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  • Writer's picturePeterson Jean-Pierre

A Home for Art & Technology Education

Jakmel Ekspresyon is proud to present our nearly-completed building project: a huge new arts and technology education center in the Raquette neighborhood of Jacmel. The building will house our Creative Coding Project, alongside all our other activities.

These are trying times in Haiti –– politically, socially and economically –– so bringing this building process to near completion has been especially challenging. The cost of imported materials like cement and steel, for instance, is incredibly high. We have nonetheless persevered and completed all but the final cosmetic touches on our building with the highest attention to structural integrity and good design principles. And we are so excited to begin offering classes in this new space!

This building has been a dream of ours for a long time. Previously we had been renting spaces in town to hold our classes. Our search for land to build on took five years! We finally were able to forge a partnership with another organization called UBRD, a community development collective in the central Raquette neighborhood of Jacmel, to acquire this wonderful piece of land where we can most effectively serve the urban youth population. Then we began raising money for construction, which took over a year and a half. We ended up raising just over US$120,000 to get this building where it is today.

We still have more to do to finish the final, cosmetic layer of cement, paint all the surfaces, add a "cooling roof" made of corrugated tin to the top of the building, and make some other quality-of-life improvements. But all the structural elements are there, including a solar-powered electrical system, plumbing, and custom-built decorative ironwork designed by Haitian-American artist Alexandra Antoine. To get things completely finished, we will need approximately US$40,000 more for materials and labor.

This summer we have been able to resume our arts and technology camp for kids using the new space, and it has been incredible to be able to provide them with adequate space in a peaceful environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city. We teach them basic principles of science and engineering, and lead them in practical activities like designing and building their own houses out of cardboard, screen printing, and basic computer programming. For instance, we taught them the visual programming language Scratch, which is designed to get children started in coding.

We are also preparing to relaunch our shop classes, which are geared toward teenagers and young adults. Initial offerings for the late summer and fall will focus on sewing for accessories like backpacks and handbags, including specialized techniques such as macrame, as well as botany and chemistry for natural products like soap and cosmetics. Our full roster of courses is scheduled to resume in January 2024, which will include shop classes introducing a wider variety of trades for young adults, as well as computer, screen printing, painting, videography, photography, dance, and English classes for all age levels.

We are happy to be partnering with Cultural Capital Haiti to complete this vision, and we ask for your support! You can donate right here.

––Peterson Jean-Pierre

Assistant Director, Jakmel Ekspresyon


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