Empowerment Through the Arts For Women and Girls

Lidè is an educational initiative in rural Haiti that uses the arts and literacy to empower at-risk adolescent girls and help them transition into school or vocational training.  Established by Author Holiday Reinhorn, Actor Rainn Wilson and Executive Director Dr. Kathryn Adams in response to the devastating earthquake of 2010, the Lidè program seeks to uplift women and girls who have been denied equal access to education. Lidè trains and employs Haitian teachers and collaborates with grassroots schools and programs, such as “Smallholder Farmers Alliance”, “Fonkozé”, and “H.E.L.P.” In Lidè programs participants gain life and leadership skills and helps foster the community support they need to begin their educational journey.

The Lidè Foundation believes that arts in education inspires personal empowerment, resilience and self-efficacy.  Lidè means both “Leader” and “Idea” in Haitian Creole.

About

In 2007 Rainn Wilson became involved with the Mona Foundation, a non-profit organization which supports grassroots educational initiatives worldwide, and in 2014 he joined the board of directors. Along with a very successful career in acting (you may recognize him as Dwight from “The Office”, “Backstrom”, or from “Six Feet Under”.) Wilson has been very involved in working with youth through the arts. Rainn and his wife, Holiday Reinhorn are the founders of Lidè.

rainn-wilson.jpgRainn Wilson, Co-Founder
holiday-reinhorn.pngHoliday Reinhorn, Co-Founder

Author Holiday Reinhorn visited Haiti for the first time in 2009 with the Mona Foundation and has been committed to serving grass roots educational initiatives in the country ever since.  She returned to facilitate a UN Foundation-funded program, Girls United, after the earthquake of 2010, and has continued to serve the most remote areas of Haiti, where she co-founded the Lidè program with Dr. Kathryn Adams and her husband, Rainn Wilson. Holiday is the author of BIG CATS: Stories from Free Press.   Her fiction has been featured in numerous literary magazines and has been anthologized in THIS IS NOT CHICK LIT, THE WORST YEARS OF YOUR LIFE, and NAMING THE WORLD.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is the recipient of a Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellowship, The Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction and a PEN/Amazon.com Short Story Award, among others.  Holiday has taught creative writing at The University of Wisconsin at Madison, The University of Iowa and The UCLA Writers’ Extension Program.

kathryn-adams.jpgDr. Kathryn Adams, Executive Director
soeurette-rigodon.pngSoeurette Rigodon, Head of Counseling

Dr. Kathryn Adams, Executive Director

Dr. Kathryn Janene Adams is the director of Lidè. She has been serving in Haiti as a long-term specialist/volunteer for programs in the mental health and education sectors, coordinated and co-facilitated Girls United: Haiti (a UN Foundation supported short-term project), and provided trainings on the effects of trauma in Haiti as well as other international crisis and conflict zones. Up until she left to direct Lidè, Dr. Adams was a tenured professor and coordinator of the Writing Center at Moorpark College. She also teaches psychology and educational psychology in the Counseling Graduate Program at California Lutheran University, specializes in the psycho-social responses to trauma as applied to education, and facilitates therapeutic writing groups for veterans and for survivors of sexual trauma. Dr. Adams has worked as a therapist with children in foster care and their families, counseled children in elementary school settings, and directed an academic support center. She is a writer and has presented at numerous academic conferences. Kathryn Janene Adams holds a M.A. in Writing, a M.A. in Clinical Psychology, and a Doctorate in Education (specializing in educational psychology and faculty & student development). In May 2012, Dr. Adams received the Moorpark College Professor of the Year Award.

Soeurette Rigodon, Head of Counselling

Soeurette Rigodon is at the start of her career as a psychological counselor. She graduated in 2013 with a degree in psychology from the Université d’Etat d’Haïti, faculté d’ethnologie, and has additional teacher training from the organization CAFT. She completed her internship in psychology at Cellule d’Aide Psychologique (CAP), as part of an effort to provide psycho-social support to at risk youth through school enrichment programs. She also worked at Anis Zunuzi school in order to transition former street kids back to school and help them adjust to reunification with families. Soeurette grew up in a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince known as Citi Zemor, a low income industrial area. The area and her life was, as she puts it, “difficult”.  When she speaks about her hopes for the young women in Lidè, she says, “If you make a child feel comfortable and accepted, if you allow them to be who they are and never be ashamed of who they are, they can grow up to be a good person.”

Programs

Lidè programs serve out-of-school and “at-risk” adescent girls. Girls in Lidè discover their unique voice through creative writing, theater, photography and film. These disciplines become a gateway into an academic education as well as a means for improving literacy, leadership and critical thinking. Lidè activities come together in values-based themes that help adolescent girls explore the life questions that all youth face on a local and global scale.  Our program work begins with understanding the needs of a community and then training teachers to provide arts programs to adolescent girls. We then mentor these programs toward sustainability. As programs continue, they provide a safe space where Lidè participants find their human dignity and inner strength, gain learning and life skills, and walk a path toward resiliency, self-determination, efficacy, and leadership through service.

Teacher Empowerment & Student Learning

Lidè empowers teachers with a tool for developing their own creative ideas into effective curriculum. This tool helps them develop values-driven activities that achieve skill-based outcomes, and cognitive and psycho-social goals.

Partnerships

Girls are not just learners, they are whole human beings, and the life they live outside the Lidè program affects who they are within the program. For this reason, Lidè embraces partnerships with organizations and local resources in order to build a support network for its participants.

Lidè Partners include…

  • A World at School    
  • FONKOZE
  • Smallholder Farmers Alliance
  • J/P HRO
  • CARE
  • Center for the Arts, Port Au Prince
  • Mona Foundation

We also utilize guidance from the community, from local governments, and from UN agencies in the areas we serve.

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Lidè Arts

Rainn Wilson on why the arts:

I thought, "Why are we teaching the arts to girls who really need jobs and shoes and homes and skills?" Boy, was I proven wrong. The program was incredibly successful. Watching these adolescent girls, many of whom were illiterate and had their own children themselves, and most of whom had suffered greatly in their short lives, blossom over the course of 10 days was absolutely thrilling.

Why? Well, the arts give you a voice. They allow a person to express their heart and soul and identity. Most education in Haiti is simple, hollow, repetition-based reading, writing and arithmetic. To truly flourish, one needs to find one's inner strength. The arts help provide that link. My heart ached when, one day, we asked the girls what their favorite color was and we soon realized that most of them had never been asked that question before. No one cared about their opinions about anything. By the end of the week, the timid, fearful, shut-down girls whom we had first tip-toed into the program were showing off their photos, poems, theater exercises and art projects with passion and confidence. They were empowered by the arts and expression. Ready to begin to learn.

Rainn wrote an article for Huffington Post the expands on these ideas. To read, click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rainn-wilson/leader-idea_b_4848907.html.

 

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Get Involved

Volunteer

Lidè welcomes highly skilled Master Artists interested in volunteering to teach Master Classes for the on-ground team and program participants, especially in the fields of photography, drama, creative writing, visual arts, Haitian culture, health and hygiene and leadership training. We also sometimes have openings for university interns or recent university graduates in areas that meet a current needs. 

To learn more, contact   Volunteer@LideHaiti.org

Get the Word Out

  • Host an awareness night with friends
  • Invite us to speak at your university or school    
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Sign the Up for School Petition (link coming soon)

To learn more about getting the word out, contact  info@lidehaiti.org

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5737 Kanan Rd., Box 501
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
info@lidehaiti.org