Our New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2011! We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years! Here at Hope for Haiti Foundation, we’re not wasting any time! The marketing team, Elade, Ti Piti and Lydia and Brian, who are finally official NC residents (RAISE UP!), met bright & early this morning to discuss our marketing and fundraising plan for this year. Not only did we enjoy having a mini September-Haiti-trip reunion (though bagels and Folgers just can’t compete with the bread and coffee we all bonded over in Haiti), but we’re excited about all the big changes that 2011 brings. After all, today was our first meeting with our new executive director and in our new office, where we’re still trying to get the interwebs up and working – which means that our friends in Haiti actually have better internet than we do (they’re so spoiled…;))

As we start off the year, we’re really excited about finding more ways to raise awareness, more ways to connect with y’all and more ways to help you look cool while helping Haiti 😉 (one word: awesome bumper stickers. we hope.). We did some SWOTing (file under “Threats”: my Haitian coffee supply is running dangerously low), brainstorming and dreaming, a little bit of tweeting and a lot of drawing on big white boards (we’re the marketing team – what else did you expect?).

While there are a lot of cool ideas up there on that white board, one of the most exciting things that we nailed down were our top 5 goals for what we’d like to accomplish on the ground in Haiti this year. Our New Year’s resolutions, if you will (and you will). And FYI: none of them involve losing weight. Have you TASTED Vierge’s pate?

We realize most of you probably haven’t, but we’re adding “how to fit Vierge in our suitcases” to our next meeting agenda – or you could just come with us on a trip!

Top 5 Things We’d Like to See Happen In Haiti This Year

1. Trade School
Number one on our agenda is to open a trade school in ZorangĂ©, to help teach people in the community practical skills that would allow them to seek gainful employment. The school will start out teaching tailoring and design and expand to other skills. Building this school would essentially complete our work in ZorangĂ© (other than the daily maintenance and operations of our projects there) and allow us to begin implementing similar models in other communities in Bainet. With the trade school, we would have a fully functioning primary and secondary school, a trade school, a full-time clinic and a church in the community…and the ability to follow @hopeforhaiti on Twitter from the computer lab. Why would you ever leave?

2. Clinic in Gandou
We would like to open a clinic, modeled after our ZorangĂ© clinic, in Gandou, another community in the Southeast department of Haiti, west of ZorangĂ©. This would allow us to bring access to medical care to people who can’t reach our clinic in ZorangĂ©.

3. Feed the Children
We’d like to start a school lunch program for the kids at our school in ZorangĂ©. Because we don’t currently offer lunch, we are only able to keep the kids in school for about four hours a day (many of them walk two hours each way to get to school, so that’s already an eight hour period of time where they might not have access to food). Not only would adding a lunch program provide the obvious benefits of making sure that kids in poor communities receive at least one solid, nutritious meal a day, but it would help us improve the quality of our education and increase our teachers’ employment status to full-time employees. It only costs about $1/day to feed a child, but with one of the biggest schools in the area with 500 kids in attendance, it’s a big project!

4. Keep the Lights On
Now that we have solar panels and electricity in Zorange, we can mean this literally! But really, we’re talking more generally about maintaining our day-to-day operations and making sure all of our staff in Haiti are paid consistently and on time. It only costs about $16,000/month to keep more than 60 people employed, but it is a big chunk of our resources, and something we want to make sure we are always able to sustain.

a re-branding effort from RadioShack that we’ll never understand

5. Best Buy [or something like it]
Whenever we decide to start a new project in Haiti, the first question we ask ourselves is “is it sustainable?”. We don’t want to introduce something to the community that we or they cannot maintain (one of the reasons we don’t have a lunch program yet – we’re not going to start it until we are sure we can continue it). Now that we have electronics in Zorange with the building of the computer lab and other electrical technology, we need a place nearby where they can get new equipment, parts or tech support. We’d like to open an electronics store in Bainet. Our version of “Best Buy: Haiti”…even if it resembles “The Shack” at first 😉

Of course, these aren’t the only things we’ll be working towards this year. We’re always looking for partners and ways to fund and grow our current educational, medical, spiritual and community initiatives (oh, and we still want to build that hospital), but we’re excited to have focus and some tangible goals, with numbers attached, to work towards. Stay tuned for ways you can help – and how you can score your own official Hope for Haiti swag 😉

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