In late 2019, Hope for Haitians representatives met with the nine-member Dumas Leadership Council to discuss impact of the Leadership Training and assess progress on their Goat Project. Of the nine present, four were women, and the youth in the village were represented by one male and one female 12th-grade students. Because we met in the school, more youth learned about the project and requested to become involved moving forward.
This positive is offset somewhat by our assessment that the make-up of this Council is insufficient in terms of skill, technical knowledge, and influence in the community. The original selection process was closed and questionable. One result of this was that a project description and budget were lacking in detail and project goals were not described in the written project report. We discussed the need to reintroduce the program to the village and invite participation from a wider segment of the village. There is a commitment from this Council to do this, with additional training for the new group.
Council members were asked to evaluate the Leadership Training Curriculum, Technical Assistance conducted by Haitian Trainers’ Dadjena Joseph/Junior Mesamour as well as their goat project. Council member feedback on the Leadership Training follows:
“The training is very productive. We learned to work together so the outcome is for the good of the full community.”
When Hope for Haitians conducts initial leadership training with a Leadership Council, it also provides seed money of $1,500 for the council to select and implement a project using what they learned in training. This keeps the training grounded in the task of solving issues for the community. In Dumas, the council chose a small goat project.
“The training is very good, especially as we can apply it to the goat project. We learned to raise goats in a manner different than before this training.”
In the villages where we work, A key element of the initial project is to provide a concrete opportunity to implement the leadership skills presented in the training. This process can be eye opening for the participants and increase their understanding of the issues and the benefits of cooperative community leadership.
“We learned to come together and work together. Our learning abilities are different, so it was good to focus on a project out of the training. The goat project has helped us share our skills.”
“It took a lot in the beginning to work as volunteers. This is not something we are used to doing. But then we see the benefit of working together – and our cooperation has grown with the goats. We hope we can grow this project.”
Following this evaluation session plans were made to expand the leadership council to improve the skill level, knowledge and local influence of its membership. The expanded council will be retrained and work together on the implementation of a expanded goat project. The Leadership Council also identified set a goal to have a medical clinic which is being developed as a separate project.
A key to sustainability in the villages where we work is to build up communities and provide support for opportunities for self direction and locally guided development.