon from the North of Norway and Rebekka from the South of Norway. Because of our background in filmmaking and project developing and of course our wish to contribute on something great, we´ve come here to Port-Au-Prince, to Project Haiti to participate on the Screen Project to help out as much as we can on every level possible, develop films with the youth and at the same time have our own projects on the side. The goal is to make the youth understand the tool that film can be. Film is a way to make your voice and your meanings get heard.
It feels like it’s been a whole lot more than a month but at the same time it feels as if we arrived just one week ago. The time is measured in experiences and a lot has happened.
We had a kick-start, starting the first day. Rebekka met the youth group just a tiny hour after she was picked up at the airport. This is how it is and how it’s been since then. We just have to jump right into situations and figure it out from there. So Screen 2014 has definitely started and we love it.
The people of Etap Jenes are super! The junior group with the newest members are around the age of 12 to 14 while the senior group is a bit older and some of them already have some experience from participating on the Screen-project before. At the beginning we had only divided Etap Jenes in one junior and one senior group. But now that we´ve started developing scripts and want to start shooting the short films for the festival at the beginning of December, we´ve divided into four groups. We foreign participants, Xander (South-Africa), Håkon and Rebekka (Norway) have divided the youth among us so we have one group each plus two of the leaders from Etap Jenes are leading the last fourth group. Sometimes there are some funny misunderstandings considering the communication. But most of us speak English and we Norwegians and one South-African are getting creole lessons 6 hours a week, which means we are learning and “nou ap eseye pale kreyol”
(=we are trying to speak creole).
Within the month we´ve had here everything has been exciting and new and some things had taken time to get used to. For instance the heat has been a challenge. For now we are just accepting the fact that there’s nothing to about the sweating and we are embracing the sun and really appreciating when thunder and rain kicks in some days. We are in love with the food. Especially the chicken, the bananas, mangos and zabokas (avocado) bring great joy.
Apart from these factors, food and weather conditions, we are learning to adapt into the Haitian way of being. From the stories the Etap Jenes youth tell us and the stories of other people we meet we are learning more and more about this beautiful country, its history and its culture. Also through developing ideas for films together with the youth we are learning a lot about their dreams, their stories and their lives which is sometimes very close to our own stories and sometimes very, very far away. But the good thing is that this is an exchange program, we are learning from them and they are learning from us, whether we are sharing life stories, film knowledge or just good times. The gap between a “us” and a “them” is getting smaller and smaller the more we are working together.
Of course there are some times, where everyone feels a bit lost, but that’s the way it is when trying to make movies.
You stumble, fall and rise – all together as a team.
We have to month left here. That’s something we really don’t like thinking about, since we are having such a great time here, but its still a long way to go before the project comes to an end. To top off the project we are organizing a film festival in the beginning of December and are already starting to plan it and are very excited about it. There’s not only going to be a screening of the films we are making but also a theatre play, written and directed by Stefania (on of the leaders of Etap Jenes) and furthermore there will be a dance and drum show from the LEAF group. We are all looking forward to the festival but mean while there are two long, fun and challenging months to overcome before it.
To sum it up, we are doing greater than great and love everyday here. There are always new challenges and happenings and we embrace the time we´ve had so far while looking forward to the next two months and not so much looking forward to our departure.