Having the fortune to be raised by a single-mother who emphasized the importance of education, Nephtaly Pierre-Louis (Economics 2017) seized every educational opportunity that came his way.
In primary and secondary school he excelled in all his classes, allowing him to attend the best schools in his home city of Jérémie on Haiti’s south-western peninsula. But it was not until he was accepted to HELP and began the leadership class that he was able to fully appreciate the values of civic responsibility and social entrepreneurship and their potential to transform his country.
“Young people need to be made aware of how to engage with their community and the world of work,” he says.” We currently lack the framework to develop our potential and are too much like robots. We should be striving to be job creators not just job seekers.”
This interest in policy has lead Nephtaly to seek opportunities to precipitate change amongst his peers. Browsing the Opportunity Desk website this past June, Nephtaly came across a six month internship as a blogger for “Voices of Youth” founded by UNICEF in 1995, and after consulting with his HELP advisor he applied and was selected for the position. Nephtaly considers it a privilege to be the sole representative of Haiti amongst the 30 interns.
Inspired by his experiences from childhood and at HELP especially Nephtaly has submitted 20 articles on a wide range of topics including education, community development, economics, equal rights, public health, and climate change. In these posts, he outlines the prevailing issues for Haitians and highlights the aspects particularly relevant to young people, often calling on his generation to become involved and offering ideas, perspective, and solutions to Haitian leaders. This creative outlet for critical thinking and investigative writing has proven to be the perfect forum for debate, where Nephtaly has had the chance to learn from and inspire others. It has also allowed him to get to know himself better and given him the confidence to delve into complicated issues like the informal economy, and the government’s inaction on youth policy. His favorite post explored Haiti’s political history and its influence on modern democratic elections.
When Nephtaly heard that the UN was to convene the first global forum on youth policies in Azerbaijan in October, he jumped at the chance to put himself forward as a delegate. It was a tough selection process, but Nephtaly was one of 200 delegates from 165 countries chosen from 4,700 applicants. Wrapped up in his first winter coat, flying for the first time on his first trip abroad, he set off with high hopes. He returned with a bounty of knowledge on how to monitor, evaluate and improve the status quo and ideas on how to transform the formulaic and staid education system in Haiti. He would like to see a dynamic curriculum and engaging teaching methods including volunteering programs and sports activities to inspire a love for home and country.
In November, along with fellow HELP students Witchelle Charles and Anne-Martine Augustin, Nephtaly attended the Elan Ayiti youth forum where he addressed the audience on his recent experience in Azerbaijan.
With all the inspiring experiences he has had of late, Nephtaly reflects on how different life would be for him if it weren’t for the lessons and opportunities he has been exposed to at HELP. As an only child growing up in sheltered surroundings he admits, “My eyes were closed. I was not exposed to the reality of life, so it was at first difficult to adapt. Now I am more open to people and the world thanks to HELP. The youth of today and tomorrow are Haiti’s inevitable future; I hope my contribution will help pave the way for positive change that comes from within the Haitian population itself.”