Haitians Helping Haitians
The number of Haitians living in the U.S. is well over one million. The number of Haitian diaspora in the world has reached 3.5 million and many of them are looking to give back to Haiti in meaningful ways. Haitians in the diaspora have much to offer the country of their origins. Basic skills that they take for granted are much needed.
After the 2010 earthquake, many Haitian American young people felt the call to serve in Haiti in a time of desperation and need. Some took jobs with non-profit organizations in Haiti, others donated money. Often people ask: What can I offer as a volunteer at MCLC?
Volunteering in Haiti is a way to have real impact. At MCLC we have a steady stream of Haitian Americans who come as volunteers for one to four weeks and others that stay for one to two years. All have made a tangible difference in the community.
Our volunteers have shared a wide variety of skills. They have taught STEAM projects such as science experiments to understand earthquakes, organic gardening techniques, how to use Word or Excel, woodworking, photography, painting, jewelry making, crocheting, poetry writing, and math games. Others have tutored students, read their books with them, given teacher trainings or helped run summer camps. Others have taught business skills such as basic accounting, how to determine if you will make a profit or how to turn a business idea into a business plan. Still others have come to expose teachers and children to new educational games.
In a community like Matènwa, needs are large and often basic. The education and skills that Haitian Americans have acquired from their daily lives of living, working and going to school in the U.S. are useful and uncommon in Haiti. The exposure to technology, infrastructure, and education, things we take for granted if we live in the U.S., creates skill sets, resources, and talents that can be put to powerful use
in a resource-poor setting like Matènwa. In Matènwa, education, technology, and skills of so many kinds are in extremely short supply due to gaps in education and economics.
Our Haitian American volunteers are a bridge between Haitians on Lagonav and the outside world. Many, but not all, speak creole. Many have an understanding of Haitian culture. Once back home, they share their experiences to raise awareness about Haiti and broaden people's understanding of Haitian practices. Some have blogged about their experiences in Matènwa to reach a wider audience.
Through volunteering, young Haitian Americans reconnect with a place that they know at some level, but may have never experienced directly in this way before.