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Building business opportunties

Plan International Haiti is committed to ensuring that all adolescents and young people under 24 years of age have access to services and opportunities essential for their socio-economic empowerment, including life skills and knowledge about sexual and reproductive health, in an environment that is free of violence and discrimination

Haiti currently offers little opportunity for the financial inclusion of youth and the poorest families, especially in rural areas. To help address this situation, we are supporting initiatives and strategies that promote the participation of excluded groups, such as youth, women and population living in rural areas.

This project has rebuilt us, it makes us realise who we really are and what we are capable of. To me, it took us from a state of vulnerability to a state of independence.

With a bright smile, Eva, 27, warmly welcomes us into her sewing workshop in Jacmel, Haiti. Like many others in Jacmel, Eva’s life was thrown into disarray after a 7.0 earthquake devastated much of Haiti on January 12, 2010.

The young woman lost many of her friends and relatives. “The 2010 earthquake had a great impact on me,” she says. “My house was destroyed and I had to live in a tent with my husband, son and relatives. We had nowhere to go.” Through her friend Nehemie Cesar, Eva heard about Plan International Haiti’s work in local youth clubs, and was given an opportunity to rebuild her life. The youth clubs were looking for 40 young women interested in learning livelihood skills such as sewing, gardening and farming.

The club, which is part of our ‘Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescent Girls and Young Women Project’, aims to create confidence, a sense of self-worth and improve the quality of life for girls and young women. “When I heard about the project, I thought it was great and something that was needed in our community,” says Eva. “For me, it felt as though God himself was coming down to us. This project has rebuilt us, it makes us realise who we really are and what we are capable of. To me, it took us from a state of vulnerability to a state of independence.”

The project involved learning how to garden – now Eva’s favourite pastime. Through the project, Eva has also learnt about other issues including drugs, and gender-based violence. As a result, she and the others on the project are able to share what they have learnt with other women in the community. “Thanks to this project, we now have a purpose in life,” she says. “It shows us that we are capable of being independent and finding ways to make money.”