It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. While the closure of charities and small businesses has been a devastating reality over the past 10 months, D2C worked hard to stay operational in Haiti. 2020 consisted primarily of ensuring the health and safety of our kids and staff in Haiti, as well as developing innovative fundraising strategies to remain financial stable in an otherwise unstable world.
D2C’s mission is simple. We work to support the needs of these vulnerable children in Haiti and provide them with educational opportunities for a better future. Our vision is for children in Haiti to reach adulthood with the education and skills necessary to help strengthen their economic independence and break the cycle of extreme poverty. This sounds like a lofty vision, and perhaps it is. Large humanitarian organizations with multi-million dollar budgets have not been able to create sustainable development in this impoverished Caribbean nation. D2C is a pebble compared to these megalith institutions.
Nonetheless, since 2012, D2C has not only survived, it has thrived, with the dedication of unpaid volunteers, a handful of Haitian staff, and our community of generous donors. 2020 proved to be no exception. Please find below a brief overview of our efforts this year and plans for 2021.
Our eight Family Home children are growing up strong in body and mind, achieving academic success, and exploring talents and aspirations that would have otherwise been impossible eight years ago. Unfortunately, 2020 began on a difficult note for Haiti after the political and civil unrest that started up in the fall of 2019 became more violent and dangerous over the winter. Schools across the country were shuttered and with the onset of Covid, most students in Haiti lost almost an entire year of education. While online classes do not exist in Haiti, our Family Home staff was resilient and continued lessons at home as well as taking inventive precautions to keep everyone healthy and safe (homemade masks, bleach water rinses…etc). Despite these set-backs, every Family Home youth succeeded in passing their National Academic Exam this fall and has progressed to the next grade. This is a tremendous achievement.
Our Family Home youth are entering adolescence and with that transition, their eyes are on their future as young adults. Alycha, who came to us at 6-years-old as a malnourished domestic slave is now a strong 14-year-old girl who can speak near fluent English and dreams of becoming a nurse. Fednel, whose mother and father both died before he was 10-years-old and who was removed from school due to the $25 entrance fee, is today a strong and friendly young man who is a leader in the house and never without a smile. Looking ahead, we see our girls are becoming independent and strong young women with skill sets that lend to future gainful employment. We hope to get our Girls Sewing Program started in 2021 to support that initiative. In addition, our boys will be starting after-school jobs shortly to begin earning their own income and learning how to properly manage their own savings.
Unfortunately, prior to Covid, D2C was forced to shut down most of its community programs due to the political violence overwhelming the country at the end of 2019. With the rapid spread of Covid and the dire predictions for its public health impact in Haiti, D2C continued its programmatic shut-down out of precaution as well as financial constraint. Critical spring fundraisers were canceled and community programs had to remain closed in order to survive the fiscal emergency we found ourselves in. Over 100 impoverished children are no longer receiving our services as a result. We are determined to make sure this is temporary and will seek to re-establish our local partnerships and continue to provide essential education-based programs to economically vulnerable Haitian youth.
Innovative Fundraising & Remote Oriented Programs:
D2C staff did not sit idle during this difficult year. We got to work restructuring our operations and fundraising strategies to meet the new challenges a Covid world presented. D2C reached out to consultants and corporate partners to research and develop virtual fundraising ideas and new approaches to our communication outreach. With tremendous support from out board, we hosted two virtual “Happy Hour for Haiti” fundraisers. In addition, we initiated the D2C Remote Internship Program for high school and college students interested in learning about international NGO management, advocacy and nonprofit fundraising. Due to the restrictions of Covid, D2C was inundated with applicants for the internship sessions. Over the summer of 2020, we worked with over 30 interns and then an additional four over the fall for a more tailored program focused on fundraising and development. We intend to continue the Remote Internship Program as well as virtual fundraisers into the foreseeable future and likely incorporate them into in-person events in 2022.
After a year like 2020, it may seem prudent to ask why we ought to continue to invest in Haiti and its children. When D2C began, we were acting in a humanitarian capacity. We acted because not to, would have been a failure of moral obligation. However, our vision is now focused on a future where Haiti is prospering and its children can grow in safety and security. The current movement for racial justice that exploded worldwide this year, in many ways, is a continuation of a fight that began over 200 years ago when the Haitian slaves fought for their freedom. Haitians continue to fight for economic and social advancement every day. D2C wants to support that dream. We are digging in and investing in this community which has been fighting and striving not just for the past year or even decade, but for generations.
We hope you will continue to be part of achieving that mission.
D2C Executive Director