Dany Selmé

Economics – Class of 2008

My name is Dany Selmé. I was born in 1985 in Petite Rivière, a small town in central Haiti. My mother has three children and my father had five other children before met my mother.

He didn’t live with my mother because he had to take care of his other children. So I was raised by my mother who was a poor washerwoman who never went to school. Her income was not enough to feed us every day, so she couldn’t pay for our school.

There was a neighbor, Eliane, who saw that and she sent me to school where I was always the first in my class. After primary school, she sent me to secondary school in Port-au-Prince where I lived with her daughter, Paula. After two years, I couldn’t stay with Paula anymore; she thought I didn’t deserve what her mother was doing for me because my family was so poor as to be worthless.

I was 13 when I left her house. I didn’t have anyone to support me so I was obliged to take care of myself for five years. I couldn’t stay long at friends’ houses; I had to change houses all the time, go to school without eating and walk long distances on foot. Always though, I tried to be first in my class. However, when I got to my final year of high school, my situation became worse. I was staying miles from school, I had no money for transportation and I felt I just couldn’t continue. I became discouraged and depressed. I dropped out of school and went back to my mother’s house. Six weeks later someone offered me a place to stay close to school and when I came back the principal suggested I apply to HELP.

When I was admitted to HELP, it was a rescue for me. Without HELP, university was out of the question. Thanks to HELP, my tuition was paid, I found school supplies; I was less worried about money for food and transportation. Now, I have a degree in economics; I feel that my future is assured and my success has already had an effect on other people. When I visit secondary schools to recruit for HELP, I share my experiences with the students. Many tell me that they see me as a role model that encourages them to make an effort, to think positively, to be strong. It shows them that there is a future for people who value school and study hard.

Today, I know that I have great potential. I want to use my skills to help my country develop and, by my actions, I will change my family’s situation, my community, -why not the world? I am a young tree that HELP has helped to grow. It is a tree whose roots will be strong, whose fruit will feed people, whose leaves will treat people, whose shade will protect people and whose seeds will generate other strong trees. And so I will be useful for my environment. I am thankful to HELP for giving me this opportunity.

In 2009, Dany earned the top score on the hiring exam for the Haitian telecommunications company, Voila. She was hired as a sales analyst at a starting salary of $14,000.