« « A Call to St. Therese Music Ministry Ministry Fair is a HUGE Success! » »

The Boys of Haiti are Coming Back!

September 2, 2008 by admin

Resurrection Dance Theater of Haiti

Art can take you places you’ve never dreamed of going. For the boys of the St. Joseph’s Family and the Resurrection Dance Theater of Haiti, the art of dance has been a part of their salvation. Through the St. Joseph’s Family these boys, who were once abused, abandoned and without hope, have been healed, found a family and now dream of a limitless future. Once their society’s rejected ones, these young dancers and drummers are now ambassadors of their country and representatives of their culture throughout the world.

To see how far they have come in their short lives, you have to understand where they started and what dancing and music means to them.

HANDS THAT HELP, NOT HURT

When Bill was only 2-years-old his father developed a fever and died. Five years later, Bill’s mother came home from work totally exhausted. She went to bed and died in her sleep. Bill was 7-years-old. His sister, the only family he had left, was nine. The death of their mother forced Bill and his sister to be separated. His sister went to live with a friend of their mother and Bill went to live with an aunt.

Bill became a live-in servant for his aunt, who abused Bill both verbally and physically. Everyday he was beaten with a leather strap. One day when he was at the open air market, Bill was befriended by a Catholic nun, Sister Caroline. She helped Bill get into school. Eventually, this angered Bill’s aunt because he was not available to work for her as she wanted. Bill’s aunt told him he could no longer go to school.

Sister Caroline went to talk to Bill’s aunt, but could not change her mind. Sister Caroline saw how oppressed Bill was and her heart hurt for him. A few days later, she saw Bill at the market and called out to him. She told Bill she was going to take him to live someplace else. Bill trusted Sister Caroline. That very day, Bill was brought to St. Joseph’s, a five-hour drive from his aunt’s home.

Today, Bill is the director of St. Joseph’s Home for Boys. He is also the co-director of the Resurrection Dance Theater of Haiti and the St. Joseph’s Community Arts Center. Bill has graduated from high school. He is a wonderful role model for the younger members of the St. Joseph’s Family and a very responsible young man. He is a talented drummer and is the lead musician for the Resurrection Dance Theater of Haiti. His strong hands create rhythms that not only envelop the dancers in the power of the drum, but they also give audience a powerful beat to follow in their own lives.

LIVING THE POWER OF ART

Walnes has evolved into something of a Renaissance man. He’s a talented painter who has had his work featured in two books — A Gathering of Angels and Always Room at the Inn. He was also commissioned by the Presbyterian Church USA to create an original painting for their 2006 Pentecost Offering. He’s a talented dancer who is the principal dancer and co-director of the Resurrection Dance Theater of Haiti. He is also an wonderful drummer. He lends his singing talents to the Resurrection Singers and is a frequent soloist with the group.

Walnes also is a good student who achieves high marks and was also chosen as the president of his class. He has achieved all these amazing accomplishments despite his humble and somewhat dire beginnings. When Walnes was 6-years-old he was sent to live with an aunt because his parents could not afford to care for him. After spending a few weeks with his aunt, she brought him to St. Joseph’s Home for boys and left him there. It was at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys that Walnes discovered the power of art as he began dancing with the RDTH. Walnes, who had always been fascinated by the fine arts and inspired by the beautiful art that fills St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, began studying painting with Ralph Allen, a well-known Haitian artist, in 2002. Walnes’ vast talents were quickly evident and nurtured by Ralph Allen. Walnes has sold his work to art collectors from the United States and Canada.

Walnes’ talents also inspire others. He works with the younger artists at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys to help them develop their own artistic talents. Walnes is also the co-director of the St. Joseph’s Community Arts Center. The arts center is a place for members of the Port-au-Prince community to go to develop their artistic talents and for visiting artists to share their gifts.