The Haitian Initiative’s Presence within the Community of Cite Soleil
One of the core elements of Haitian culture is community. The people in Haiti live close together, work together, cook together, and generally do everything with someone else. Doing something together makes it better. I’ve known many a foreign-run organization in Haiti to act in their own self-interests with an “us-versus-them” mentality, which tends to do more harm than good. During the first week of my stay with the Haitian Initiative through the Sanneh Foundation, I can say that one of the most impressive of their qualities is that they have ushered around them many Haitian staff to do the work that needs doing; they do it together. With only one American staff living full-time in Haiti, HI has more of a natural feel and fit within the community than many of the organizations I have seen.
Furthermore, the people that HI have chosen to hire and surround themselves with are principled and proficient within their roles. Not one seems to have a poor attitude. Like any organization, there are struggles with personnel, pay, schedules, etc., but no organization that wishes to thrive should be without some adversity. What shines among HI’s staff is that they are proactive in their approach to everyday situations. This is the kind of attitude and response that one would hope for in a town like Cite Soliel, among one of the most difficult places to live.
In a culture that struggles to nurture its children, and where so few girls have an opportunity and future for something like a soccer career, the need for children’s activities and programs is great. I can’t imagine a better way to advance culture than by investing in children, and that has been and remains the priority of HI. This value trickles down from the leadership to the coaches. By providing children –and especially girls—with a platform to play soccer, learn English, computer skills, and more, HI is providing a special way to invest in the future of Haiti.