Sophia Francois, Rodlin Christolin and Yves Bernard Remorais are charting a new course for Haiti: they are part of a growing number of young people in their early and mid-20s who dream of a brighter future for Haiti through a proposed Youth Haitian Ambassadors Council. The Council hopes to bring young people to the policy table for meaningful inclusion.

Steeve Simbert, a 20-year-old Haitian student studying in Washington D.C., authored the White Paper – “Call for the Creation of a Youth Haitian Ambassadors Council.” In his case, Simbert maintains the idea that “Young leaders in every country represent their country with the utmost passion and pride. More than ever, in this globalized era, we need the Youth Haitian Ambassadors Council to promote the Haitian Dream – a dream that brings opportunity, economic sustainability and prosperity in Haiti through Union.”

Today, Howard and Haitian university students had thought provoking dialogue and explored solutions to challenges and opportunities for Haitians, Haitian Americans and Americans as a whole.

Sophia Francois received a scholarship to study accounting at a university in New York. In exchange, she committed to return to Haiti after her two years of studies. The January 2010 earthquake struck with six months remaining in her studies. Francois had the opportunity to stay in the university under Temporary Protection Status, an immigration status extended to Haitians due to the quake, but opted to return to Haiti.

“I saw what was happening in Haiti and the country I love,” said Francois, who currently interns for the mobile phone giant Ericsson in Haiti. “ I had to come home to do my part to improve conditions her.”

Haitian American and ASB Haiti co-coordinator Phelisha Midy found the cause and the conviction of the students inspiring.

“This was motivation to me,” said Midy, who is volunteering in Haiti for the second consecutive year. “It makes me proud to be a Haitian, but it also provides tremendous hope for Haiti’s future.”

Howard students shared ideas with the Council members about the use of social and traditional media to build support among young constituents.

“We have seen the vital role social media has played in transformations at home and around the world,” said Shannez Thompson, a junior fashion merchandizing major.

“We also suggested using influential artists as opinion leaders to mobilize Haitian youth.”

During the day, the Howard delegation met with members of the current government, community activists, business leaders and the former Minister of Commerce and Tourism Danielle Saint-Lot. Former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier, “Baby Doc,” also lauded Howard students’ work in Haiti during an afternoon visit to Karibe in Petionville, east of Port-au-Prince. The meetings were facilitated by Howard supporter and Haitian advocate, Rev. Marcia Dyson.

After a full day of engagement, the team will spend the rest of the week providing dental care, hearing screening, building the foundation for a micro finance bank and a number of educational activities.

Keep following our work at Howard.edu/HowardinHaiti

Kerry-Ann Hamilton, director of strategic communications and marketing, is traveling with Howard University volunteers on their service mission to Haiti. The blog “Howard Brings Hope to Haiti” chronicles the travels and work of nearly two dozen students, faculty and staff during Alternative Spring Break 2012.

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