Nemdia Daceney

Economics – Class of 2013

Nemdia loves haute couture. She grew up watching her neighbors sew clothes and used to dress up her dolls. If she has her way, she’ll make enough money with her economics degree to open her own studio someday.She still does fashion sketches, “but keeps them hidden in a drawer.” Having attended an all-girls’ high school, Nemdia says she’d never had male friends before joining HELP. “They helped socialize me,” she says. Without the organization’s financial aid, she might have tried to open a small beauty salon instead of going to university. Her parents are very poor – her father is unemployed and her mother sells food from a street stand across from the capital’s General Hospital – that Nemdia regularly gives them part of her monthly stipend from HELP. Nemdia was in her first year of university when the January 2010 earthquake ravaged the capital. The foundation of her family’s home in Port-au-Prince was dangerously cracked, and HELP gave her a place to stay so that she would not be left homeless. While waiting for classes to resume, she was part of a team of HELP students that assisted with a rape prevention and prosecution project led by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) in refugee camps in and around Port-au-Prince. She also assisted INURED, the Haitian social security administration, to register data collected through a census of people living in camps in the Cite-Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince. In addition to these volunteer efforts, Nemdia interned as the Library Manager at the HELP Student Center from May to October 2010, and is also the house manager for one of the three HELP dorms – the youngest student to be given this responsibility. Though Nemdia acknowledges the enormous impact of the earthquake, it has only increased her dedication. “I was a victim of the quake,” she says. “My house was destroyed, I lost friends and neighbors. But l won’t lose courage! I have dreams and I will accomplish them.”