The Magic In You


Like Jacques in The Magic Heart (below), these boys in Haiti have made puppets that can help them encourage their siblings to talk, with the help of trained facilitators, and express their own feelings

Like Jacques in The Magic Heart (below), these boys in Haiti have made puppets that can help them express their feelings with the help of a trained counsellor


Scene from The Magic Heart

Scene from The Magic Heart

When we asked our partners at CRS what concerned them the most about children in Haiti, many of their staff felt anxious that young people were growing up without a sense of hope. For them, this seemed the greatest tragedy of all, a result of decades of poverty compounded by the effects of the massive earthquake of 2010.

Working with CRS (Catholic Relief Service) and their considerable network of local partners, No Strings created three films addressing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and waste disposal, child protection, and trauma healing, to point children’s thoughts to specific issues crucial to their health, safety and wellbeing.

The common factor in each film is hope, and how, though even a child and whatever your circumstances, you can take small steps that will give you some control over your life. By working together, and supporting each other, you can make positive changes happen, and there are adults who can be trusted and who can help.

For the first time we also created a song, encapsulating the positive message of the films. Translated into French and Creole, like the films, it’s been a huge success. You can change things, you can make things better, because the magic is in you …




Sierra Leone. Bringing Mr Poo Poo to lifeSierra Leone: We redubbed The Amazing Machine and took it to Freetown, a city with many physical similarities to Port-au-Prince. Here’s a look at our 2015 workshop in pictures



Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 14.22.29

Funding Support: The philanthropic organisation Equitas, which focuses on Haiti’s restavèk children, widens the reach of our child protection film The Wishing Ring. Read more



Haiti School watching landscape

Amazing: A lovely clip of Haitian children in Port-au-Prince watching The Amazing Machine for the first time, and playing with special puppets they’ve made to explain disease transmission. Watch



Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 18.49.04Magic: How No Strings artistic director Kathy Mullen conceptualised the main themes in all three Haiti films, after a discussion about a special ring. Read interview





People describe Port-au-Prince in the first few hours after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake of January 12th as like the aftermath of a nuclear bomb blast. The city, so close to the epicentre, turned to rubble, its ramshackle buildings collapsed upon a population who hadn’t experienced a tremor like it in more than 200 years.

The final death toll will never accurately be known, but a figure of 230,000 is used most often, with up to 1.5 million people made homeless.

For a long time, CRS has been one of the largest international NGOs in Haiti, with an expansive network of local partners working on a number of major programmes. The CRS team wanted the No Strings films to awaken a sense of empowerment in children while focusing on key issues affecting them.

As is well known, the aftermath of the earthquake brought an outbreak of cholera to Haiti, killing thousands. Crowded living conditions around the city generally mean that public hygiene continues to be a crucial issue. The first film, then, would cover WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) messages; using soap before eating and after using the latrine; purifying water before drinking; safe disposal of faeces.

But partners additionally saw a need for children to feel a sense of control over their environment. The film would also dramatise a magical story around rubbish disposal, a dire problem in urban areas, and reveal small steps young people can take to create spaces to live in that are pleasant.

This was to become The Amazing Machine.

The second film would be more complex, speaking to children whose worlds had been rocked by traumatic experiences brought about by the earthquake, the uncertain and insecure living conditions of the camps that followed it, or life’s hardships in general: The Magic Heart.

The Wishing Ring tells the story of a young girl who is kept in servitude, exploited by her ‘aunt’, kept from school, made to work all hours, and who is abused by the aunt’s son. Restavèk practices (from the French rester avec) are not uncommon in Haiti, where generations of poverty have forced parents into impossible decisions. The film aims to empower young people with greater awareness around this and other child-protection and child-rights issues.

And so in all three films, the underlying message is one of hope, of working together to help each other, because if you have hope and you find strength in each other, there really are things you can do to make your life better.