Name: Clarisse A.
Big Goal: Study economics and help to change Haiti’s economic status
Big Obstacle: Tuition fees
What Clarisse Needs: Tuition support to complete her studies; access to technology

In Clarisse’s family, funding education is a challenge, particularly as her father is the household’s only bread-winner. Add to that the family’s philosophy, which prioritizes educating her younger brother first, and it means that Clarisse’s hopes and dreams for the future may be passed over in favour of her brother’s goals.

Due to their economic status, it’s not uncommon for Haitian parents to be forced to choose which of their children to educate. Haiti’s legal minimum wage is currently $4.00/day, meagre at best. Add to that the massive rate of unemployment (approx. 60%), coupled with low literacy levels, and it’s easy to understand why people will take any job, regardless of how little it pays, in their endeavours to support their families. Plus, with Haiti’s university fees estimated at $2,000 – $3,000 per annum, many Haitians simply can’t make the financial model for education work for all their children.

Knowledge is Power (Francis Bacon; 1561-1626)

At 19, Clarisse has already shown great promise, successfully completing high school and passing the state exam in economics, She also attained an English language scholarship, which enabled her to study technology and learn the features of Microsoft Office Suite. This exposure to technology also afforded Clarisse a higher level of connectedness with the outside world, which allows her to learn about life in other countries and feeds her hunger for knowledge.

Despite financial hardship, Clarisse remains optimistic and tenacious. She believes that “achieving your dream might be very difficult, but if you really want it, it won’t be impossible to realize it.”

Driven by her sense of patriotism and a burning desire to improve economic conditions in her country, she holds on to her ultimate goal of studying economics. But these programs are only available in private universities, widening the gap between Clarisse, her education and the differences she can make in Haiti’s future – as well as her own.

Already having had some exposure to technology, Clarisse recognizes that her navigation system out of poverty isn’t just dependent on money – it’s also dependent on technology, and access to it.

Says Clarisse, “technology brings us together globally and makes the world a village. It changes business strategy and enables us to compete in a global market, serving customers internationally. I intend to use technology to do my part for Haiti and the world.”

by Aileen Provan