Our social justice mission is to bring mind-body healing through the expressive arts to any community in need, with a focus on women and children. We generate change within communities from the inside-out and the ground up. WE BELIEVE HAPPINESS is a birthright and a human right and the expressive arts are the sparks that lights the wildfire of powerful, positive and peaceful change in individuals, communities and the world. We serve anyone who is oppressed due to mental, physical, economic, ethnic, cultural, gender, or religious reasons.
Healing Arts Peace Projects International (or HAPPI) is a collaboration among mental health providers, including expressive arts therapists, artists and educators, and individuals, institutions, organizations and communities who primarily serve women and children in humanitarian crises, refugee communities and others.
We engage the arts such as MUSIC, DRAMA, VISUAL ARTS, MOVEMENT and SPOKEN AND WRITTEN LANGAUGE as mediums to help people express their voices. Expression in itself is healing, but also education and witnessing as communication exchange is a powerful tool of transformation in for communities.
HAPPI evolved in 2014 after the founder and executive director, Ally Guida Smith, had been visiting and volunteering many years in Chiang Mai, Thailand with under-priviledged girls, many of whom were at risk for for trafficking or had been trafficked. She also had volunteered in Aceh, Sumatra with children using art therapy after the tsunami destroyed most of the island’s north, among other parts of S.E. Asia. Uniting her skills in mental health with her passion for social justice and healing through the arts, and with the support of her colleagues in the Bay Area, San Francisco, HAPPI was born. Beginning with a focus on Thailand, HAPPI grew to serve Haiti, refugees in Greece, India, Vietnam Tijuana, Mexico and Northern California.
“HAPPI came into being after many years of living and traveling abroad while expanding my inner and outer lives as an arts therapist, yogi and wanderer with a mission. There are many beautiful people in the world, particularly girls and women, who do not easily find a way to express their voices or find freedom, or the ways are made hard or impossible by the political, economic and cultural aspects of their lives. Whatever the language, art is a universal language that we not only understand with our brains but with our inner hearts and minds. It is a bridge between souls and can transform and empower individuals and communities”- Ally