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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who We Serve

In August of 2009 I made a commitment to teach in Haiti for 2 years. As a result of the earthquake I had a choice to make. I could have returned to the United States, refocused on the plight of urban America, and devoted myself to the needs of students and children in the inner city. I chose, however, to remain in Haiti, not so much because I had made a commitment, but I found somewhere that inspired me, and showed me that so near to our borders there are countries in need of even more help than the poorest individuals in our country. The commitment H.E.R.O. has now made to Haiti is not one of 1-2 years, but for a lifetime. Our goal is to help the next generation of youth in Haiti, to become educated and participatory citizens in their democracy. Which youth, though, is an important question?

There are, in my opinion, four layers (one could argue 10) of wealth and poverty in Haiti. Don’t let anyone ever tell you there aren’t wealthy people in Haiti, because there are, plenty. And similarly to the United States there are those wealthy individuals who feel it is their responsibility to help those less fortunate than themselves, and there are the wealthy that choose not to help their own country, even thought the most degrading poverty in the Western Hemisphere is outside their front door. There exists a middle class in Haiti, and there also exists the poor, but the poor that find a meal everyday and even have daily jobs. But, this fourth level of stratification, the one we don’t see too often in first world countries like the United States is that of abject poverty. It is the orphans and street children of Haiti whose life conditions are a result of abject poverty that H.E.R.O. seeks to help. We want to serve the most disenfranchised youth in Haiti.

We are educators at H.E.R.O. We hold firmly to the belief that not only can all children learn, but that all children have the potential to become college and work ready educated individuals. Education is what we do best. There are many orphanages, foreign-built schools and programs, etc. that provide educational opportunities. Some work with the top students in all of Haiti, some work with anybody that shows up at their doorstep, some offer quality programs, some do not. Each of the founders of H.E.R.O. has worked with underserved populations in the United States and abroad and we are uniquely qualified to provide the best educational opportunities to the most disenfranchised youth in Haiti. We all feel a duty, a responsibility, because of our fortune to have lived and been educated in the United States, to provide the same opportunities to others. We hope that you will continue to follow us, encourage us, and support us during this experience. Together, we can make a difference one child at a time.

Steven Kirby


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