Ethnic & Multicultural
Alex Myril, Director – WOZO-Haiti Partners Choir
WOZO is a type of bamboo in Haiti known for resilience. WOZO thus signifies never giving up.
WOZO is a neighborhood choir made up of thirty-seven children and young adults who live in the area around Mariaman, where Haiti Partners co-director John Engle has lived most of the last sixteen years.
Merline Engle, John’s wife, played a key role in creating the choir and continues to serve as a volunteer choir coordinator. The choir director, Alex Myril, has done a phenomenal job in helping the youth to develop their talents and leadership skills in keeping with the choir’s mission.
The organization helps its members to develop specific characteristics and skills: their God-given potential, their knowledge, and their talents. The choir’s goal is to see the children become leaders in their community and serving as ambassadors for their country. Alex, Merline, and members of the choir write many of the songs they perform. The words come out of their experiences and convictions.
In September 2011, fourteen members of WOZO went to Holland, MI, to spend time with members of the Calvary Reform Church. (http://www.hollandsentinel.com/videos/x1587950177/WOZO-Haitian-Choir)
WOZO performs regularly in Haitian churches, schools, and a number of special events, including Fort Jacques on National Flag Day. Their videos on YouTube have been viewed thousands of times and aired on Haiti’s national television. In addition to learning to sing and dance well together as a group, members of the choir use Haiti Partners collaborative learning and leadership methods including Reflection Circles, Lectio Divina, and Open Space. Together they mak decisions about important issues such as budgets, community service activities, and any necessary disciplinary actions.
Haiti Partners has also supported a number of choir member families to rebuild their lives following the earthquake through a micro-credit program and school fees assistantships. Though members of the choir come from poor families they all are given the opportunity to attend school. Every September before school starts, members receive notebooks, pencils, pens, bookbags, and many other supplies.
WOZO members love working and playing together. We’ve been rehearsing together since 2006, singing, dancing, and working in the community by picking up trash in the neighborhood, and planting trees in the area where we live.
Haiti Partners’ mission is to help Haitians change Haiti through education. For more information about WOZO, visit www.haitipartners.org.
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WOZOCHOIR
Our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WozoYouthChoir