Vision Statement: 
The history and philosophy of the C-CLAK and the GG School are grounded in our commitment to contribute to the socio-economic, cultural, and spiritual development of Haiti in a tangible way, beyond the pure academic discourse. It is the crystallization of our 36 years dream to create an institution outside of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, as we believe that decentralization is one of the key components of sustainable development. It is further the realization that a country like Haiti can best benefit from applied research (in my case applied ethnomusicology) grounded in a re-evaluation and validation of the culture of the people whose life we, as scholars, study. As such, the preservation of the cultural patrimony is linked with the support, promotion, of the artist as keeper of the cultural tradition. Therefore, emphasis is put on the construction of a venue capable of facilitating the practice of dance, music, drama, and the plastic arts as they become a means of support for the people who produce them. In this sense, the arts as cultural expression become a major component of socio-economic and sustainable development.

The philosophical foundation that supports the Léocardie & Alexandre Kenscoff Cultural Center, the Gawou Ginou School and Holistic Center, is our concept of HUMANOCENTRISM, an all inclusive view, that puts the person at the center of the discourse. Grounded in the scholar activist tradition of Garvey, Dubois, Fanon, Rigoberta Menchu, Freire and others it summarizes the promise of applied ethnomusicology and research that endeavors to advocate on behalf of the people whose life and culture we study. 


Convinced of the impact of education and culture (the arts, music and dance in particular) on sustainable development, they have decided to build an institution that will serve as a venue for community activities that favor social inclusion.

Haiti is an enigma among the nations of the world. The first independent Black nation since 1804, the second republic in the Americas, a vibrant culture stemming from the crossroads of Africa, Europe, and Native America, yet it is as well a severely challenged community. This is why the role of the arts in promoting socio-cultural inclusion seems paramount in this regard.

Located in Mirebalais, a small and pivotal town in the Central Plateau of Haiti, the C-CLAK and the GG School hope to stand as a model of sustainable development, as evidence in its efforts to focus on culture and education. 

The constructions of the complex began in May 1997, and were finally completed some 20 years later in the summer of 2017. The independent course chosen by the founders accounts for the long delay, as they shouldered some 80% of the cost that were supplemented by contributions from progressive friends and family members, for after a futile search for funds, they became aware of the relationship between self-reliance and sustainability. Thus, the project is grounded in the works and philosophy of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire, as well as applied ethnomusicology as a concept that promotes public service and advocacy. Finally, that philosophical foundation is sustained by the concept of “Humanocentrism”, a term that the co-founder coined in 1989 (“The Chronicle of Higher Education”, July 13, 1993) to conciliate the positive dimensions of Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism, by putting the person at the center of the discourse.

Our Founders

Papi Toto (Dr. Gerdes Fleurant) with a student and parent from L'Ecole Gawou Ginou.

Dr. Gerdès Fleurant (Papi Toto)
Dr. Gerdès Fleurant is an applied ethnomusicologist and sociologist, a trained organist, and an educator.  He earned a License from the the University of Haiti and a Bachelors in Music from New England Conservatory of Music.  He completed an MA in sociology at Northeastern, a MMUS at Tufts University, a PhD from Tufts University in Caribbean Culture and Music.  At the collegiate level, he has taught at Brown University, Brandeis University, and Assumption College.  He received tenure at Salem State Unversity in Sociology and African American Studies, and at Wellesley College in Music. Dr. Fleurant taught ethnomusicology at Wellesley College from 1985 to 2005, and there founded the Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble with Kera Washington, which continues to study and perform music of the African Diaspora under his advisement.  He has also taught music in Brockton, MA, and has worked as an organist and choirmaster at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-Au-Prince and at churches around Boston. Gerdès Fleurant is the author of the book Dancing Spirits: Rhythms and Rituals in Haitian Vodun, the Rada Rite.  In 2005, Dr. Fleurant retired from Wellesley College and returned to Haiti, to bring together his experiences in applied ethnomusicology in the construction of the Gawou Ginou Foundation and its programs, which stand as an example of the applied ethnomusicology approach. 

Mme. Florienne Santil with Gawou Ginou students dressed up for Kanaval.

               Mme. Florienne Santil
Florienne Santil is a retired educator with over 30 years of experience in Somerville, MA and Broward County, FL.  She has taught elementary bilingual education (English/Haitian Kreyòl), elementary general education, and ESOL.  Mme. Santil grew up in Mirebalais, where she has returned to found the Gawou Ginou School.  She currently serves as an advisor, teacher mentor, and academic coach for the school.  She has published several books for children in Haitian Kreyòl, including childrens' biographies of Marcus Garvey and Mme. Emerante des Pradines.  Mme. Santil is the proud mother of two daughters and three grandchildren.
Yanvalou Drum and Dance Ensemble
Gerdès Fleurant, Founding Director
Kera Washington, Artistic Director

Yanvalou Drum & Dance Ensemble is a faculty-directed student ensemble at Wellesley College that performs the folkloric music and dance of Africa as it exists today throughout the African Diaspora, particularly in Haiti.  Yanvalou was founded in 1989 by Professor Gerdès Fleurant, in partnership with then-student Kera Washington.  Kera Washington, now an ethnomusicologist and music educator in Boston Public Schools, continues to direct the ensemble, under the guidance of Dr. Fleurant.  Yanvalou maintains a strong connection to the Gawou Ginou Foundation through annual fundraising and cultural exchange trips.