Art has been used to express emotion and ideas since the beginning of time. An organization called Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) tries to remove obstacles keeping youth in Haiti from living rewarding and successful lives. The founder, Paul Haggis, has won Oscars as a writer and director in Hollywood, and many of his film industry friends (such as Olivia Wilde and Charlize Theron) support APJ.
The APJ website cites the inability to attend school as a main factor behind severe poverty in Haiti. Uneducated children grow into adults with extremely limited job opportunities and almost no resources available to them to increase their income. Such low incomes for such large numbers of people leads to incompetence in terms of medical care, nutrition, health and overall well-being. People sink deeper into poverty with no way to climb out, and more and more children are born into the cycle that APJ is trying to end.
Statistics given by the APJ claim that 70% of residents in Haiti are unemployed. This number is huge– and hugely unacceptable. Other daunting numbers describe a deficit in clean water, lack of access to advanced medical services, healthy food and clean living environments.
APJ has implemented the Academy for Peace and Justice, where every student’s education is fully paid for. Membership is increasing by the hundreds ever year. This will close the gap of the 80% of students who leave school because of lack of sufficient finances. There is also an Artists Institute that teaches film and audio engineering for free to college age students, giving them real world opportunities as well as the ability to tell their stories in a business oriented world.
APJ also contributes to the funding and operation of St. Luke’s Hospital, providing citizens of Haiti with modern medical care, qualified doctors and affordable services. Improving community leadership by educating community residents is another way the organization helps from within the society.
Artists for Peace and Justice believes that the Haitian people have so much potential and that they can help themselves rise out of poverty with the right support. APJ does not just provide funding and walk away– they integrate themselves into the daily lives of the residents in Haiti and give them the tools to help themselves.
– Kaitlin Sutherby