Young people from some of the most vulnerable and violent gang-controlled neighbourhoods of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince have been talking about the power of getting together to share experiences and engage in sporting and entrepreneurial activities.
Some 1500 young people got together at the Semans Lapè (Seeds of Peace) project event supported by the UN Peacebuilding Fund.
UN Haiti/Jonathan Boulet-Groulx Craft products, including earrings, are exhibited at a youth event in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Rosemonde* (23 years old)
“I live in Cite Soleil which is under the control of gangs. There is only one road out of my neighbourhood, and it is often flooded or full of trash, so it’s difficult to participate in outside activities.
My mother is not at home right now and I am the eldest of six children, so I do what I can to take care of my family. I’m not comfortable where I live.
“I make crafts, like earrings. When I join activities at these big gatherings, I can talk to people, I can live and act normally. I come here to enjoy life.
I wish my neighbourhood was like this, I wish it was peaceful.”
UN Haiti/Jonathan Boulet-Groulx Young entrepreneurs display their products at a youth event in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
“I am an entrepreneur. I produce jam and peanut butter and other products at my home in Saint Martin. I learnt this on a training course. I would like to sell from local shops, but to do that I need more investment. So, for now I’m selling from my house.
Young people in Haiti want to move forward but it’s difficult to get help, especially when there is no functioning social support system
Young people are very stressed, so I think it’s good to bring them together for activities like this, as it can help them to see that they are not so different from people living in different neighbourhoods.
The situation has been deteriorating for several months, but despite that I think I can inspire other young people to progress. I believe in myself a lot. I am a leader for my family.”
Young people including my three sisters who have finished school, spend most of their time sitting at home with nothing to do. These activities, which include training courses, are important as they help us to move forward. Of course, it is good to spend time with other youth.
I love playing sports. Even when I was little, I was strong and competitive and that encourages me still today to do my best.
My dream for other young people is for them to see their lives the same way I see my life. This means that they focus more on their work, on what they need to learn. I always encourage them to try hard.
One of my dreams is that, when I finish school, I want to travel, to discover other countries, but now it is not possible.”
UN Haiti/Jonathan Boulet-Groulx Joseph, is one of 1500 young women and men who participated in the event in Port-au-Prince
“Life in Haiti is very difficult now, because of insecurity, political instability and the crisis due to the lack of petrol. According to my grandfather, life was not like this before. It is becoming more difficult year after year.
An activity like this is very important, as it helps youth to socialize and see their true value. The country needs more recreational activities.
The Semans Lapè project provided me with training and now I am an entrepreneur. I am also a student. I was already selling chocolate before the project, but now I have taken my business to a new level and the products are more beautiful and better presented. My business is called Happy Choco. I see myself as an entrepreneur and so school is important to me.
UN Haiti/Jonathan Boulet-Groulx Dancers perform at a youth event in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
“The situation at home in Cite Lumière is so difficult. There is violence obviously, but also, when it rains the flooding is very bad. Life was never easy, but it has never been this bad. It’s difficult for my friends to visit me.
Many people judge us because we come from this part of the city. Everyone can have a good life. Most of the people who are subjected to violence are innocent.
This activity allows us to have small talk, to get news. It is really important. I love dancing and our neighbourhood put on a show here. I think that it would be better if these activities could take place more often.
My dream is to go to university to become an accountant and continue to dance at a professional level. But it’s hard and we don’t have the means to continue with our schooling. This is the problem we can say that most young people here have. Many of us have talent and intelligence, but we cannot exploit it to our advantage.
Today’s activity can change everyone’s attitude about young people who come from disadvantaged neighborhoods.”
* All names have been changed to protect the identities of individuals. FACT BOX:
The Semans Lapè project is financed by the UN Peacebuilding Fund and implemented by Concern Worldwide, in collaboration with national NGOs Lakou Lapè and Sakala.
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