This month, we continue our four-part educational series focused on the importance
of human development and social support in Haiti.
This series was inspired by the overwhelming response to our opinion piece in the Philanthropy Journal encouraging all of our colleagues in the NGO world to be “part of the solution that equips and empowers Haitians for independence, autonomy and self-sufficiency” or "Stay Out of Haiti!"
Session 3: The Importance of Human Development
To end generational dependence and poverty in Haiti, Human Development must be the top priority. There is a better way!
In Haiti, like many developing regions, there are broad gaps in the availability of services to meet the basic needs of families and communities. This is the primary reason generational dependency and poverty continue to be the norm. Hundreds of NGOs and private institutions are attempting to fill these gaps for education, healthcare, and more. No doubt this comes with some benefit, but unfortunately, many of the approaches taken by organizations in their efforts to maintain and grow donor relationships unintentionally deprive Haitian families of their dignity and right to experience self-sufficiency. Their approaches fail to create and foster sustainable development and hinder Haitians from taking ownership of their own futures and autonomy.
So, this begs the question: How is Overture’s approach different?
Sustainable development in Haiti must make human development the priority. This means investing in the people of Haiti - the children, the youth and the adults. These are the only people who can truly end generational poverty and dependence in their family, their community and their country. They are why Overture’s Social Support Model is designed to help them build a foundation for independence, no matter what stage of life they are in.
Here’s a brief view into the impact our donors are making in their lives:
Children - A Hope and a Future
Overture’s work in Haiti really took root with the reunifying of 250 children from the ESPWA orphanage back into their families. This was a huge first step in helping these children begin their journey to independence. We’re thrilled to share that every one of these children are still living with their families and still connected with Overture team members working with them to navigate the challenges and adversity that come with life as a Haitian.
The reunified children and many of their siblings are benefiting from education scholarships made possible by our generous Overture donors. As you have likely heard us say, Education Means Life in Haiti. We say this because access to education is not a given in Haiti, and we know that when these children are educated, they have an exponentially greater chance of living an independent, self-sufficient life. This small investment today, means a life that has hope, promise and potential.
The children that Overture serves also benefit from protection training that helps their parents learn skills to ensure their children are well cared for, safe and have the highest potential to thrive. These trainings strengthen parents and their families by equipping them with information, tools and resources they did not receive from their previous generations. They have the opportunity to be the first generation to model truly healthy, effective parenting skills that equip their children to be the generation that moves the country that much closer to independence and self-sufficiency.
Youth - New Choices, New Opportunities
The youth and young adults in Haiti are faced with choices that many of us can’t imagine. Many lack an education that would provide them with choices, so they are often driven to get involved with gangs that participate in illegal, and often deadly, activity.
Overture’s Young Adult Empowerment Program (YAEP) focuses on four main components: Life Skills, Professional Development, Social Development and Interpersonal Development. This program helps young adults: better understand themselves; identify viable, marketable skills; and improve their ability to manage life’s challenges and make ethical decisions. This program ultimately gives young adults the opportunity for a life focused on productivity and potential rather than one focused on gangs and violence. That’s how they will be part of the journey to independence and self-sufficiency for themselves, their families and their communities.
Adults - The Future is Now
The adults in the communities we serve have long dreamt of a better life for them, their children and their communities. Until now, they only had a dream. But through the support of Overture’s donors and programs, these adults can now glimpse a future where they can provide for their families and contribute to a more independent and self-sufficient Haiti.
Our programs focus on providing access to personal and professional development training that includes workshops and on-the-job training.
All five Overture Social Support Model Pillars (Education, Nutrition, Healthcare, Empowerment, Housing) provide opportunities for adults to develop marketable skills in their own community. This includes everything from masonry to medical training and from farming to food packaging.
Unlike many NGOs, Overture does not import labor, instead, we exclusively train and employ local community members to build homes and schools, staff our mobile medical clinics and teach school. This means community members are serving each other and working together to build a stronger, more independent Haiti.
BY HAITIANS, FOR HAITIANS
People are truly our most valuable assets! Let's look to Pierre Richard Peronneau, Overture’s social support program manager as an example:
Peronneau was born and raised in Jacmal, Haiti and lost his father at thirteen years old. He was blessed to be able to attend school as a child and earned a spot to study Social Work at the State University of Haiti. Peronneau has served Overture families for the past six years and recently shared his passion for social work in our most recent newsletter.
He has now been accepted into the Masters program to continue his studies in social work so he can bring what he learns back to better serve his fellow Haitians.
Overture is honored to invest in Peronneau’s advanced education because it is an investment in providing even more effective and impactful programs to the communities we serve.
A Note from Peronneau:
The idea of completing a master's degree program represents the opportunity to strengthen my knowledge and to be better able to impact lives through social or community interventions. This is the approach of Overture Outreach International. It defends the idea that investing in its leaders, allowing them, for example, to strengthen their skills and knowledge, will inevitably facilitate the organization to work more effectively with the targeted communities.
It so happens that the master's degree that I have been accepted to is "Sustainable Food and Territorial Resilience" at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne in France. This degree fits perfectly not only with Overture’s priorities for communities but also and above all, with the problems families are facing every day - serious difficulties in obtaining food security and accessing quality food.
Overture Outreach International is in the process of implementing a new nutrition program (food packaging) that will achieve food security, strengthening local consumption, and most importantly, strengthening local production. Thus, when I return to Haiti in one year, with my training in the field of sustainable food and resilience, I will contribute to the development and implementation of Overture’s programs to improve access to sustainable food and territorial resilience.
We believe and trust in the amazing people of Haiti, that’s why our focus is on equipping them to control their own destiny. This is the better way!