Tuesday, May 31, 2011

That was until today...

Add caption

The developing world never ceases to amaze me. Every day is an adventure. Port-au-Prince is brimming with spontaneous activity.  On every street corner seats at least 10 street merchants selling goods ranging from all sorts, shapes and sizes.  But regardless of all this hustle and bustle I have unfortunately noted little productivity. The streets are still framed plastic bottles; tents make up the majority of public spaces.

That was until today.

I had the opportunity to visit 30 innovative women at two different incubators in the city of Port-au-Prince. One was in Martissant, an area which has been heavily ravaged by the January 12 earthquake and the other Cite Soleil, one of the biggest and most dangerous slums within the Port-au-Prince region.  

HPCD, a nonprofit organization which specializes in job creation and sustainability among small business entrepreneurs has partnered with the Minustah on a project entitled ‘Reduction Violance Communautaire’.  This project focuses on entrepreneurial women which have been victims of violence in their respective communities. HPCD has provided a safe venue, an incubator, for these women to produce their products and services, and have afforded them financial support throughout their tenure . Through this project they have been equipped with basic leadership, business management, marketing, and accounting skills which they acquired through a six month course to establish a solid base for future economic, environmental, and social success.

Each of these women has a riveting story.  Many have lost everything in the earthquake which recently devastated the nation and given their status of 2nd class citizens have endured recurring persecution amongst their spouses, peers, and community.   These women are naturally skilled in the products they have chosen to manufacture and are tasked with the objectivity to appoint employees which serves as a support for them while ensuring further job creation. Throughout this program these women have become leaders in their community and have literally risen from the rubble.  But while I noted great progress and productivity among a number of the women I met today regrettably many of their businesses will not flourish outside of the incubator.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

La Vie...

5 short years ago I sat here. 
I contemplated, dreamed, and imagined what my next steps would look like. My realities had been sculpted from my experiences, and my future constructed by what others had recounted, they had foretold, from literature, media etc.
Now I’m back. 
I observe this environment through seasoned eyes.
Is the environment still ripe with opportunity as I had once foreseen or am I now clouded by doubt?  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We know why you fly...

After my severely delayed flight, my eagerness to be here doubled. As the captain made his final announcement confirming our imminent arrival, it seemed the misty daze which had narrated my entire day before then began to dissipate. The view from my window seat was beautiful. The vast blue ocean which paralleled the stark mountainous terrain told such an honest narrative.

 I was a bit overdressed for the 90 degree weather which greeted me at Port-au-Prince, my PSU sweats left me drenched in perspiration.  But in all honestly after battling through the bitter cold winter of NYC a little honest sweat did me oh so good. :)

After the prolonged immigration process, I charged for my luggage.   Ironically I found my luggage with relative ease, (I am not quite sure if this is common for international airports given my limited experience but in Haiti there are these multitudes of uniformed men employed to simply assist you with your luggage, a sure tip highly recommended of course) their devout eagerness to assist me with my belongings was slightly stifling.  As I looked around me I couldn’t help but burst into laughter.  My incessant “non merci’s ” ( no thank you’s) weren’t registering. There were at least 5 uniformed men at all times literally grabbing my suitcases from my hands demanding to be of service, this was outrageous. I was slightly confused given that these men were supposedly at my disposal. 

My eager helpers
But one look into their eyes I discovered their ardent readiness to help me lug over 150 pounds of shenanigans wasn’t to simply annoy me, or assist me, or drive me insane etc. As I began to center my attention on their needs, I realized  it was my obligation to provide them with a glimpse of hope.  I had experienced foreign lands, lands  which were synonymous to prosperity, affluence,  a better life, and now they wanted proof. fair enough right?