How will the program ensure that the girls can integrate back into their culture without having a “rich man’s” superiority complex?
This is a major challenge for any humanitarian aid program – especially one that provides living quarters and personal interaction with those they are trying to serve. Past experience has shown that Haitians who are supported by the “whites” develop superiority complexes and look down on those that do not have their benefits. They can also become dependent on handouts and come to expect that all their wishes will be granted. There is also the danger that girls will not wish to integrate back into their communities and will instead travel to the city or another country in an effort to regain the standard of living they have become accustomed to.
We cannot guarantee that these problems and attitudes will not manifest themselves in the girls from this program. We cannot; however, stop trying to serve those that can be helped because of the potential for a few bad attitudes. There are several things that we will do to mitigate these problems:
- Girls will be taught accountability and responsibility – especially in the realm of personal finances. They will not simply have everything given to them. They will learn the value of hard work and managing their resources.
- The girls will remain in the program until they are old enough to overcome some of their selfish tendencies. Our hope is that they will be motivated by a love for God and their fellow citizens to remain in their communities and contribute to their churches, schools, and neighborhoods.
- We will teach the girls that life is not about pursuing selfish desires. We will work to teach them good values and give them a world view that will help them understand the joy of helping the disadvantaged.
Shouldn’t girls be guided toward a life at home, rather than a career away from home?
Education is extremely important in any society. Without education, a person cannot and will not advance. This is true for both the men and women. The Haitian culture is very integrated, and many times multiple families will live in very close proximity to each other – or even in the same building. It is quite common for children to be raised by their parents along with grandparents, relatives, and neighbors. For this reason, having a mother work outside of the home is not an undue burden to the family, and the income she can generate will be very beneficial to the welfare of all.
Why is this program for girls? What about the boys?
The grounds at Leogane is not large enough to accommodate boys and girls, so we have to work with one or the other. The program at Leogane was started in the early 90’s as a program for girls, and has continued that way since. The grounds are not ideal for a boys’ program since boys generally need more space for work and recreation. There is a need for strong leaders in Haiti, both men and women. As in any culture, there are frequent cases of girls being overworked, ignored, and abused.