Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Impact of Poverty

One of the difficulties we experience with our students at the University of the Nouvelle Grand'Anse (UNOGA)
is their difficulty in dealing with "if" statements. This was pointed out o us by a professor who aught mathematics at the university. This could point toward a difficulty in looking in to the future and working with possible out comes and open-ended questions. Conditional statements such as "if" statements, are inherently future-orineted.
Th answer to a question about what a student wanted to do after graduation was usually: "Get a job."  According to the professor, when questioned further, most could not be more specific.
We can speculate that this is a phenomenon associated with poverty. When poverty has been the norm for an entire community for multiple generations and people are necessarily focused on obtaining their next meal, there maybe little time or incentive to dream about or plan for the future.
These observations can have serious implications for the future of the students as well as for the university itself. Graduates without dreams and a vision for the future may become employed by an NGO and make a good salary, but will never see the possibilities for future businesses and the impact  a solid, sustainable business can ultimately have on Haiti.
Students who cannot look into the future cannot create a viable business plan. It takes people with dreams and drive, fire in their belly, to inspire others and convince them that what looks impossible is possible.
Not all is lost. Problem-solving skills, planning and creativity can be taught. UNOGA is preparing for that.
Thanks to Bob Boeke for these very astute observations based on his teaching experience at UNOGA.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This is a land
so vibrant and alive
that laughter will come bursting through
as imperious as the sun
and the spirit will survive
resilient as the soil.
- Dennis Brutus 1978 ”Love; the Struggle”

This poem so aptly describes Haiti. We are in a new year now, we have commemorated the 4th anniversary of the earthquake, and the strength and courage described in the lines above shines through at every turn There has been much improvement in 2013, but so much more remains to be done. Already in this the first month of the new year we have experienced a shortage of gasoline, almost 2 weeks without electricity, and because of the latter no water, and now no cooking gas. And yet, life goes on, and amazingly it is not lacking in laughter. The beauty of people visible at every step. While tragedy is always right around the corner, so is laughter, and an unfathomable faith that carries one though no matter what. 

This young man was under the rubble of his fallen down house in Port au Prince after the earthquake, now is in his last year of management study at the University of the Nouvelle Grand'Anse. A survivor in so many ways, who can despite it all laugh today.
Nou se wozo; menm si nou pliye, nou pa’p kase / We are like reeds, though we may bend, we will never break.”