The Memory Project: Haiti

Emily Parke, Staff Writer

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The members of Milford’s National Art Honor Society have recently been taking part in The Memory Project to extend the reach of the art department to the rest of the world.

Founded in 2004 by then college student, Ben Schumaker, the Memory Project connects students to disadvantaged youth from around the world in a unique way: art. The organization assigns art students from hundreds of different high schools a child to create a portrait of, either though painting, drawing, or a variety of different mediums. Then, the portraits are hand-delivered to the children to keep for themselves.

For many of the children, the portraits will be one of their only special possessions. The Memory Project reaches out to children who have been victims of extreme poverty, violence, or neglect. Having portraits made by students across the globe is a reminder that the children are recognized and valued, and it is a memorable piece of art to reflect on later on life. For the art students, the Memory Project encourages kindness and compassion, and it promotes global awareness.

Milford’s NAHS reached out to Haiti through the Memory Project. Eighty percent of Haiti’s population lives below the poverty line, and children often face the worst of poverty’s consequences. Half of Haiti’s children are not vaccinated, and ten percent of all children die before the age of five. Recent natural disasters have killed many and displaced even more. The Memory Project aims to restore hope and positivity into the Haitian children through portraits that reflect the children’s individuality and reminds them that they are supported by students across the world.

The NAHS’s thirteen radiant portraits of the Haitian children show pride and joy in their faces, not sadness or struggle inflicted by poverty. The portraits show youth as optimistic, unhardened, and strong enough to persist.