The Schlegel Villages ambassadors chosen to be part of the 2020 educational voyage to Haiti may come from different backgrounds and have unique skills to offer, but they carry one thing in common: a sincere desire to give of themselves to families from another land they’ve never met before. In doing so, they also hope for their own personal growth in a true exchange of knowledge and understanding.
“I want to be able to help others and do something that is bigger than myself,” says Pamela Croucher, a team member from The Village of Erin Meadows. “I want to gain experience and knowledge about other world struggles and I feel this will empower me to seek other opportunities to be a better person and help others.”
Others share similar sentiments in their hopes for the trip, which will take place in early 2020.
“I believe this experience will contribute to my personal growth, giving me the opportunity to learn about another culture and share my skills with a new population,” says Aspen Lake Julie Fortier. “I am passionate about empowering others and I think this trip presents a unique and rewarding opportunity to do so. I look forward to the challenges of working in a rural community and using my critical thinking and adaptation skills to find workable solutions with fewer resources.”
Building on experience gained during three previous excursions to the small Caribbean nation, which struggles in the face of many challenges and extreme economic turmoil, the 2020 trip will once again focus on strengthening ties with the team from Fonkoze’s Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM) program and the families it supports.
The ambassadors will offer health clinics for the women involved in the program and coinciding day camps for their children. They will also have a chance to visit families in their homes to learn more about how the CLM philosophy transforms lives in the rural countryside north of Port-au-Prince.
Since 2012, Schlegel Villages team members, residents, families and community partners have raised funds in support of the CLM program, which helps some of the poorest of the poor in rural Haiti earn the knowledge and skills required to claw out of extreme poverty. The program’s success rate is astounding, and the ambassadors who travelled to Haiti in 2014, 2016 and 2018 all came home with a renewed understanding of how valuable the program is. That knowledge has since been shared extensively within the village communities, inspiring renewed commitment to the worthy cause.
“This experience changes who you are as a person and I truly underestimated how much,” says Tamara White, who first visited Haiti in 2018 and is one of three returnees chosen for the 2020 experience. “This trip changed my mindset about the way I live my life. It inspired and motivated me to want to be proactive and guide change to better the world we live in.”
Like many of the ambassadors, who are actively raising money inside and out of their villages to fund the excursion, Tamara says one of the most important aspects of the experience is the plan in place to share the knowledge gained with others.