Tag Archives: education

Day of the Girl – education & empowerment

October 11 2012 is an important day. It marks the first annual International Day of the Girl. Martha and I want to use this day as an opportunity to advocate for girls in Haiti and celebrate the successes that we are seeing in Haiti with our organization, World Concern.

It is becoming clear globally as well as in Haiti, that empowering girls and providing them with resources to succeed is vital in the long term development of communities and the country as a whole.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen recently said, “Countries that have expanded opportunities for women and girls in education and work in recent decades have largely achieved greater prosperity and moderated population growth while limiting child mortality and achieving social progress for all…There is an overwhelming need to pay attention to the needs of girls and women.”

As Mr. Sen indicates, increasing opportunities to education for girls is an important way we can work to improve the rights of women and girls. In Haiti specifically, this is a big need. According to the United Nations Human Development Report for 2011, only 22.5% of women in Haiti have at least a secondary education.

This is exactly why World Concern is working towards educating girls in Haiti and providing them with opportunities to succeed. World Concern is an organization that believes children are the hope for the future. As with other program areas, our work in education is focused on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. This makes me excited and is one reason (of many) that I am pleased to be a part of this organization!

Kethia showing off her big smile

In June I had the opportunity to meet Kethia.  This young girl had a calm demeanor but her smile radiated a lot of energy and joy.  She is a sixth grader and a part of World Concern’s Hope to Kids program in southern Haiti.  This program provides students in rural Haiti with a goat, which they take home and help raise.  For Kethia, the goat is much more than a pet; it is her future!

“When my goat had kids, I was able to sell the kids to pay for school,” Kethia explained.

Education is empowering Kethia and providing her with the knowledge she needs to have a bright future.

The Hope to Kids program is helping to educate many students like Kethia

If poverty is to be overcome, if communities are to be renewed, and if transformation is to occur, girls must be protected, equipped, and engaged. There is certainly no silver bullet in doing such things. However education is one area that can make a difference in the lives of girls.



This week, to celebrate the first annual International Day of the Girl, I want to ask you to remember in your prayers Kethia and other girls like her in Haiti.  These are precious young women that like young women everywhere, have dreams of a full and abundant life.  There remain many challenges for girls in Haiti, specifically in regards to opportunities for continued education, however I hope you are encouraged by the small successes we are seeing.

Who said learning couldn’t be fun?!







Martha and I see ourselves as advocates for Haiti.  We care about this place and its’ people deeply.  Our desire is to communicate stories of hope and transformation that give a just and accurate picture of life in Haiti.  There is so much more to this country than what you see on television.  Thank you for your partnership in telling Kethia’s story to people all over the world.  Martha and I are able and willing to serve but we realize nothing could happen without the support of people like you.  If you have not joined our support team and are interested in helping us serve the most vulnerable in Haiti, I would encourage you to consider becoming a monthly partner.  This is an investment that you will not regret!

World Humanitarian Day

Today, you may or may not know, is World Humanitarian Day.  This annual global celebration is meant to “recognize those who face danger and adversity to help others.”  Essentially, it is the ‘Labor Day’ of the humanitarian world, for our U.S. American friends.  It is a day of remembrance and action.

The World Humanitarian Day site says it like this:

We honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and we pay tribute to those who continue to help people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are.
Every day we see and hear images and stories of pain and suffering in our own neighborhoods and in countries far away. But we also find acts of kindness, great and small. World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people.

This day is an invitation for people from all religious, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds to not simply remember those that have labored for others, but to become someone who is laboring for others.

Especially as people of faith, it is important to be involved and engaged, both locally and globally.  This is how the world will know who we belong to right?

Jesus himself said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I do not want to sound too idealistic and persuade you that what happens on World Humanitarian Day will change your community and our world for good.  That is simply not true.  However, I do want to applaud the attempt at togetherness that is associated with a day like this and challenge you take action.  World Humanitarian Day is also an opportunity for advocacy and education.  You know Martha and I care deeply for Haiti; the first black republic in the world and the second country to achieve independence in all the Americas (aah see, education).  This is a nation that faces numerous challenges, but is also a nation that bursts with vibrancy and potential.

World Concern is an organization that is interested in tapping into this potential.  We, as an organization, seek to empower individuals and partner with local communities in Haiti to encourage transformation.  One way we do this is by providing microloans to small business owners and entrepreneurs like Rolande (pictured left).  We were able to meet Rolande and hear her story of how the microloan she received from World Concern has allowed her to expand her business and meet her family’s needs.



Martha and I are honored to participate in this work of transformation, and we invite you to join us.

We have seen how World Humanitarian Day is about remembering those that serve, becoming educated, and committing to doing something for others.  So in this spirit, I want to suggest ways that you can become involved in our work in Haiti on World Humanitarian Day:

  1. Get educated!  Watch a video and read an article below
  2. Post the link to our blog on your facebook or twitter page
  3. Partner with Martha and I in Haiti by making either a one-time or monthly gift to our ministry

“Solving the Tap-Tap Puzzle” – A FRONTLINE/Planet Money Special Report
A look at the colorful public buses that you find around Haiti

“Wasn’t Meant to Be” – Nu Look
Music from the well known compas band Nu Look

Powering Lights and Progress in Haiti – Haiti Rewired
An article about Haiti’s energy and electricity challenges

Seeing Beauty in Haiti – World Concern blog
A look at post-quake Haiti and World Concern’s work in building shelters


The Role of Women in Haiti

Martha and I have been privileged to meet several people in the Seattle area that have direct experience working in Haiti.  These new found friends have been a source of encouragement and have taught us much about what we can expect in Haiti.  One such friend invited us to join her this past week for a talk given by Anne-Christine d’Adesky, hosted by the World Affairs Council.  The talk was titled “What About the Women?  The role of women in post-quake Haiti” and focused on the difficulties facing women following the 2010 quake and highlighted some triumphs.  D’Adesky is a journalist, author, filmmaker, and gender rights advocate with extensive experience in Haiti so the stories and information she shared regarding women in Haiti was raw and telling.  Gender specific programs (both from aid groups and the public sector) in Haiti receive little funding in comparison to other sectors such as agriculture and health.  Additionally, women in Haiti are particularly vulnerable to domestic assault and sexual violence.  The fact that the country is still recovering from the massive earthquake over two years ago just exacerbates their plight.

Our experience and future work is within the context of community development and the non-government organization (NGO).  Therefore, I found myself asking the question “What does this information mean for NGOs, specifically for Martha and I in our future work, and how can we come alongside women in Haiti?”  D’Adesky provided some sound recommendations for what can be improved and two particularly stuck out to me:

1.  Bring women in Haiti to the table.  Include women in the decisions being made that effect their lives and families.  Allow them to participate not only in the rebuilding of their own lives and strengthening of their rights, but also in the rebuilding of their community and country.

2.  Give women’s programs and services the attention and financial support they deserve.

This talk gave us a deeper understanding of the situation for many women in Haiti today.  We hope to take this knowledge and turn it into action.  Martha and I don’t have a ton of influence or power, but the energy and skills we do have will certainly be used to empower and strengthen women in our sphere.  We are looking forward to sharing with you first hand about how World Concern is using its’ resources and leverage to support women in Haiti.  To see what World Concern is up to in Haiti please follow this link and then click on “Haiti” on the right hand side of the page.

Exploring the world of grant writing

As you know, Martha and I are currently making preparations to leave for Haiti and begin our work there.  Along with supporting raising, this time of preparation includes participating in some trainings that will help us do our jobs better once we arrive in country.  We want to be at the top of our game when we arrive in Haiti to provide the best support possible to the stellar staff World Concern already has there, so we are excited about the opportunity to hone our skills now.

Last week I (Austin) started an online grant writing course called “A to Z Grant Writing” through a local community college.  One of my responsibilities as Communications Liaison will be to assist the local staff in preparing grant proposals with the goal of building their capacity in this area.  World Concern is doing some great work in Haiti and in order for that to continue we need to consistently seek out funding.  I have some experience with public and private grants through an internship I did last year with another organization, so I hope this course will provide me with a deeper understanding of the grant writing process.  We are currently in lesson two and I have already learned a lot!  So I am confident that this course will prepare me well for my future role of supporting my Haitian colleagues in putting together top notch proposals.

I wanted to thank each of you for your support because without it, participating in trainings such as this grant writing course would not be possible.  Your investment in Martha and I now will truly make a difference in our ability to serve well in Haiti.  So thank you for being a part of the transformational work going on in Haiti!