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The Path to a Better Life in Haiti
Published 01/14/2015 by Global Communities
The Path to a Better Life in Haiti
By Jude Martinez Claircidor, Global Communities Haiti Communications Consultant
“I am very proud to perform this work and participate in the reconstruction of Haiti.” –Jean Lucien Lohier
After the 2010 earthquake destroyed many neighborhoods and leveled many homes, Global Communities (formerly CHF International) in partnership with Haytrac/Caterpillar implemented a professional training program for unskilled youth, where 160 young people from especially deprived areas of Haiti – including 30 women – trained and worked as apprentices to learn skills in operating heavy machinery.
The training was initiated in order to reduce the importation of outside labor for the operation and maintenance of heavy equipment used in the field of construction, enabling construction companies operating in Haiti to source local human resources with tailored knowledge and certified in the use of such materials and heavy equipment. It also facilitated the integration of young people into the labor market by promoting their access to training, while also making them role models for other young people.
Through the program, supported by Caterpillar and implemented by Global Communities through the USAID-funded KATA program, students took courses at a center created solely for this purpose. Five years later, many of these young people have participated in clearing and rubble removal activities after the January 2010 earthquake which devastated Haiti. One of them, Jean Lucien Lohier, has worked on a construction site in Petionville, Port-au-Prince, where he drove an excavator shovel. He worked for four years for the company Vorbes & Fils, and is now responsible for the cleaning and drainage of canals in the area, to prevent flooding caused by rainwater.
Jean was born in Jacmel, a town southeast of Port-au-Prince where he completed his primary and secondary education. But afterward he was unemployed because he could not afford more education or attend a vocational school. For a time he worked for an agency in Port-au-Prince, where he earned just $50 US every 15 days. Dissatisfied with his salary and weakened by poverty, he knew he had to search for other opportunities. Then one day through former senator and family friend Jean Hector Anacasis, he learned of the Haytrac/Caterpillar project to train heavy equipment operators. He enrolled in the three-month training, worked hard and was employed with Vorbe & Fils, and today he works on a construction team building roads, reconstructing schools and improving their water and sanitation services, increasing access to water for residents, creating new public spaces, and reinforcing and expanding homes.
Through this work, Jean rebuilds his community and enjoys a new career. Today he earns $1,000 US a month, enabling him to support his family and pay school fees for his younger brother. “With my new job, I was able to build two houses. I think it’s a great achievement. I am very proud to perform this work and participate in the reconstruction of Haiti,” he says. “Through my success, the young people in my neighborhood are closely following my journey and pay particular attention to the training of drivers of construction equipment. I’m proud of myself and the training I received and I would like to benefit from further training in the future.”