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VOICE OF HAITI

I’ve invited a crew of brilliant artists and thinkers, including representatives from Parson’s School of Design, to help us further facilitate my vision of developing a vocational school for artist education.

We begin our voyage in Jacmel, meeting up with the amazing David Bell, touring the beach town and visiting with local crafts people. The following day we head to the school that David founded, the Ciné institute, where I have the privilege of speaking to the students about the power of creativity, and then it’s off again to the city of Port-au-Prince.

Over the next several days, I lead the parson’s team all over Port-au-Prince and the surrounding villages to give them a first hand introduction to the lives and lifestyles of the local Haitian artisans. Visiting paper måché designers, leather workers, hornisons, jewelry and ceramics designers, we discuss the craftspeople’s latest creations, equipment needs, as well as taking time to collaborate and come up with inspiring new design possibilities. We held several meetings-of-the-mind with both social leaders and the leaders of the Haitian artisans to come up with the best strategies to both provide the next level of artist training and development, as well strategies for implementing sustainable business models. I was so inspired listening to everyone’s visions for Haiti’s great and prosperous future!

One of the most moving moments of this trip happened when I finally had the opportunity to visit the Instituion Mitxte Unions des Aportes in Cite Soleil, a school our friend Caroline Sada (and a local priest) built. It exists in the poorest neighborhood in the western hemisphere, but the richness of these beautiful children’s spirits filled me with joy. While the school still has much need for support, these children’s lives have been forever changed by the commitment of Caroline. *to find out how you can contribute to Caroline’s school, please email the Urban Zen Foundation, info@urbanzen.org

After all these years, I finally had the pleasure of visiting Haiti’s neighbor, the Dominican Republic… WOW!!!! I can’t believe I never took Oscar de la Renta up on any of his offers to visit! What a stunning country! While in the DR I was blessed with an opportunity to visit fine arts school Altos de Chevon, run by fellow Parson’s graduate Steven Kaplan. It is always so wonderful to witness the next generations of artists.

We pop back to Haiti to finish up with our meetings. I leave this magnificent country with an overflowing heart and visions of magnificent possibilities. Can’t wait to go back to Haiti in a few weeks to shoot the Donna Karan ad campaign, once again with my partners in Crime Russell James and Adriana Lima, to further raise awareness and continue to share the beauty of this extraordinary country.

All my love,
Donna

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