"You know nothing, Jon Snow". That's one of my favorite lines in Game of Thrones. I feel that applies to me based on my experiences with the inaugural PACT (Progress & Accelerated Change through Technology) program presented by Foundation of the World in partnership with Transversal.
My volunteered group and I spent 9 days in Haiti. Every day I felt that I had an awakening. I am Haitian American. My parents emigrated from their original home in the late 70s and early 80s respectively and started a new life in Miami. In their new life together, they had me (2nd child) along with my 2 brothers and 2 sisters. I'm considered a Diaspora; and although The United States is my home, Haiti is my heritage. I discovered and learned parts of myself in Haiti that I didn't know in spite of the great work that my parents have done. Some of which shocked and awed me. I encountered cultural complexities that taught me not all things are black and white. I experienced the need to really work on my Kreyol and French, haha, I was getting butchered by my people.
At the beginning of the week, we had an opening ceremony with the students, school officials, our volunteers, leaders in Haiti's tech industry and officials in Haiti's government. Over the next four days, we rotated our group of 120 participants that included students from Canado Technique, Limonade University and network professionals through four technical tracks: virtualization, security, voice over IP and professional development. Our gift of knowledge improves their prospects for a promising tomorrow. We laughed, we cried, and we learned from each other.
My team was amazing, and it was favor that this particular group, was the first PACT volunteer team. They'll always have a special place in my heart.
The participants we worked with are passionate and smart. They're not looking for a handout; instead, they just want an opportunity to improve their circumstances, help further their country and fulfill their dreams. We found out that we have more in common than we let on. Haiti has many facets of problems: it has been ravaged by natural disasters; its infrastructure needs much work, and its middle class is nearly non-existent. Consequently, those things take away from its potential for economic growth, and yet it's richer than most know. Haiti is rich in natural beauty, resourcefulness, ingenuity and passion. I strongly believe that Haiti’s best days are yet to come, and I will do my part to make it happen.
This experience would not have been possible without several people and it behooves me to name just a few:
- Ferdinand, Marguarette, Farrel, Dinah, Jasmine & Marc Liger
- Ronny Laurent
- Max Larson
- Jacques Pape
- Juan Del Villar
- Marisol Ibarra
- Steve Simeus
- Derrick Clarke
- Florent Dalencourt
- Lori Paschall
- Latisha Scarborough
- German Hernandez
- Haiti Data Network
- Atalou Microsystems
- Access Haiti
- And the countless donors
We hope to go back to Haiti next year to continue our investment in Haiti's future. This is my promise to Haiti. I hope that others join us, especially my fellow Haitians abroad. We're a part of Haiti's hope.
The PACT program was created for one purpose, teach minds of the future so they can create a promising tomorrow. The best analogy I can use is "if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day; however, If you teach a man how to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime".
Haiti's lifetime will be much longer than mine, much longer than the people who abuse it, much longer than the sons and daughters who love it. In Haiti's lifetime, whenever she's endured trials and tribulations she's tapped into one important quality, hope. Hope endures. Hope gives you strength. Hope makes you believe in a better tomorrow. I love Haiti. I see it's brighter future. I have hope.