Jack Henderson - Haiti Operations Specialist, Pittsburgh Kids Foundation
Twenty years ago, my dad, Brad, took his first trip to Haiti and spent most of his time at Initiative D’Aide De developpement D’Encadrement D’Enfant (IDADEE), an orphanage in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. Overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts his takeaway by the end of the trip was simple: love these kids like they were his own.
It wasn't until a few years later that his commitment to Haiti, and the relationships he had built there were put to the test. On a return trip, some of the older students pulled him aside with papers and drawings clenched in their determined fists and said, "We are so thankful for everything God has provided for us through this orphanage, and we want to play a part in providing something like this for other kids in Haiti. Will you help us?"
Today, through their partnership with IDADEE, the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation (PKF) plays a supporting role in addressing some of the most prominent challenges that children in Haiti face. IDADEE, the PKF, and many others have contributed to the creation and ongoing support of new children's homes, schools, water and sanitation initiatives, a medical clinic, micro-finance opportunities, and summer camps.
After years of hearing about the impact IDADEE and PKF were having, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Recently, I assisted in developing a sustainable micro-finance project, and I serve as a co-director, alongside some Haitian friends, to put on a summer camp every year for over 200 kids. Now in my first job after college as a client advocate at a healthcare information organization, I am also hoping I can start to contribute to other projects, like the resourcing of a new medical clinic.
I have learned many things through this experience, including the idea that the first step in addressing big problems is listening to and spending time with those affected most. I think there is often a tendency for people and organizations to become so focused and fixated on a cause, that they lose sight of the communities and individuals that possess the real keys to change and progress.