In the heart of Haiti’s capital, the usual cacophony of gunshots has been replaced by the sounds of music, thanks to the efforts of the nonprofit Music Heals International.
As violence and poverty plague Port-au-Prince, this after-school music program serves as an oasis for children, offering respite from the grim realities of their daily lives. With gangs recruiting children as young as eight, this initiative provides them with a positive alternative.
Children from across Port-au-Prince gather to express themselves through music, embracing instruments like drums, pianos, and guitars. Eleven-year-old Woodberson Seide, his face beaming with joy, passionately strikes a cymbal as he dreams of owning a drum set. Despite the daily backdrop of gunfire in the city, these young musicians find solace and purpose in their music.
In a city where up to 80% of the territory is controlled by gangs and violence claims thousands of lives, the program offers a safe space for children to gather twice a week for two hours of musical immersion. Families are hesitant to send their children to school or allow them to play outdoors, leaving few opportunities for enjoyment. Nearly 200,000 people, including Woodberson’s family, have been displaced by gang violence.
Woodberson’s father, Jean Williams Seide, shares his pride in his son’s newfound musical pursuits. From a young age, Woodberson displayed his musical inclination, often improvising with makeshift instruments.
The music program, led by Emmanuel Piervil, not only nurtures talent but also improves academic performance and, importantly, provides a shield against the allure of gang life for these vulnerable youths.
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty that grips Port-au-Prince, music offers these children a harmonious escape and a chance for a brighter future.