When the HerStory Campaign team and I first landed in Haiti, I was taken back by the beautiful hills, the charming street markets and the warm people. As we drove further into Haiti, however, I started to notice remnants of the 2010 earthquake. The capital city, Port-au-Prince, still has debris, broken car windows and dilapidated houses. The earthquake has taken a great toll on this island nation and the people are still working to fix their infrastructure. The one thing the earthquake didn’t shake is the determination, pride and self-confidence of our HerStory girls in Haiti. Almost everyone we talked to, from young girls to their adult mentors, all expressed optimism that they will rebuild Haiti.
The highlight of our trip to Haiti was the Mini HerStory Summit. The summit was a daylong event, where 80 girls from two sites came together to raise their voices and strengthen each other. The summit centered around one theme: Strong Girls Make Strong Communities. The girls expressed themselves through art and poems about their strengths, past experiences and ways their identities impact their local communities.
I was blown away by the girls’ level of self awareness and commitment to their community. They passionately talked about cleaning up the trash in Haiti, building clean waterways and ensuring children are sent to school. I could see how much they love their country and that they truly believe that the strength to bring positive change in Haiti is within them.
Another thing that thoroughly impressed me was the fortitude of our HerStory mentors in Haiti. During our nearly weeklong visit, I got to interact with mentors who shared powerful stories of challenges they have faced, and how they’ve overcome those challenges. After telling their stories, they emphasized how their past hardships do not define their future success. The mentors also stated that having the support of one another has bolstered their solidarity and strength. I was touched to see them often give each other words of encouragement and supportive hugs. It became very apparent to me that all these young women are genuinely committed to strengthening girls and their community.
As we departed Haiti, I left with so much happiness and hope for our HerStory girls and the country of Haiti. Seeing their strength, passion, and determination to better their communities makes me feel very optimistic for the future of Haiti.
–Binta Freeman, International Program Coordinator
Watch this video to see the story of one of our strong girls in Haiti.