The Art Creation Foundation For Children
By Tricia Brick
The Art Creation Foundation for Children (ACFFC) is an arts education nonprofit serving children in need and their families in Jacmel, Haiti. Colorful mosaics created by teenagers in the foundation’s young adult programs brighten walls all over this historic city. In addition to offering arts instruction, financial and leadership education, and community-building, the ACFFC provides its students with basic necessities, including desperately needed daily meals.
A 2016 Buddhist Global Relief grant supported the ACFFC’s feeding program, which provides hot, substantial meals, six days a week, to 60 children in need.
The program provides a daily afternoon meal of rice, pasta, or cornmeal, vegetables and a protein. The protein is often beans or a hot dog, or other meat when it is affordable. A breakfast of grain and fruit is also served on Saturdays and daily during the summer.
“The food program is all for me,” said Marie Clara Francois, who is 10. “I think my family is poor even in comparison to the families of other kids at the foundation. To tell you the truth, sometimes my mother cannot even buy a piece of candy for me. I remember a night when I woke up and told my mom I was hungry. My stomach was very empty. She told me, ‘Take some salt, put it under your tongue, and try to sleep, because I have nothing here to give you to eat.’ I cried a lot because I was starving.”
The feeding program allows children to attend school who previously spent their days begging for food or seeking other ways to feed themselves. The program also helps to keep together families who might otherwise resort to giving their children up to orphanages or to become servants for wealthier families because they cannot afford to feed them.
“The food program represents a big part of my life,” said 14-year-old Jesula Jean. “My parents are poor, and I’m the youngest in my family. They can’t give me what I need as a young girl. The food that I receive from the foundation helps my parents to do other things for me, for example, to save some money to pay the rent at the place where we live. They don’t [have to worry] about food for me, because the foundation gives me every day. I hope that the program keeps going, because they help many vulnerable parents in Jacmel, and me also.”
The director of operations for the ACFFC notes that funding from the U.S. has recently decreased as donors have turned their attention to human and legal rights groups in the U.S. Many of the children are aware that the refuge they find at the foundation is going through a period of uncertainty.
“Because I don’t live with my parents, if I am still alive today it is because the food program is still there,” says Bazile Dieussauve, a young girl who lives with relatives in Jacmel. “Sometimes when I come home from school, when I get there I don’t find anything to eat, and I have to quickly go back to the foundation to find food. Please, all the donors, please give a little push, just to keep the food program alive.”
Tricia Brick is a writer and editor in the New York metropolitan area and a volunteer staff writer for Buddhist Global Relief.