08/20/2012 10:48 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Visit to the Ciné Institute and Preparing for Camp

We are back in Port-au-Prince after an amazing morning in the Haitian coastal city of Jacmel, where we visited Ciné Institute, Haiti's only film school. The school was founded by David Belle, a documentary filmmaker and philanthropist, and aims to give Haitians a voice through the power of film. Paula, the school administrator, took us for a personal tour. The campus was once a scuba center, and the pastel-painted wooden buildings, which used to house divers, are now administrative and editing rooms. Each house is named after a famous filmmaker, such as Jonathan Demme and Akira Kurasawa. There is an open classroom under a thatched roof with a screening area, and the campus is dotted with outdoor sitting areas where students can gather to socialize and discuss their work.

We visited with David and discovered that his vision for the school is expansive and inspiring. There are plans in place to make the campus green and to develop a two-year degree granting program in music/sound and production. His energy and determination are invigorating.

On the way back to Kenscoff, the base of operations for Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO), we detoured through downtown Port-au-Prince to see some of the vestiges of the earthquake-destroyed Palace. It looks like time has stopped with this view - nothing has been repaired. I always photograph the Palace with each visit to Haiti and then I cross the plaza and to see "Neg Mawon," the sculpture of a slave calling out to all those enslaved around the world to free themselves. I wanted my sons, Ben and Des to see this magnificent piece of art, which was miraculously untouched by the earthquake.


It was nice to return to Kenscoff. My boys see this as home and I am happy to say, I agree. We had a wonderful visit with WWO staff and partners while eating a gourmet meal cooked by Romel and discussing the workings of our first camp in Haiti. The session will involve 90 campers with HIV infection from St. Damien Children's Hospital and Gheskio, a famous HIV/AIDS medical clinic in Port-au-Prince.

Today, we will have a session at WWO's Toy Library (Lidoteque) with our sons and the very experienced youth trainers. I am excited to see our boys learn how to use the Toy Library to engage with the children from Cité Muse, the nearby tent community.

Paula from Ciné Institute reminded me on Sunday that this work is a lifetime investment. The work of WWO is about relationships -- family, friends, and communities. Why not invest in these relationships for a lifetime? It just makes good sense. For children, the relationships must always endure to help them feel safe, secure, and attached.

Dr. Jane Aronson is founder and CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation.