From Kenya to Haiti
Global student exchange at HELP
April 18, 2012
This past November, we welcomed a team from the Global Give Back Circle (GGBC) to the HELP Student Center in Port-au-Prince for a 10-day exchange and training program facilitated by The MasterCard Foundation. GGBC’s mission of guiding disadvantaged girls to complete their education, gain marketable skills, and become agents of change has much in common with HELP’s goals. The visit was designed to bring together our complementary scholarship organizations and to expand HELP’s existing mentorship program using the GGBC model.
The GGBC team that visited HELP was composed of Assistant Project Coordinator Lizzie Lahey and two stand-out GGBC students from Kenya: Mary Mwende and Damaris Wanjiku. They worked closely with five HELP students and HELP staff.
HELP’s current mentorship program matches incoming students with older students who can provide academic support and personal encouragement, and share advice and experience from their time at HELP and at university in general. The GGBC mentoring model, based on the three pillars of gratitude, goals, and giving back, goes one step further, linking students with a professional mentor in the broader community, thereby creating a relationship that can outlast a student’s time in school. Nemdia Daceney (economics, class of 2014), one of the HELP student team members, was impressed with the program: “The give-back concept is very important for a long-lasting program and for creating effective change in the Haitian community,” she says. “Working with GGBC enhanced my current mentorship with several HELP freshmen, and has also inspired me to continue to mentor other Haitian students in the future.”
The group worked for several days to adapt GGBC’s professional mentoring model to meet the needs of HELP students. They created a structure and action plan, and presented the project to the Voila Foundation (one of Haiti’s leading telecom companies and a long-standing HELP supporter) as the first step in gaining private sector mentors to participate in the program. Indieu Jules (computer science, class of 2012) says “GGBC helped me discover my public speaking skills and how much I can convince people with a presentation. And with them I learned that education can create a more equal society, especially when successful people mentor students and when students are committed to giving back to their society.”
To culminate the visit, HELP organized a field trip for GGBC and HELP students to the mountain town of Kenscoff, nearby waterfalls, a historic sugar cane factory, and a beach day. GGBC students Mary and Damaris particularly enjoyed getting to know the country: “You taught us a lot about your culture,” they said of the HELP team. “And quickly we fell in love with Haiti and HELP and your lively staff and students!”
At the end of the 10-day visit, all participants were pleased with the exchange between Haitian and Kenyan scholars and the GGBC and HELP staff. “We know that you will continue to have a successful and inspiring mentoring and recruitment program and wish you all the best of luck,” said GGBC team leader Lizzie. “We look forward to staying in touch and hearing all about the mentoring journeys to come.” “It was such a great opportunity to meet the GGBC members,” says Jamesly Pierre (finance, class of 2014). “I learned a lot from them about the importance of a mentor in a student’s life. I was so delighted to work with them and I want to thank HELP and GGBC for this initiative.”