October 26th, 2010 | by Anna Kramer
Photo: Anna Kramer / Oxfam America
When I close my eyes, I can still see the rubble art. Bright fragments–now scattered across a table in the back room of the Miami, Florida, community group Konbit for Haiti–these chunks of concrete were salvaged from the streets of Port-au-Prince after the January earthquake. Now, each painted with a different scene, they hummed with a kind of contained energy: dancing human figures, trees bending in the wind, a seed bursting from its pod.
Beside me, Leonie Hermantin explained that a Miami-based non-profit had brought the pieces here to sell at an upcoming art show. All the proceeds will go back to the artists, she said—back to Haiti.
In fact, even while we contemplated the quake’s aftermath, the country was facing another crisis. A cholera epidemic in the Artibonite and Central Plateau regions has now infected more than 3,000 people.
“The epidemic is not this natural disaster,” said Hermantin, deputy director of the Lambi Fund of Haiti. “It is something that comes from poverty, and a lack of government planning. … It is rooted in the neglect of rural communities.”
Read the rest of this entry »
July 16th, 2010 | by Guest Blogger
Jeanot Dossus works on a bag. Photo by Jane Beesley/Oxfam
Dealing with household waste in the camps for people left homeless by the earthquake that hit Haiti in January can be a big problem. Oxfam’s public health teams are working with locals on ways to manage it, including with children who are doing some creative recycling. Oxfam’s Jane Beesley, a photographer and story-gatherer, reports how in one camp, a young participant has taken that creativity to a whole new level.
Recently I gave a talk about Oxfam’s work in Haiti. It was the fourth or fifth I’ve done since returning to the UK. Among the many stories was one that seems to capture everyone’s attention—the story of Jeanot Dossus, a 15-year-old boy in Don Bosco camp. The public health tent there was filled with children absorbed in a variety of activities. In the middle of the tent sat Jeanot, totally focused on what he was doing. With meticulous care, he was folding strips of cardboard wrapped with pieces from empty crisp packets then weaving them into what is obviously a bag–a glorious green basket-weave bag. Read the rest of this entry »
October 15th, 2008 | by Anna Kramer
Check out this painting by Ashley Cecil, which was commissioned by Oxfam for a global project using art to show the connection between climate change and poverty. Ashley’s gigantic canvas (it’s four feet by six) will join others from around the world at the next big UN meeting on climate change, which happens this December in Poznan, Poland.
“Farming is hard these days because of changing temperatures, but it’s often the sole survival for people in rural areas,” says Ashley. “I wanted to show that the women are not harvesting crops the way they had hoped. They’re holding a bowl of dust, because this is what they’re left with… In other words, what we’d expect to see is not there.”