This is not your parent’s organization. Many Haitian parents of millennials — those in their 30s — support their home country by sending remittances or money to home town organizations, but their offspring, have other connections to their heritage.
The new organization, Haiti Global Village (HGV) has attracted these Haitian-Americans, most educated in this country yet feeling deeply connected to their roots and homeland.
Chef and cookbook author Nadege Fleurimond and graphic artist Gracie Xavier started the organization to create a space to get engaged in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Matthew. The status quo of responses of Haiti support was so ineffectual.
Fleurimond describes how people wanted to respond and didn’t know how or to whom. (And, they obviously didn’t want to repeat the missteps of donations after the 2010 earthquake when it was not clear where the money went.)
“The goal isn’t Haiti relief,” says Fleurimond. “It’s long term sustainable development.”
Attracting Haitians, Haitian-Americans and friends of Haiti, HGV aims not for a one-time response, but to create a movement around Haiti . Fifteen young Haitian-Americans have formed the volunteer core of the organization.
On Sunday at the Juan Carlos Center at NYU, a meet-and-greet holiday fundraiser for Haiti Global Village attracted a mix of supporters and new people who came to find out how they could get involved.
Queens-born actress Vicky Jeudy who plays Janae Watson in Orange is the New Black was on hand, lending her support and also promoting her efforts to use social media to project positive messages about Haiti.
Guests at the Sunday event stepped into a side room where in front of Patrick Ulysse’s video camera they expressed their feelings toward Haiti in short videos. These comments will also find their way into a promo video for the HGV project.
“Ours is a call to make things happen,” said Fleurimond. “Let’s stop hoping. Let’s come together and build something. There is a cache of talent in the Haitian Diaspora — we’re building a database of monetary human capital.”
Last month, through a series of fundraising events — a poetry reading, a potluck dinner, a marketplace, a dance class, a dance party, and a book club gathering, HGV raised $10,000. Fleurimond explained that HGV wants to amass a significant amount of money in order to have a substantial affect. HGV is also identifying organizations already on the ground doing important work that they can partner with.
“We’ll do one project at a time,” Fleurimond said, mentioning that a water and irrigation system was at the top of their priorities. As they work on their non profit status, soon a financial conduit will temporarily provide the tax exempt status so that donations will be tax deductable.
Haitian food fueled those present who also danced to DJ El at the holiday party.
On board early on, educator Wynnie Lamour and Yzeline Vincent organized the Sunday event.