Youth Leadership in Haiti

On Wednesday February 3, more than seven hundred young people gathered at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy to launch the Aristide-Lavalas Youth league  (Ligue de la Jeunesse Aristido-Lavalasse).  The goal of the Youth League is to bring young people together to vitalize Haiti’s democracy and to initiate service projects to help their communities in the fields of education and health.

Each department of Haiti was represented by a delegation of 10-12 young people all of whom made the long trip to Port-au-Prince because they want to contribute to the building of a participatory democracy in Haiti.   Early in the morning of Feb 2, these departmental youth delegations met for a four-hour discussion/ workshop in the conference room of the AFD to share perspectives, brainstorm ideas, and create an orientation for the new organization.  Pyschologist Wladimir Constant facilitated this dialogue titled, “The Leadership of the Young.”

Toussaint Hilaire, director of the AFD addresses the youth delegates

For the second stage of the event the delegations came downstairs, and onto the stage of the auditorium, where they were welcomed with thunderous applause by over 700 other young people from the department of the West (Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas), who gathered in the auditorium to welcome the national delegates and to officially launch this Youth League.

Much of the organizing to launch the Youth League was done by young UNIFA graduates together with the leadership of the Foundation.   These young doctors who began their medical training at UniFA before the 2004 coup d’etat, and then finished their training in Cuba, are now back in Haiti and have been central to all the AFD’s efforts to assist in the wake of the earthquake.   This initiative also builds on the Foundation’s efforts over the past year to empower young people to be at the forefront of service in wake of the quake (though mobile clinics staffed by young doctors, mobile schools staffed by young high school and college graduates, and our youth-led mental health project Soulaje Lespri Moun, and the the reopening of UNIFA ).

Youth Delegates on the stage at the AFD, Feb. 2, 2011

The launching of this youth league represents the determination of all the young people who have came together on February 3, to offer their energy, creativity, and vitality towards a new Haiti.

Rose Yvica Roche Volcy and Yves Merry Stuart Roche were the MC’s for the ceremony in the auditorium.   Hancy Pierre Louis, professor of economics and former Vice Governor of the Central Bank, gave a presentation on Haiti’s economy.

Hancy Pierre Louis addressing the Youth League

Wladimir Constant, spoke again on the centrality of youth leadership, and Toussaint Hilaire, the Director of the Arsitide Foundation spoke about the importance of youth gaining confidence in themselves through service to the country and offered perspectives on the kinds of civic and service projects the Youth League might undertake, such as literacy programs for adults, and educational projects for children who are not in school.

Joseph Marc Anderson, a youth representative then spoke on behalf of the league and presented its charter to those present.

A cultural presentation by Kolonb Dor, the youth troupe of the Aristide Foundation followed.

We look forward to seeing this new organization evolve and flourish.  Only Haitians can rebuild Haiti.