Hope for haiti program director jennifer lang with students 

Scholarships Help Build Capacity for Young Leaders

Jennifer Lang, Program Director – August 27, 2013

I was so pleased to represent Hope for Haiti at the returnees meeting for scholarship recipients from the USAID grant program, the Scholarships for Education and Economic Development Program (called SEED or SEMENCE, for short.) 24 Haitian students have successfully studied for two years at community colleges throughout the United States, from New York to Oregon, majoring in various fields including quality control, supply chain management, and environmental technology.

Hope for Haiti Program Director Jennifer Lang with students
Hope for Haiti Program Director Jennifer Lang with students

The goal of the USAID SEED scholarships is to build the capacity of young community leaders to make a positive impact in their home country. Scholarships are awarded all throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The Haitian program shines due to the lack of educational and professional opportunities for students here – particularly in the rural provinces, like the Southern Department, which is home to Hope for Haiti’s programming in education, nutrition, healthcare, and community development.

Most of the scholarship recipients had only returned back to Haiti in June or July of this year, so the summer meeting was the first chance for them to interact as a group. All of the staff and students were so happy to be back together, proud of their accomplishments over the past two years and excited for their new futures.  Gina Nocera, the program coordinator, lead a discussion on re-entry – including the difficulties of reverse culture shock, the need to re-adjust to a home environment without running water or electricity, and the importance of staying motivated. Patrick Chemaly, the program’s director, stressed continued community engagement. “By volunteering with your local church or community, you are putting into action the plans this scholarship helped enable. You are also demonstrating your motivation to a potential employer.”

All of the students had dropped off their curriculum vitae with potential employers, including three who had already secured employment, including with prestigious organizations such as the Haitian Government, the United Nations, Digicel, Brasserie Nationale, and Partners in Health (Zanmi La Sante). The students discussed as a group techniques they had used for follow-up, including specific questions on salary negotiations and how to market their experience. Patrick added, “You are all like sponges – you know how to use computers, learn and do research independently, and adapt to new environments and challenges.”

Hope for Haiti Program Director Jennifer Lang gives her presentation
Hope for Haiti Program Director Jennifer Lang gives her presentation

Hope for Haiti has already proudly invited a SEMENCE alumni to join our team in the South. Jean Herns Dede joined our Healthcare Programs as the Gift In-Kind Program Officer, working to ensure all of our donated medications and supplies are used with optimal efficiency. Herns was a great fit for our staff as he is originally from Les Cayes and wants to give back to his community.

Coordinating with the USAID SEMENCE Program has an important personal value to me. I interned with the Program in administration at Georgetown University’s Center for Intercultural Education and Development (CIED) in Washington, D.C., so it has been wonderful to see the on the ground impact. As our Healthcare Program Director as well as a friend of the SEMENCE Program, I offered advice to students as potential candidates and presented Hope for Haiti’s sustainable programming – including our Infirmary, two reforestation nurseries, and locally-sourced school lunch program. After hearing about our work, many students congratulated the organization and asked to help in their communities or as volunteers! Moreover, we hope that collaboration will be strategic; Hope for Haiti supports three secondary schools as well as one nursing scholarship, and we would love to connect young local community leaders to broadened educational opportunities and resources in the future.

From all of us at Hope for Haiti, congratulations to the SEMENCE students – and good luck!

To learn more about the USAID SEED Program or Georgetown University’s CIED, please visit:



Interns alexandra m. and gertry r. coming in for a workday 

Cultivating the Next Generation of Haitian Professionals

Ms. Daiyana Noa, Development Assistant (Naples)
Dr. Sabine Thomas, Country Director (Haiti)

This summer Hope for Haiti had the privilege of welcoming two Haitian national interns to our Les Cayes office. This new initiative is focused on investing in a generation of Haitians who wish to remain on the cutting edge of international development, charity, innovation and technology all the while contributing to the growth of their country. These interns are spending several months in our office, putting their skills to use but also picking up new tools for their kits, before heading back to school or following a career of their choosing.
We welcomed Alexandra who has just completed a second year at Quisqueya University in Port-au-Prince with a focus in Business Management. Alexandra is our Administration/Event Coordination Intern. We also welcomed Gretry, a young man who had the opportunity to travel to the United States and cross-pollinate his skills with that of his peers in the US.  Gretry is our Healthcare/Database Intern.

Interns Alexandra M. and Gertry R. coming in for a workday
Interns Alexandra M. and Gertry R. coming in for a workday

We caught up with our intrepid interns and interviewed them on their time and experience with Hope for Haiti.

1) Hope for Haiti: What interests you the most about Hope for Haiti?
Alexandra: The education program interests me most, because my mother worked in an Elementary school. I was very interested in the teacher training seminars.  I liked the passion and focus of the visiting teachers . They trained the Haitian teachers to use different methods which will help enhance  student  performance. It would be great if Hope for Haiti was able to offer more teacher trainings.  Also, I enjoy working on the administrative side helping the Country Director with her daily tasks. It’s a well-run organization!

Gretry: I am most interested in the work that’s being done in healthcare. Today, I can really see the results of Hope for Haiti’s hard work. To visit Hope for Haiti’s partners and meet children in need (knowing they have been left) and that as an organization we provide help … that feels really good! Lending my skills, I would like to help and be part of this team in whatever way possible!

2) What interests you the most about working for Hope for Haiti?
Alexandra: The working environment! Hope for Haiti is a family; all the staff members are very respectful. One can work with joy and ask questions freely knowing that the staff is happy to answer them. They  are willing to help when you ask.  Also, knowing that every task I do is a way to help my community gives me great pleasure. As I always say “it’s not the quantity but the quality.” In this case, Hope for Haiti cares about quality and quantity!
Gretry: New challenges, great staff, great work environment, and helping everyone!

3) What have you learned since the internship began?
Alexandra: I have learned many things! I feel indispensable. When given a task, I make sure it’s completed, and I try to do my best even if I don’t know exactly how to do it. I work without stress!  I also learned how to organize an event and all the details it requires. I have learned to trust in my skills now.

Gretry: I have learned how to conduct a proper inventory of medical supplies; performed analysis of work done at the Infirmary St. Etienne; created new templates/filed purchase orders; and experienced, first-hand, what the organization is doing.

Interns Alexandra M. and Gretry R, working with Daiyana our Naples Development Assistant
Interns Alexandra M. and Gretry R, working with Daiyana our Naples Development Assistant

4) Would you recommend interning at Hope for Haiti?  Why?
Alexandra: Yes, because I think in Haiti the majority of youth do not have this opportunity. I’ve heard that in the US you have to do an internship or volunteer before you get your diploma. I wish this was the case in Haiti. To me, it’s not the pay that is most important but that you feel joy and you help another person in this experience. You learn new skills and practice them in a professional environment.

Gretry: Yes, because of the work environment and the opportunity to learn something new every day. An intern will also learn how an organization focused on international development in Haiti functions.

5) How is Hope for Haiti contributing to the future of your country?
Alexandra: The desire to help others is contagious. Hope for Haiti works very hard to help in the South around Les Cayes. Hope for Haiti is educating people, changing minds and many benefit from their work. I encourage all the people who can donate to do so because those donations are creating opportunities and changing the lives of many.

Gretry: As an example, we visited one of Hope for Haiti’s  partners  and I saw how  passionate they are when it comes to helping the people who need it the most. Helping the poorest of the poor is the best thing because no one  else is caring for them; not the government, not anyone…  Hope for Haiti is providing a real hope to the poorest of the poor.
Jennifer Lang, Hope for Haiti’s Healthcare Program Director expressed that “having the opportunity to work with interns has been extremely beneficial to our work in Les Cayes. Gretry has helped with administrative tasks and data-entry with keen attention to detail. These tasks have a true impact on our efficiency. For example, by analyzing our Infirmary’s medication usage, we can better predict our needs and work as a team to source more key materials through donations. All of our interns, joining us in Haiti or in the U.S., have offered positive energy and a willingness to help and learn!”

This has been a gratifying experience for all our staff at our office in Haiti and also in Naples. We wish our interns the best in their future endeavors and thank them for spending their summer learning new skills and sharing their knowledge with us!



Dr. Esperance Dupervil

“This is My Haiti” – Dr. Esperance Dupervil

Dr. Bernadette Esperance Dupervil has been working as Hope for Haiti’s Infirmary Saint Etienne Dentist for the past two and a half years. Entering as a volunteer, Dr. Dupervil supported Healthcare Director Dr. Steeve Victor with all tasks, even working in the Pharmacy and arranging donated medications. Reflecting on her tenure, she describes Hope for Haiti as a “family – because in a family we support each other. That’s what I’ve seen during my time here.”

Family has defined much of Dr. Dupervil’s professional and personal experiences. As a child, Dr. Dupervil was an active ballet dancer and dreamed of becoming a psychologist. Education was extremely important to the family. Her siblings include an engineer working in Delaware, a pediatrician trained in Cuba, and a secretary working in Florida. Explaining their exceptional motivation, Dr. Dupervil cites her father—a fellow dentist in Les Cayes, Haiti – as an influence. “My dad’s happiest day was when I decided to be a dentist. I hated the idea of it at first, but when I was in high school I started working with him at his clinic during my vacations. After a couple of years, I started to love it. Then, I took the exam – five years later I was a dentist. Some of my dad’s friends were my teachers, so they always motivated me because I was expected to do better than everyone else. It was especially important to my family because I was the woman on my mother’s side of the family to continue the farthest in my professional education.”

Her mother inspired the devoted daughter growing up. “Every year for New Year’s, my mom prepares eight pots of soup joromou to give to the poor.” The delicious pumpkin soup is the symbol of New Year’s and Haitian Independence Day. “My mom turned giving to others into a big party. She’s done it ever since I was little, and she still does it. I learned charity work from her; Even if I don’t have much, I share it.” This drive to serve others motivates the Dentist every day in her work at the Infirmary, where she serves the poorest of the poor – for less than 37 cents per visit for many patients who have never had access to previous care.

“The best word to describe my work is ‘patience.’ I find that when you’re a dentist you have to be calm; the patient can feel your nerves. If you’re not calm, the patient won’t be calm.” Her passion for working with the Infirmary’s patients extends to the Pharmacy. “Medications are really expensive in Haiti, especially for two month prescriptions. We help people who can’t afford it, who have to choose between medication and food. It’s really important to me that we give away our medications for free.”

The twenty-nine year old is a new mom and hopes to keep growing, in her family and her profession. “I hope that the educated class of Haiti doesn’t leave. If I’m leaving, my peers leave. Haiti can’t develop without our leaders. We should stay, and help build, and fight to get better. Even if I don’t see the progress, my children will. I believe it can get better.” To advance her career in Haiti, Dr. Dupervil hopes to continue her education. “It’s difficult in Haiti to do correspondence courses, but I’d like to study more specialty courses. I’m particularly interested in psychology to help treat my patients, and then medical administration is of growing importance.”

“What my dad taught me made me love being a dentist – I can’t see myself doing anything else!” Dr. Esperance’s dedication to her patients, and to Hope for Haiti’s mission to serve the people of Haiti, make her a valuable asset to our Infirmary and to her country”.