Young Haitian women drumming

Music Heals International

Music Heals International at Work in Haiti


We’re happy to pass along this report from Sara Wasserman, founder and director of recent Rex grantee Music Heals International, which has been partnering with J/P Haitian Relief Organization and U.S.-based Little Kids Rock (also a Rex grantee) to bring music education, opportunities, and support for young people in Haiti.

Less than 700 miles from Miami, the challenges of life in a place like Haiti are worlds apart from those of average Americans. Haitians are deeply familiar with the insecurity caused by natural disasters, poverty and political instability. Reminders of the devastating 2010 earthquake still scar Port-au-Prince, and the World Bank reports that nearly 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, earning $2.41 or less a day.

Together with our partners, MHI’s music education program provides a safe and reliable space for creativity and growth. Amidst political and social upheaval, we help children build hope, resilience and the skills to navigate a challenging world.

Young Haitian men playing bass“In a country where opportunity is scarce, we give children the chance to engage, achieve and thrive through music education. MHI brings together the local operations and expertise of J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) and U.S.-based Little Kids Rock’s nationally-recognized curriculum and methodology to offer a free, innovative and culturally-relevant approach delivered by school and community partners. Together, we provide opportunities to explore creative collaboration, self-expression and mastery. Students become engaged learners and leaders while experiencing personal growth and achievement through music programs that build community.

Using a flexible program model adapted to partner goals and needs, we deliver:

  • Instruments
  • Curriculum and teacher training
  • Support for community concerts
  • Coaching from renowned musicians
  • Summer music camp and peer mentorship
  • Inclusive classes for children with disabilities
  • Songwriting and professional recording projects

Students receive roughly 200 hours of music training per year and learn to play instruments ranging from guitar, keyboards, drums, bass and ukulele to voice.

Haitian young people singing in studio

Adds LKR’s David Wish:
I remember when Sara came to me with the vision of bringing Little Kids Rocks’ Modern Band curriculum to Haiti. In a country where music is a vibrant part of culture and life, Sara was looking for an approach that teaches kids how to play, compose and improvise using the musical genres they know and love. She also wanted to learn from Little Kids Rock’s proven method of bringing student-centered music programs into under-resourced schools. What better way for an organization recognized as a U.S. leader in music education to promote equity than to help MHI enrich the education and lives of children in Haiti. Five years later, I am proud of Little Kids Rock’s role supporting MHI and J/P HRO to build a culturally-relevant music education model that’s poised for growth. What lies ahead is consolidation of that model for easy replication, and mindful growth that tests new types of collaboration with nonprofit, public and private partners. Thanks to the generosity and commitment of friends and partners like you, I believe MHI’s vision of helping kids engage, achieve and thrive through music education is not only scalable across Haiti, but elsewhere in the world. I can’t wait!