West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

MONDAY part 2


MONDAY :: PART 2 :: After clinic concluded for the day, Sonya prepared the art projects for the week. Following a make-shift lunch, we transformed the clinic into an art studio. Soon tables bore bags of earring components, bead trays and other materials for jewelry making. The goal for the week was to engage both sighted AND non-sighted students in all of the projects – in all honesty, we were a little nervous that we’d bitten off more than we could chew! Only time would tell.

Peter, one of our newest team members—a researcher at St. Jude’s Memphis who is fluent in Kreyol—and Hilarie, a French speaker, went in search of some budding artists to begin the project after their classes ended for the day. Soon, the studio filled with blind kids who were eager to give jewelry making a try. 

Working one-on-one with an interpreter, each student chose a set of earring components. In each set, one earring was pre-strung so they could feel the beads and their sequence. Their nimble fingers moved over each bead, feeling the size and unique shape. Soon the students were deftly sifting through the trays of loose beads searching for the first bead in the sequence. For some, this was a BIG challenge – many of them are seed beads that are very tiny! Thankfully, their perseverance won!

Even with a few false starts, every student successfully put each bead on the head pin. If the child made a mistake, we gave them the pre-strung earring to identify by touch and fix their error so the final pair matched. Intense concentration followed until each earring was completed, and each smile of pure satisfaction was worth every moment! 

When a student completed the single earring we had them create the matching one as well. Yes… we disassembled the original earring that they had used as a go-by so students could do it all over again, to gain proficiency! It was such a joy seeing the children gain confidence and work more efficiently on the second earring. When finished, they were eager to move on to the next pair, letting their fingers run across the new set of beads. The tactile nature of the project was a hit, even if they couldn’t appreciate the beautiful color combinations.

Before leaving St. Vincent’s for the day, students asked what we planned to do with the earrings. They were delighted that their work would be gifts for St. Vincent’s staff—teachers, administrators, caregivers, cooks and washer women—at the end of the week! 

By the time the bus arrived to take us back to the guesthouse, we affirmed that every hour of prep work back in the US, every dollar spent on the materials, every moment of volunteer training and every second spend with the students making the earrings was SO worth it for every satisfied smile on the kids’ faces.

Feeling the beads to understand the sequence.


One of the many angels of the afternoon!


Locson and Alison helping the first student get started.


His first completed earring!


Hard at work in the heat.



Peter and Hilarie helping out.


Making progress.


Ready for the next pair.


Practicing fine motor skills.


Beading = done!


Sonya with the first student to complete a pair of earrings!




She was SO shy.


Rosana working hard, smiling all the way.


Beautiful green angels held by a true angel!


You can see the pride in his expression!


Threading a bead.


Pure concentration.

Sonya Yencer

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