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Mannequins for a Vocational School in Rural Haiti
December 11, 2014

Sewing students at a vocational school in rural Haiti now have mannequins to speed their learning of clothing design and creation.  The nine mannequins—made by teachers and students and patterned after nine of the students—were a project of UPLIFT Haiti volunteers who visited the Fr. John Maxwell Vocational School in Baradères in October.

Mannequins allow students to develop a design sense that pattern-making probably won't. This gives them a better chance of becoming independent designers/dressmakers rather than being limited to factory work, where pattern-making is more common, according to fashion designer Maria Jose Leon-Martone, one of the UPLIFT Haiti volunteers.

“The mannequins will allow the students to learn a different technique of garment making called draping,” said Maria. “Through draping, the students can utilize free-form design directly on the mannequin, which helps them to explore their design creativity.”

The mannequins were made using duct tape, dried banana leaves, wood glue, a form-fitting chemise and plastic wrap. The mannequins then were mounted on wooden stands designed by the volunteers and fabricated onsite by local craftsmen who had been putting finishing touches on construction of the Maxwell School building.

Photos of the mannequin project can be viewed at UPLIFT Haiti’s Facebook page at facebook.com/UpliftHaiti.  You can support future UPLIFT Haiti projects through a tax-deductible online donation at uplifthaiti.org/donate.htm.

Our volunteers carry out training programs, medical clinics, and other projects proposed by--and in partnership with—rural communities in Haiti.

In addition to the mannequin project, UPLIFT Haiti volunteers taught crochet and clothing design skills to vocational students and collaborated with the craftsmen to install window screens at the school. The screens are reducing the students’ and staff’s exposure to disease-carrying mosquitoes. Haiti now faces a new mosquito-borne threat, the chikungunya virus, along with existing threats such as malaria and lymphatic filariasis.

The Fr. John Maxwell Vocational School was founded and is administered by Sister Denise Desil, a member of a Haitian community of Roman Catholic sisters, the Little Sisters of Ste. Therèse. Sr. Denise has worked in Baradères for more than 25 years. The Little Sisters also operate a large elementary school in Baradères and staff the town’s health clinic.

The Maxwell School has expanded to more than 100 students since 2010.  The school building’s construction was funded by donations from people around the world.  UPLIFT Haiti’s primary roles at the school have been to supply teaching materials and to provide training.

Classes in the brand-new school building began this fall, but mosquitoes freely entered the school’s louvered windows, crucial for admitting air and light.  The UPLIFT Haiti volunteers designed screens that would keep out the pests while allowing the louvers to be opened for maximum air circulation.  UPLIFT Haiti also provided the school with enough mosquito repellent to protect students and staff for several months.

UPLIFT Haiti is a registered public charity. The “UPLIFT” in our name stands for our mission: "Uniting People to Learn, Inspire, and Form Together." Please visit uplifthaiti.org for more information.


Making a mannequin form
The student wears a simple thin chemise and carefully draped plastic foil. Then UPLIFT Haiti volunteer Maria Jose Leon-Martone begins duct-taping, following steps that allow creating a true outline of the body's form.



When taping is complete, Maria and Maxwell School sewing teacher Mr. Josué mark key measurements and lines on the mannequin outline.



Four students "wearing" their mannequin forms before the forms were carefully snipped off, re-taped, stuffed with banana leaves and mounted on stands.


Unite People to Learn, Inspire and Form Together."

© UPLIFT Haiti