Mosaics: Changing Haiti Piece by Piece

Girl working on the Jacmel mosaic
George Fishman, via Flickr

What art do you see in your city? Liz Waid and Adam Navis look at children bringing colour and beauty to their community in Haiti.

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A group of children are busy in Jacmel, Haiti. Children of all ages stand in front of a grey, stone wall. They stick small pieces of glass on the wall. Together, the small pieces make a picture of a large tree. The children also use the glass to make pictures of colourful birds and animals. Soon, the wall is not grey. Bright, beautiful colour now covers the wall. The children have created a mosaic. Today’s Spotlight is on the art of mosaic. We tell how some children have used mosaic to increase hope in Jacmel.

Voice 2 

A mosaic is a picture or design made of many small pieces. These pieces are called tiles. The first mosaics were designs on the floor. Artists in ancient Rome made these floors out of small stones. Many of the Ancient Roman mosaics have lasted for thousands of years. Now, most mosaic tiles are glass or stone. Tiles usually measure less than two centimetres across. They can be any shape but they are often a square.  The artist places the square tiles together. The artist uses hundreds - or even thousands - of tiles. But from far away, a mosaic looks like one smooth picture.

Voice 1 

Making a mosaic is a complex process. First, the artist draws a design on a surface, like a wall. Then, she uses glue to attach the tiles to the surface. She spreads glue on one side of the tile. Then she places it firmly on the surface. She must be careful to put it in the correct place. When the glue is dry, the tile is permanently attached.

Voice 2 

But the mosaic is not finished yet. The artist must fill the spaces between the tiles. Artists fill these areas with a mix of sand and cement called grout. When it is wet, the grout is like wet soil. But it becomes hard when it is dry. The artist rubs the grout over all the tiles. She makes sure that all the spaces are full. Then she cleans off the extra grout until the surface is flat. She wants to see the full shape of all the tiles. The grout dries. The mosaic is now finished.

Voice 1 

The children in Jacmel made their mosaic in this way. They called it the ‘Tree of Life’. They made it on a long wall near the ocean. But the wall is broken. There is a long line up and down the wall - a crack. The children did not fix this crack. Instead, it is a part of their mosaic. They put shells into it. They want people to put messages and prayers into these shells.

Voice 2 

The messages and prayers are for the people of Haiti. In January 2010, a large earthquake broke the wall. The earthquake caused terrible damage to the country of Haiti. Many people were killed. The earthquake was especially terrible for children. Many family members, even parents, died. Some children lost the chance to go to school. Many children were left with no home and no food.

Voice 1 

The earthquake destroyed many buildings in Haiti.  Broken cement, metal and glass covered Jacmel. The children used these broken materials in their art work. The children also used tiles. The tiles were a gift from people in Haiti and the United States.

Voice 2 

Mosaic art is a good symbol for Haiti. The tiles in a mosaic are very small. They may even be broken. But they are held together by strong grout. They are not easy to destroy. And together they can make a beautiful picture. The ‘Tree of life’ mosaic is a sign of hope. One of the girls who made the mosaic told the TV program Nick News:

Voice 3 

“The reason that I am working on the wall is because we believe that there will be a change in Haiti. And then when the change does happen, then we will see - it started by this wall. It makes me feel very happy to have people come here and look at it. It is something good that we are doing for Haiti.”

Voice 1 

The children who created the mosaic are part of an art program. The art program is called the “Art Creation Foundation for Children in Haiti” or ACFFC. This group provides meals and education for children. But it also provides hope for the future. It does this through teaching the children art skills.

Voice 2 

A person does not have to be an experienced artist to make a mosaic. This makes it a good art form for children and young people. ACFFC asked the American artist Laurel True to come to Haiti. Laurel True is a famous mosaic artist. She and the children in Jacmel worked together. While working together the children talked and dreamed together. They thought of other projects they could do. Laurel True believes that making art together can lead to other kinds of community projects. She explains on her website:

Voice 4 

“The project will concentrate on skill building and mosaic training for children and young adults. Then they may use these skills for starting future businesses. The tree of life mosaic will serve as a memorial for the lives lost in the earthquake last January. It will serve as a symbol of the hope for future rebuilding in Haiti."

Voice 1 

The mosaic makes Jacmel a more colourful and beautiful city. The children who created it learned new art skills. They made plans for the future of their city. They used their skills for their community. But they also received something more. One of the girls who made the mosaic talked to the TV program Nick News. She shared the new hope that she has:

Voice 5 

“The mosaic that we are doing represents many things. It represents that Haiti will still grow. Haiti will still be here. It will be rebuilt. Deep down inside I feel very good. I feel worth something. In the future I would like to be a big artist. That is my dream. Even if I cannot help somebody out by talking to them - they can see my message through my artwork.”

Voice 2 

The writer and producer of this program was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Mosaics: Changing Haiti Piece by Piece'.

Voice 1 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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What art do you see around your city?


Avatar Spotlight
Friend of ACFFC
said on April 25, 2012

Many thanks to Judy Hoffman and ACFFC. Together we are making a difference in the lives and future of the people of Haiti.
My sister always quotes Hugh Downs when she emails me : To say, my fate is not tied to your fate, is like saying your end of the boat is sinking.

We can all make a difference. Please support ACFFC today.

Avatar Spotlight
said on May 17, 2013

It’s meaning to make a work of art showing the hope and belief for the better future.

Hope ACFFC program help the children’s desire in Haiti become the true!

Avatar Spotlight
said on July 06, 2015

In Vietnam, we also get a long way with mosaic wall in Hanoi.It is not meaningful as in Haity but it show all about our country, our culture and history. That’s a good destination for tourist.
Fighting Haity. The world behind you!

Avatar Spotlight
said on August 05, 2015

In the life each of us tries much to live our lives well. We complete our work every day. We complete our responsibilities and duties every day. We make the life beautiful. We adorn the life. We love beautiful good things. We love beauty. We love beauty of nature, human and the life. We go to perfection. We live a beautiful good life. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We build for beautiful good things. We build for a beautiful good world. Beautiful good things exist.