On November 26, 2011, I was invited by my friend Antoine Derose to attend a Gala Dinner in Toronto, Canada, presented by Pierspective Entraide Humanitaire (P.E.H.) to raise funds for the construction of a primary school in Corail, just outside Port au Prince, Haiti. In addition to serving as Vice-President of P.E.H., Antoine is President of the Haitian Cultural Network of Toronto and Founding President of the Haitian Association of Toronto. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Eric Pierre, Founder and President of P.E.H., during the evening and learned of his passion and commitment to help the children in his native Country.
The Keynote Speaker was Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter, who shared her experiences of making 11 trips to Haiti in the months after the January 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti. Mrs. Porter spoke of the challenges of Haiti’s citizens, especially the young boys and girls who had displayed amazing courage and resiliency in the aftermath of the disaster.
I had the pleasure to be seated with four, teenaged Haitian boys that evening. They told me that even though billions in financial aid had poured into Haiti from around the world, their families’ destroyed homes had still not been re-built 22 months later and their families were still living in tents. I could only imagine the stress and uncertainty that continued to be their burden for so many months. Yet these boys displayed such a positive, ‘things will get better’ attitude, I quickly realized Haitian people are special. They had a resiliency in the face of crushing hardship and adversity that we could all learn, and be inspired, from. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the ‘seeds’ for NexGenHaiti had been planted that evening.