Building Unity

Last weekend, Solisyon Kominote Yo had a field excursion with its youth group and financial literacy group. We included pertinent discussions while having some time for laughter and exploration while visiting Fort Liberte. UJANE – Union de Jeunes Association de Nord Est – and AJF – Assosasyon de Jeunes Formateurs – linked together for a day filled with inspiration and practical lessons.

UJANE met to discuss the progress of their bracelet business as they were able to sell USD $120 worth of bracelets over the past few months. They identified the following points to focus on in order to improve their business:

  • Design: Bracelets of single color sell more
  • Impact: Important to collect data to measure their impact – i.e. how many bottles they have collected (1 plastic bottle makes 2 bracelets, and on that same day we collected over 20 plastic bottles!)
  • Marketing: Enhance story-telling component – create a tag to accompany the bracelet that tells their story.
  • Branding: Need to create a brand name

They also asked some important questions, on whether they could have access to a more regular market to sell their bracelets. Unfortunately, right now the only transport we have for the bracelets are those who travel to and from the States.

We also shared with them a handmade tool that allows them to cut the plastic more efficiently, which they will build in the coming weeks.

They are very excited about this entrepreneurial opportunity and recognize the opportunity it has to remove plastic from the environment through art! They are eager to make more bracelets so they can participate in more trainings to learn a variety of pieces they can make out of the plastic.

Please reach out to olivia@cesolutions.org if you are interested in purchasing a bracelet.

We also had a meeting with the Association of Young Trainers, who had their monthly community savings bank meeting and revisited the rules within their group. They have been together for over 2 years and have accumulatively saved over 30,000 gourdes (USD $500)! They are eager to continue advancing their professional development and asked about an opportunity for an information technology course and an additional financial literacy train the trainer program.

SolKomYo encouraged them to use some of their savings from their community savings bank to jointly invest in a course they can complete together, an example of how SolKomYo encourages community actors to be agents of change and helps to identify innovative financing solutions to achieve their goals.

After these meetings, the group came together and we had a lively discussion around themes around respect, responsibility, and culture. Examples of prompts included: What is our role as youth in the household? What is the role of money and how can we manage it? Or what do we love about our culture and what must we do to value it? We all sat around a tree as we discussed these topics – to have an opportunity for youth to share and reflect on these subjects is an invaluable opportunity for peer to peer learning that SolKomYo strives to cultivate.

All in all, it was a day of exploration leaving with added insight into the future leaders of tomorrow.

 

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Members of UJANE discuss pertinent questions about life, culture, and their roles and responsibilities as youth. 

 

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SolKomYo’s Summer Empowering Youth in Ouanaminthe

Solisyon Kominote Yo kicked off the summer with our Youth Empowerment Summer Series – 16 youth from community organizations and local schools in Ouanaminthe are on their way to be the next changemakers in their community.

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Here are the 16 youth that are participating in our summer program – all from different schools in Ouanaminthe!

Solkomyo invests in youth to inspire them to be agents of change in their communities and provide them with the skill set to understand how to identify problems in their community and identify entrepreneurial solutions to address them. After the training, they will transmit this inspiration and knowledge to their peers and encourage one another that anything is possible.

 

 

We follow the Dream It Do It approach that Ashoka institutes for its changemakers, involving a series of trainings where students begin to identify the problems in their communities and design sustainable ventures to address them. Within these modules, we’ve included a series of skills-based training involving financial literacy, communication, leadership, and entrepreneurship. We’ve also included subject-specific discussions around climate change, natural resource management, and civil society, as these topics are priorities identified by the communities.

 

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The students participate in a training on entrepreneurship to understand that it is possible to design sustainable business ventures to solve the priority needs of the community.

 

We wanted to be sure the youth see real-world applications of this work, and included visits to social enterprises in the northeast of Haiti that are working to address societal and environmental problems, including our partners at SOIL, Green Charcoal, Thread International, and the local agricultural institutions we work with (social enterprises at heart!).

 

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The youth visit a community agricultural center to understand the importance of agricultural development and that farming is a social enterprise in and of itself.

 

The youth participants are dedicated, enthusiastic, respectful, and inquisitive. They are engaged in the topics and already have ideas of social enterprises including transforming waste-to-artisan material and community reforestation projects.

The combined activities allow for a summer both theoretical and practical for the students to find the means, knowledge, and aspiration to know that their dreams can become reality!

 

Inspired by Youth in Ouanaminthe

In August of this year, SolKomYo started a project with 5 youth groups in Ouanaminthe. 15 youth participated in trainings in Leadership, Communication, Environment, and Natural Resource Management. After the modules, the students entered a competition in which each group designed a project that addressed an environmental problem that affected them, and then implemented this project for 3 months in their communities.

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One of the youth groups, UJANE, conducts a session with its’ members explaining the importance of the environment and natural resource management.

Last Sunday, we held the final event of the competition and heard the work that the youth had completed. A judge of 4 professional agronomists, including a representative from the Haiti Ministry of the Environment, gave feedback after each presentation and selected the winners based on the groups’ performance and impact they created in their communities.

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The youth celebrate the completion of their Environmental and Natural Resource Management Competition.

It was quite impressive hearing about what the students did during these months. The students exhibited dedication and leadership during their projects by reaching out within their communities, local schools, and community organizations. One group conducted trainings on the environment to their youth group and then together planted a citrus garden in their community. Another created a broadcast on the radio to spread the importance of environmental protection and hosted a skit in different neighborhoods around Ouanaminthe. Others brainstormed ideas to create a categorized waste disposal system in Ouanaminthe.

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The youth plan sample projects together during the SolKomYo training sessions.

During the event, the students had an opportunity to detail what they had learned from the experience, expressing how they never thought they could be leaders but after participating in the program they realized their capabilities. They saw talent within their teams and gained capacity to work with other youth. The potential and responsiveness they saw in the communities made them hopeful that with willpower, real change is possible.

During the final event, the youth groups present the work they have achieved in front of the panel of judges.

SolKomYo enjoys working with the students to share in their creativity and dedication and inspire them to be the leaders of tomorrow. This project enables the youth to become agents of change in their own community, gain leadership and teamwork abilities, and promote awareness and community action on how to protect the environment.

From the feedback SolKomYo received, the youth really enjoyed participating in the program. They had a lot of fun while also building leadership and communication skills along the way.

SolKomYo hopes to continue to engage the youth with further projects at the start of next year. Please stay tuned!

Creating Youth Leaders in Ouanaminthe

Introducing Solisyon Kominote Yo’s new innovation title, SolKomYo ak Jen! (Youth in Community Solutions). SolKomYo has been very involved with the youth in Ouanaminthe to be agents of change in their own community.

In 2014, SolKomYo launched an Urban Agriculture Competition addressing food security during which over 60 youth were engaged and 10 innovative methods to cultivate food within the city were designed. This project included new ideas to address lack of water, seeds, rising temperatures and other difficult environmental factors.

To continue this impact, this Fall, SolKomYo ak Jen began a Leadership and Environment Program in which they engage 15 youth to become advocates for change in their own community to address environmental issues. Five organizations, with three youth representatives from each organization, were invited this month to participate in a series of trainings on Leadership, Communication, the Environment, and Natural Resource Management. The students designed their own projects ideas to create community action around a cause they care about. Each group presented their 10-minute pitch to the group. Students were very creative, with ideas in beginning community awareness days, creating community action on waste management, and forming other youth groups to be leaders in their community.

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Trainers, Felix and Evens, give a dynamic lesson on Natural Resource Management to the youth participants.

For the next two months, the youth will implement their projects in the community and SolKomYo will mentor and support the groups.  In December, the students will present their projects results and the impact they reached in their community. SolKomYo will continue to engage the youth to help scale the initiatives they created.

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The youth groups give their pitches on their community action projects.

This project enables the youth to become agents of change in their own community. They gain leadership and teamwork abilities, while also promoting awareness and community action on how to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect natural resources. By engaging the students to design their own projects that will be most impactful in their communities, the students are empowered to come up with the solutions that they think will speak to the needs of their communities most effectively.

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The 15 students that are participating in SolKomYo ak Jen Youth Empowerment Program.

 

Addressing environmental stresses requires a community based solution, because it is a shared responsibility that needs everyone’s contribution. The youth are the fit to lead that change, as they are leaders in their community and can promote a long-term shift in community behavior towards better environmental practices.

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Solisyon kominote Yo and The Sisters of San Juan in Ouanaminthe invited 6 local schools to celebrate The International Day of Children in the courtyard of the Sisters Homeon June 1st. The day began with an introduction of the organizations present, which was Solisyon Kominote Yo, the Sisters of San Juanita, and Codevi, each explaining the importance of youth in Ouanaminthe.

SAM_0036Members from Las Hermanas, Codevi, College Belle Amour, and Solisyon Kominote Yo team up to help prepare for the event.

The event was a unique opportunity to provide a day of celebration for the 300 students that came, and to show that across all schools in Ouanaminthe, children have rights and access to freedoms, and represent the future of Haiti. Each school prepared a short activity to present in front of the class, filling the space with song, dance, poetry, and theater.

 

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Students from the schools prepared activities to perform in front of the group.

 

The event was also a way to build great partnerships between Solisyon Kominote Yo, the Sisters of San Juan, Codevi, and the schools in Ouanaminthe, creating a strong platform to continue working together in the future.

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Members from Las Hermanas and Solisyon Kominote worked together to coordinate the event.

Growing food in your backyard

posterOn Saturday October 25th we will launch an urban agriculture competition for youth. The competition is focused on identifying and awarding the most innovative youth-led projects in food security and nutrition. Haiti has one of the youngest populations in the world – 60% is under 24 years old.  The country imports more than 50% of its food and more than 1.52 million Haitians representing 15% of the population – are classified as severely food insecure

 At this competition we are expecting over 60 youth from 10 local schools and youth groups. The youth will form intervention teams and during one month they need to put in practice and innovative project to grow vegetables in the city. Each team will replicate the project in their school yards or in their homes. The winning projects will be selected on November 29th based on Innovation, Creativity, Effort and Replicability.

The youth are accompanied during the project by Solisyon Kominote Yo and Jeunes en Action. Jeunes en Action is a youth group which was formed during Ashoka Youth Venture activities in Ouanaminthe in 2013. We will keep you updated as the activities take of.

“4 seasons” are changing Haiti agriculture environment

The “4 seasons” group is made of 5 very active youngsters: Baptiste Evens, Fleuradin Rose-Gerlande, Antoine Wilner, Calixte Guepson and Saint-Ilbert Moliette.  “4 seasons” seeks to improve the yields of farmers living in the surrounding of Ouanaminthe, in the North-East of Haiti, while still preserving the environment. For that, they teach to farmers new techniques that they have learned themselves at school: farmers learn how to make natural environment-friendly fertilizer and insecticide that enables a dramatic increase in the yields while keeping the soil fertile. This initiative enables farmers’ revenues increase, and fights against rural exodus.

The team members are truly involved: they regularly go on field, where they have the opportunity to put into practice the new skills and techniques they learn during their agronomy classes. They try to create the maximum impact by training the farmers they consider the most motivated and the most likely to spread their newly acquired knowledge. They also work in collaboration with the local authorities to secure their support. They have trained 175 farmers so far, and their objective for 2014 is to reach 500 farmers. The “4 seasons” counts on the creation of a snowball effect through the fact that the farmers that they trained will become teachers themselves.

The “4 seasons” group is part of the Ashoka’s Youth Venture initiative in Ouanaminthe. As such, they have benefited from a financial support and from advice. By creating both social, environmental and economic impact in their communities, those young people are real changemakers.

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Seeds for change

Being able to grow your own food gives great independence to many individuals and families. Even when you don’t have money you can go in your garden and pick up a tomato, a cucumber and make diner. The idea is simple if individuals and families of Haiti can grow their own food they will become food independent.

Access to seeds it is often very challenging here, either the seeds are poor quality, are packed in large large quantities or are difficult to find. In this way only those who are doing large scale agriculture can access good, affordable seeds. To give you an example a can of carrots contains 500g of seeds out of which, if they are good quality, you will be able to produce up to 250,000 carrots. If you are not a large scale cooperative, probably those are way too many carrots and even if you are you need way to preserve them…

So this is where we intervene, we are able to purchase high quality seeds and re-pack them in small envelops equivalent to what a family will need. by doing this farmers can diversify their culture and provide a healthy meal for their families. Also we provide the small scale farmers with basic knowledge of what sees work better in that specific part of the year, how to plant it, how much water…etc.

To distribute the seeds we are using the network of the community advisers. They are already known very well their community and the surrounding.  Often they are asked “what solutions are they bringing next?” since they sell under the name of community solutions. This time they when they are asked they can add to solar lamps, water filters, stoves and glasses, seeds. In parallel with seed access we are also exploring drip irrigation systems and urban agriculture.

We are continuously looking into how simple solutions can transform every day life in a positive way.

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Youth and Leadership in Action

In October 2013 more than 50 youth from Ouanaminthe aged between 14 to 21, graduated from a course in Leadership.  Led by Jeunes en Action (Youth in Action), a group formed of 3 ambitious youth that emerged during the Ashoka Youth Venture activities during the spring. This was their second training session. The first activity took place during the summer, and 18 youth participated then.

Rolex 18, Ricarthson 16 and Mackenlove 19 chose to focus on leadership because they believe it is the missing link for the future of their community. Their goal is to be “training youth to avoid growing up with bad attitudes and allow them to be real leaders in the town of Ouanaminthe.” The topics they covered include: the qualities of a good leader, technical communication, public speaking, and negotiation techniques. The innovative element they bring is that being youth themselves they can empathize easily with the group and adapt their training session to the participants needs, in the same time having fun and express their well articulated points of view.

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Leadership group graduationAlso, as it was the graduation ceremony they had few artistic moments prepared with and for the participants.