Haiti is a truly beautiful, magical place, and every person we have had the pleasure of meeting so far has touched my heart and further ignited my passion for our mission with their determination not only to make their lives better, but to improve the lives of those around them. Each person so embodies LitWorld's mission of civic engagement and a passion for making the world a better place through sharing their stories. We are lucky to be here, and I am so grateful we have been connected to this beautiful country to do great work with all of the incredible people here!
We have spent the last two days training the incredible young women at the TOYA Foundation who have been hosting us during our visit. The Executive Director, Nadine Louis, is an inspiring, passionate, FIERCE woman, professional, mother, mentor, friend, supporter, and pioneer of the feminist movement in Haiti. The TOYA Foundation trains businesses and organizations throughout Haiti on women's issues and best practices to promote the development of an equitable and stable society.
In addition to this important work, they also mentor 20 young women who are trying to accomplish their goals and dreams and make Haiti a better place. We are so excited to partner with them to launch a LitWorld Innovation Hub. You would all fall in love with Nadine, and each and every girl in her program!
The training began with a resounding rendition of the Hello song in both English and Creole/French, followed by "Hey There Ladies," and "Tuwe Tuwe." Each song we sing turns into a beautiful chorus of harmony and voices coming together in different languages, dancing and holding hands. We have even had a congo line to Seeahumba/We are marching, and the men joined together to sing the bass! The singing definitely broke the ice, and since that moment we have seen an outpouring of sharing, laughing, and growing together.
Trusted LitClub activities such as the heart map have taken on new meaning here in Haiti. Hearing one young woman named Daphnee share that she grew up without parents, and her young daughter Elizabeth taught her to find the heart she never knew she had, or hearing another young woman talk about the tree of Haiti that would bare fruit of love, safety, and equality, has opened our eyes to the spirit and heart of these young women who will change the world here.
We have read aloud together Chrysanthemum and the Empty Pot (which were loved by all!) and written a group story about a young woman cooking with her grandmother. And in the end of our two days together we passed our LitClub Facilitator Certificates to the young women, who will lead our movement here in Haiti!
In the meanwhile, we have also had the opportunity to visit one of the young women's homes in downtown Haiti - hardest hit by the earthquake - and meet her beautiful mother who worked so hard to get her children an education. We heard our Board Members Sue and Nicole share stories of their work and experience as professional women in an industry dominated by men. Nicole shared the words of wisdom "Whenever I go into a situation, I stay true to myself," and, "You must know your own value."
All the while, we have seen beautiful scenes juxtaposed against hardship: a slum built into the beautiful side of a mountain, magical children playing together when they should be in school. There is so much to be done, but we with the help of Nadine, Duquesne, Peterson (OUR INCREDIBLE TRANSLATOR!) and the 13 young women we worked with, we are laying the foundation for the future of the children of Haiti, who will seize these opportunities and change their worlds!