Ronel LeFranc

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Ronel originally wanted to be an engineer, but after learning about the environment in high school, he realized that this was his true passion.But there was little money at home, so making it to university was a significant challenge.

His father died when Ronel was 10, his mother works as a subsistence farmer, and his four brothers are all unemployed. Fortunately, a Belgian nun recognized Ronel’s potential in high school and gave him money for essentials. “Because of her, I was able to eat every day.” Today, Ronel sends part of his monthly HELP stipend home to his family. In addition to financial support, Ronel is also able to enrich his studies through HELP’s extra-curricular English, leadership, and IT classes. “I would never have had this opportunity without HELP,” he says. “No one offers student training like this in all of Haiti.”

The January 2010 earthquake destroyed Ronel’s university, but through HELP he was awarded a scholarship to spend the spring term at Dartmouth College. He did so well that Dartmouth invited him to stay for the summer session as well. Ronel learned a great deal about the American approach to agriculture and he was even able to work at the school’s on-campus organic farm. Back in Haiti, Ronel used this knowledge to assist in developing HELP’s new waste management program, including compost pits at the HELP Student Center and all three dormitories.

In November 2011, Ronel was selected to attend the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) conference in Qatar, where he represented HELP and Haiti as one of 30 students from around the world participating in the WISE Learner’s Voice program. He has continued his involvement with WISE, through which he visited Fondacion Paraguy’s self-sustaining organic farm school, and the Rio +20 conference in Brazil during the summer of 2012.

After graduation, Ronel is looking forward to putting his knowledge and skills to work to help solve Haiti’s chronic environmental problems, such as deforestation and species endangerment.