In a day and time where most people’s form of raising awareness for a cause is through crowd sourcing like “Kickstarter,” “GoFundMe,” “Indiegogo” or Facebook, few people are working as true boots on the ground, grassroots efforts.
Williamstown resident Weinette Décossard Pierre-Louis and her daughter Gaelle Pierre-Louis are exceptions to the above rule as they are co-founders of “A Better Tomorrow for Haiti,” an organization dedicated to helping children in Haiti who are suffering from the aftermath of a natural disaster or generational poverty.
Weinette was born in a small rural town in the south of Haiti called Duchity where she was one of seven children. She moved to the United States early in life where she completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bernard Baruch College, The City University of New York with a minor in humanities.
Gaelle earned a bachelor’s degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foriegn Service in culture and international politics. She also has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University.
While “A Better Tomorrow for Haiti” is still in the start-up stage, Weinette and Gaelle are doing their best to improve the livelihood of Haitians in Duchity and Port-au-Prince. The event that sparked the concept was Hurricane Matthew, which devastated the island in 2016.
“I traveled to Haiti and saw firsthand the devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. I gave some financial donations to help students who had lost their school supplies and uniforms,” Weinette said. “I also conducted some surveys on the ground by talking to the youth and their parents and hearing their concerns so that I can better support their needs with this nonprofit organization.”
It is through this research that “A Better Tomorrow for Haiti” developed its main goal, to promote socio-economic development and support literacy efforts for the Haitian youth. Weinette added the objectives are threefold: to engage Haitian youth through quality educational programming; to offer access to training, skills and opportunities for professional development, and to partner with community leaders and initiatives both in Haiti and in the United States to build a global network to tackle problems facing the youth in Haiti.
One of the ways she is looking to assist is through child sponsorship. On their website, abettertomorrowforhaiti.org, there is a tab to sponsor a child’s education.
“Unlike the United States where students have the option to attend public school for free, most of the schools in Haiti are privately run and require students to pay tuition fees in order to attend school,” Weinette said. “In the few public schools available, children still have to pay for books and other materials.”
She added tuition prices have increased over the years, but $500 could support a child’s tuition, uniform, meals and books for one year.
Despite living in the United States, Weinette’s heart is always with Haiti, which is why she is doing her best to help the country she loves.
“It is very important to help the youth in Haiti. For many years, Haiti has been marginalized because of its poverty. Many children did not get a chance to eat a meal a day, let alone attend school to get an education,” Weinette said. “In Haiti, education is a privilege not a right. For the past 30 years, a lot of effort has been done in many communities to address the issues but we are not at the place we should be at this moment.”
Weinette recently traveled to Haiti where she began to put her plan into place. While her nonprofit organization is still in the start-up phase, she said she is seeking members to join the board of directors in addition to a team of volunteers to help fundraise and host a benefit dinner in the community. For those who are technologically savvy, she is looking for someone to help with the website.
Everything she does is for the children of Haiti.
“No children should be left behind,” she said.
For more information about “A Better Tomorrow for Haiti,” visit abettertomorrowforhaiti.org or call (609) 222-9968.