After living in Haiti for nearly six years and being back in the States for four months, I was a little nervous going back for a visit to the Training Center. I knew things would feel different as I experienced things through the eyes of a visitor.
Landing in Haiti brought all sorts of emotions, but I felt a very familiar feeling as I stepped out of the airport into the hot, humid air filled with all the smells that come from 'city-living' in a developing world. As we drove the one hour to Bercy, I couldn't help but smile as I took it all in with fresh eyes. Haiti is such a beautiful country. The views of the mountains on one side and the blue-green waters of the Caribbean on the other never gets old.
My heart swelled as we turned off the main road to cover the final mile back to the
Training Center. I was so excited to see the employees and students we had left just a
few months before. Being greeted in Haiti is like nothing I've ever experienced
anywhere else. No matter how much time has passed, 4 days or 4 months, Haitian's
greet you with the warmest smiles and hugs.
I was not surprised, but I was very pleased to see that things were moving forward in
very capable hands at the Training Center. Our new director, Junior Medard, had
everything under control. There are always growing pains with change, but the staff
seemed like one force moving in the same direction together. The students in the
masonry class that was then taking place were practicing their third day of laying
block to a line. I have to admit that sometimes I can be a bit critical, but I have to
remember that just a week ago, many of these students had never even held a trowel!
For the third day, I was impressed with the quality of work that I was seeing!
The main reason for my visit was to host and help coordinate the trip of a film crew who came to produce some new material for Extollo. While working on this project, I had the privilege to speak with Haitian entrepreneur and author, Daniel Jean-Louis. He has had several conversations previously with our President, Keith Cobell and former Country Director, Craig Janofski. What an honor for him to believe in what Extollo is doing in Haiti so much that he agreed to speak on our behalf in one of our films.
During this trip, I was encouraged. Sometimes we imagine that when we step back from a certain responsibility or job in life, things may fall apart. But over and over, I have seen that when I step down, someone new steps up. At Extollo, we talk endlessly about empowering Haitians. One way we do that is by getting out of the way and allowing Haitians to fill those roles. I can say as a personal witness that this is what is happening at the Extollo Training Center and I could not be more proud to be a part of it!
Digital Media Manager
Wilkens joined the Extollo family in 2012 during the Children's Village build on La Gonave.
In 2016, he was hired full time and commuted by boat every week.
In 2018, his wife and daughter moved to the main island so they could all be together.
Join a like-minded community of world-changers who believe in the future of Haiti.
The vast majority of our students are unable to afford Extollo's high-quality vocational training. As a community of advocates, Elevate Community members provide financial support to ambitious men and women who are elevating their careers, their families and their communities.
Each student at Extollo is required to pay a portion of their course fee. Elevate members commit to covering the remaining cost of $396, which is $33/month.