Sometimes a few beautiful words can say it all.
At the end of 2015, the community association Lakou Lapè (which means “Courtyard of Peace” in Creole) began to carry out a project to train young people in Bel-Air, Saint Martin, and Nan Cocteau, neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The project receives support from the Inter-American Foundation (IAF).
Lakou Lapè is training youth in peace building, dialogue, civic education, and other skills to help them develop leadership abilities and to mend the social fabric of the neighborhoods, which have suffered from gang violence. Lakou Lapè supports interventions to reduce conflict within and between communities, and provides safe spaces for individuals and groups to meet and discuss issues.
One young participant, Stanley Delphin, was so moved by his involvement with Lakou Lapè that he wrote a slam poem to pay tribute to the transformation both in himself and his neighborhood thanks to the project’s training and dialogues. The title is “Li Chanjem” (“It Changed Me”). We’d like to share the poem, which not only provides a unique perspective from the standpoint of a project participant, but also speaks volumes about the efforts of Lakou Lapè to reduce violence and channel young people into constructive lives.
IT CHANGED ME
By Stanley Delphin
It hasn’t been long since my world was dog eat dog
Where I could see today but never thought about the next dawn
I was the life of the party, top-notch vagabond
And everyone who saw me said, “This guy can’t be sound.”
An aimless childhood will bring regret when you’re grown up
Failure in life can be a misunderstanding that turns to a blow-up
Life was just a game, didn’t believe anything was dangerous
My liturgy was confrontation: come at me, I get in your face
Early one morning, after rising, my friend took me to a training
I went along with it, didn’t even ask what type of training
Upon arrival, I was greeted with words of welcome, a presentation…
I followed without a sound ‘cause I saw a congregation
I saw participants, facilitators, trainers, directors
I didn’t know what role I’d play. I wasn’t yet an actor.
Lakou Lapè was the one that built this operation
I really wanted to adapt, had to pay attention
They made us talk about ourselves, who brought us, where we lived
They showed us a good time together, put new friendships on the grid
Conflict resolution was the main theme of the training
For me, it’s a great tool to help us start collaborating
It changed me ‘cause it let me see the world with new perspective
Strict participation showed that luck had me protected
In me, it put compassion, self-control, and lots of skills
Schools all need this training as well as churches and peristyles
I am grateful for the good and transformation it has brought
Believe me when I say it can bring Haiti’s crime to naught
With Lakou’s help, I am a leader, a reference for my zone
My creed no longer speaks of conflict. Peace is in my bones.
It got me to build ties with those I did not know before
It bound our lives to others who make love instead of war
Thank you to each facilitator, director, trainer, and member
The training filled my heart with joy. Sadness, I don’t remember
Thank you LAKOU LAPÈ_________________________________________________