A couple of months ago, L’union Suite hosted a charity bowling tournament to raise money for Fleur De Vie’s 4th annual Back to School Recreational Day event in Haiti. I wanted to help this organization after learning about them a year ago through a friend who attended the week-long volunteering and tourism event which host a fun fill event for 4-5 schools, 700 kids ages 6-15 years.
With almost a month left before the event, Fleur De Vie is still recruiting volunteers for this 7-day 6-night trip (September 1st-7th) that will give volunteers the opportunity to get involved and explore in the Port Au Prince area! Volunteers will assist in activities which include health screening, environmental sustaining tips, and team building recreational sports.
Those looking to connect and learn more about the culture of Haiti while having a fabulous time and making an impact, this is the trip for you. The week will be spent not only preparing for the recreational day event, but will include sight seeing of places in Haiti that we don’t get to see in the media. The back to school event with Fleur de Vie is the perfect combination of volunteering and tourism. The recreational day event will focus on teaching children the importance of education and its bearing on their future, raising health care awareness, and promoting wellness.
We sat down for a quick chat with Haitian-American founder and chair Dayanne Danier to get more information on the event and why more Haitian-Americans will enjoy joining them this year.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case for families in Haiti. After the earthquake, the experience with our first school allowed us to see the challenges schools and communities face trying to maintain education for the students. When families have a difficult time, schools have a difficult time. Ultimate the ones who suffer are the students and if they are the future, we can’t talk about a better future for Haiti without talking about solving the issues on educating the youth first.
This September is going to be even harder for the parents of our students due to the economy. Our schools are going to need a lot of help.
Fleur de Vie’s focus is to support that need because it is important to educate the students.
How many children are you expecting this year?
We are expecting 600 students this year. That may grow to 800 but for right now we are planning for 600.
Your slogan this year is “Get Involved and Explore” what does that mean?
Our slogan is “Get Involved and explore” because we want to give volunteers the whole package. Many volunteers come on board saying “I always wanted to go to Haiti and give back” which is great because there is so much that still needs to be done. At the same time, there is a whole other side of Haiti that has not really been explored by volunteers who think Haiti is just aid, when it’s not. Haiti its great food, it’s amazing beaches, its breathtaking landscape, It’s everything the world doesn’t want us to see.
What make this volunteer experience different from others?
Our volunteers get really involved in the logistical planning of out Back To School program, from stuffing actual back packs, to doing physical activities with students during the program. While engaging in all of this, we take them site seeing to places not often traveled. As the founder, which I am also an artist; inspiration, motivation, and unique is extremely important to me. So we do a lot to make sure we travel to sites people don’t get to see in other packages, like Parc Martissant, a beautiful garden in the middle of Port Au Prince, it’s a gem. Or even the beaches, while everyone is going to Cote des Arcadins, we are heading to Grand Goave. And the list can go on, we are different and we are still exploring. So as we learn more our volunteers get to explore alongside us.
What can people who have never been to Haiti before expect?
This is a loaded question. Many of our volunteers have returned because they felt they got a real authentic experience. They get to see the “unedited” side of Haiti. They got to socialize, eat, get involved, explore, relax, and most of all enjoy!
How important are the volunteers to this project?
Very!!! This is all about the Back To School program so the more hands we have assisting the better. When you think of 600 students, there are never enough adults to handle a project of that size. Our volunteers do the work. We have medical volunteers that do the health screening, and community volunteers, both from abroad and on the ground, that interact with the students. This program is huge. At the same time, volunteers are important because we want donors to see where there support is going. This is the best transparent way for people to see what we do. When volunteers see what and how Fleur De Vie is trying to be impactful, they don’t question our need for funding. There is a lot that still needs to be done in education and we haven’t event put a dent in the needs of our schools. We want volunteers to come so they can see how committed we are. And our board is made of mostly Haitian-Americans, so we want to share the wonderful side of Haiti as well.
If someone can’t make this trip, is there a way they can still support?
Yes, of course. Fleur De Vie is still very grassroots. If people can’t make the trip, they can always donate to the cause through our website, www.fleurdevieonline.org Often people don’t like to give monetary donations because they think the money is not going to the program. But that is not the case with Fleur De Vie. We support the local economy in Haiti. Our back pack for the students are “Made In Haiti” and we buy our school supplies in Haiti. This is a very rare. Most organizations ship these types of supplies. So when someone donates to Fleur De Vie, they are not just supporting education, they are supporting the economy.