On January 12, 2010 a 7.3 magnitude earthquake ravaged Haiti. The effects were devastating. Twenty percent of the nation’s population were affected. More than 100.000 homes were destroyed and more than 230.000 people were killed. After the earthquake David Pierre-Louis, an Impact Hub member and a Haitian-American entrepreneur, went back to find his mother. Seeing the ruins and witnessing the damage that had been done, he decided to do something.
With the help from friends, acquaintances and family, he launched a campaign to help the Haitian community rebuild their homes and start their lives again. He made a documentary of this journey, entitled ‘Kenbe Fem’, which means ‘to hold firm’ in Haitian Creole. With it, he demonstrates the goal he has to strengthen the country from within. On December 20, the Impact Hub Geneva hosted a movie screening and fundraising event to help support David and his ideas of rebuilding the area where his mother still lives. Eventually, he has the goal to create a new Impact Hub in Haiti.
“We want to give local people the tools to make their country become a self-sustained nation instead of an impoverished one that relies on help from international organizations.”
Kenbe Fem is a beautiful documentary that begins in 2010. After visiting Haiti and the ruins of the earthquake, it felt wrong for David to go back to his home in Seattle without doing anything. So he made a plan. It started with a local fundraising in his Seattle neighbourhood and ended with this idea to build a community resource centre by and for the local people. David demonstrates with his actions how small gestures can have huge effects. By installing clean water supply systems in his mother’s house, buying food from local people and working together with the local community, he is helping in a practical manner. But along his way, you slowly start to see and feel a gap between the international organisations and the local communities. There is confusion amongst people, the aid is slow and there is a general lack of overview concerning logistics. On the other hand, a growing support from the people born in Haiti and now living abroad (Haitian Diaspora) becomes visible.
The power of an Impact Hub
Exactly these personal experiences inspired David to think about filling in this gap by stimulating social entrepreneurial opportunities. What if local people had the capital, network and resources to build on their own ideas? How much impact on their community could they achieve?
Inspired by local partners and the Impact Hub in Seattle, David took his ideas last year to a next level and is now planning to open his own Hub in Haiti. The first project will be the reconstruction of his mothers house, where he will open Kay Tita, or Tita’s House, in January 2018. By building this house, David aims to further empower the impoverished community by giving them the necessary tools to build on a self-sustained nation. We hope that Kay Tita will be a thriving community resource centre by the end of next year.
If you also believe in the power of local impact and if you want to help support the people of Haiti to build on their own future, have a look at the website David launched to see how you can help!