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 Founded in February 2013   •  Located in Port Au Prince, Haiti

 40 Youth served ages 15 to 25 
100% of students report that the LI program was their first opportunity to learn these musical traditions!
"Your traditions are very important. It's like you forget who you are if you don't know your traditions. We are loosing our traditions. They just don’t know their traditions. They like hip hop- the dress- the talk – they are disconnected from their roots.-Bois Gris of Boukman Eksperyans & LI Teaching Artist
"Music makes life a little bit happier. It is important to be connecting youth to THEIR cultural traditions.” -Manze’, of Boukman Eksperyans


Thank you to all who helped support the young artists on this amazing journey! 
LIHaitiWholeGroupFunSG12 LEAF International- Prosjekt Haiti young artists visited from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti to participate as performing artists and share in cultural exchanges with local youth. These students are SO extraordinary and dedicated to learning traditional Haitian drumming and dance! We loved their performances on Lakeside Stage, in Eden Hall & at the Members Brunch on Sunday.
What a LIFE-CHANGING & MEANINGFUL journey for all who were involved. Big THANK YOU to the Host-Families who generously opened their homes to this group of LI youth!
*Scroll down for another video of the young artists!

Project Overview

LEAF International, Prosjekt Haiti (a Norwegian non-profit), and Boukman Eksperyans  (a Haitian musical group) worked together to design and launch the LI Haiti program. Twice a week, members of Boukman Eksperyans give drum and dance lessons to children in Project Haiti’s Youth Club, free of cost. These youth are extraordinary and dedicated. The long-term vision for the program is that they will eventually serve as music teachers for younger children. The youth will perform in the community at least 4 times each year. Scroll to the bottom of the page to learn more about the Vision and Dream for this program.

The benefits of this program extend to the local community, including the drum maker commissioned to provide instruments and the women in the tailor shop Atelier Manman Troll (a part of Project Haiti), who will make costumes for the youth. LIHaitiYCOneMicRexSameweb

To continue the amazing work of Ben Gradison and D Street Studios, whose vision was to spread peace internationally through hip hop music, Rex Neu City Mac (a LEAF sponsor) has also provided One Mic recording equipment for the Youth Club. This studio gives young people the opportunity to share their voices with the world, and they have grown very sophisticated in their technological skills.

 Through the project, students gain:

  • Classes in drumming- drums are sacred in Haitian culture
  • Traditional dance classes
  • Reconnecting to local traditions
  • The opportunity to perform in the community
  • A one-mic recording studio
Meet the Students

There are 40 young people in the program, ages 15-25. The students live nearby and walk to the program. If you met these students, you would never sense the real struggles of their lives. The youth come from poor backgrounds and their parents (many of whom cannot find work) struggle to find food for the families. Despite their circumstances, they are vibrant, talented, self-taught, driven, intelligent, kind, and they have dreams. In their realities, the
parents daily struggle to find food for the family (most parents are not working) and lack of electricity forces students to walk to public lights outside to do homework. The families are very happy about the program. LIHaitiBEDrumGalSmilwebe
When asked what people from outside Haiti should know about the country, student Samual Ambriose said, “Haitians work hard, are talented, and are fun. Even amidst misery they can laugh." 

“ The traditional Haitian music is powerful, and important. We should take pride in it, it is special and different from the rest of the world. The music feels holy, something that we own ourselves. And you just HAVE to dance when you hear the rhythms!” -LI Haiti Student, 2013

Meet the Teaching Artists

LIHaiti-LSSYWBoukmanTeachBoySmallBoukman Eksperyans has been a powerful social voice for Haitians for over 30 years. They embody and preserve Haitian traditions with grace and dedication. For years, they have dreamed of starting a cultural program with youth, and their members will be the primary teaching artists for the LI Haiti Program.
The Boukman Eksperyans are: Manze’ (Mimerose) Beaubrun, Lolo (Theodore) Beaubrun, Bois Gris “Hans Dominique,” Laura Beaubrun, her husband Paul, Johanne Dejean and a host of musicians and dancers. Johanne Dejean will be leading the dance classes. Bois Gris will be teaching Haitian drumming traditions.

Experience Boukman's 2013 Carnival Song "Piout Piout."

“Dancing means to me the heart and then you know the steps.” -Laura Beaubrun, member of Boukman Eksperyans

“Music should be something that takes away sadness and makes joy.”  -Youth mentor for the program, Cash


Watch 4 of the the Young Artists in their International Debut Performance, May 2014:

   LIHaitiBEDanceHandsUp 640x480  LIHaitiBEDrumExpoa 640x480

The Vision & Dream

Manze' and Lolo encourage LEAF to think about expanding in Haiti.
The vision is to empower the youth club with their traditions, and train those who are a match to teach Petit Troll's 120 Students ages 6-13. During 2013 summer camp in St. Louis De Sud, we dream to provide Haitian cultural traditions, and during this time find locals who have the potential to be trained as teaching artists. Within a year, LEAF and Prosjekt Haiti dream to "expand the programme to our second school in the south in the future, where we have a school for 200 child
LIHaitiSLCrewwebren, from the village St Louis du Sud. In St Louis we are also in the process of constructing a community centre/guest house, and we will have good infrastructure for such a programme overall, including a stage for performances." - Ingvill. St. Louis de Sud is a beautiful vast landscape with mango trees, palm trees, mountain peaks, and ocean waters. Once the guesthouse is ready, we dream to take LEAF journeys to visit Haiti.

LEAF is confident that music education, experience, and mentoring at Prosjekt Haiti will inspire the participants, community, and environment. The youth will bring the community together by performing concerts and developing skills they might use to pursue music and arts as a possible career. The kids will also be able to use the music in help in healing, understanding their challenges, and to connect more deeply with their beautiful and rich Haitian culture and traditions.

Reflections from the trip and creation of the LI Haiti Program:

"The Boukman family have beautiful generous spirits. Their music is driven by their love and respect for who they are, where they come from and their collective identity. They are so loved and respected by their fellow Haitians, a reflection of their deep connection and commitment to preserving Haitian culture, the land and its history and to sharing who they are with the world." -Tamiko Ambroise Murray

"Haitian drums are special. Congo is the dance of joy; Banda is the dance of rhythm where you shake your body a lot. Vodou means spirit and love. I teach the kids to play the drums and what the drums symbolize. Many people are scared of the drum. Vodou is not “voodoo”. It is not the one on TV. It is spirit and love. We cannot loose our culture. " - Bois Gris, Boukman

“The kids have so much talent. There is nowhere to take it. We hope to show the kids that arts, music, and dance are valuable so they can grow their talent. Then the next step is self-expression. We will teach the youth club first,and they can become teaching artists for the younger kids.” - Ragnhild, Prosjekt Haiti

The group believes that there must be 4 key changes made in the future: "Government, Fun (the more you teach via creativity the more people will engage), Education (train teachers for quality and responsibility), and Spirit and Culture must be included."

Haitian Culture and Community

Haiti is a state in the Caribbean and is situated on the same island as the Dominican Republic, Hispaniola. The Creole word for Haiti is "Ayiti" and means "the country with high mountains". Haiti was the first free, black republic in the world following a successful slave revolt in 1804, ridding the country of the French colonists. The Capital of Haiti is Port-au-Prince. Both Creole and French are spoken in Haiti. The population is a little less than 10 million, and approximately 2.3 million people live in the capital. 80% of Haitians are Catholic, 16% are Protestant, 3% report as "other," and half of the population also practices Vodou. According to 2003 data, 80% of the population is below poverty level. Haiti was tragically devasted by a major earthquake in 2010.

Learn about Haitian musical traditions here: LInat-geo-music

Project Highlights

 LI Haiti comes to May LEAF and shares in meaningful cultural exchange with LEAF Schools & Streets youth, Teaching Artists & our local community.

LI Haiti begins!
Watch Rex's Photoshow
Carribean Traditions at LEAF
Festival featured:
Boukman Eksperyans
Bonga & the Vodou Drums of Haiti



Featured Partners

LEAF International is thankful for excellent partners in Haiti!
Prosjekt Haiti: is an amazing community-driven organization. It is a model of service and continues to grow towards to needs of families in Haiti. The program fosters leadership and has multi-generational community members. Prosjekt Haiti has been creating a thriving supportive community in Port Au Prince since 2000.
Boukman Eksperyans: Boukmans create a worldly high energy sound, fusing traditional Haitian and Caribbean rhythms with rock and reggae. They are all extremely talented artists.
City Mac: Provided One Mic studio gifts in honor of Ben Gradison
city mac

LI Haiti's Wishlist:

•Haitian Drums [$50-200 each]

•Summer Camp Workshops
[$20 per kid]

•Gifts to expand to Prosjekt Haiti's St. Louis De Sud School
[$200 per month serves 200 kids!]

100% of your GIFT goes to LEAF International global ARTS EDUCATION program for kids. Gifts are tax-deductible, and make a direct difference NOW.  
Donations of $20 receive LEAF's Go Global CD by request.

Contact: Donate@theLEAF.org

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