Name: Laure-Naїveka Charles
Big Goal: Graduate from a linguistics program and become an international translator
Big Obstacle: Tuition fees
What Laure-Naїveka Needs: Tuition support to complete her studies; greater access to technology
Laure-Naїveka lives in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, with her uncle and his family, far from her own large family. She misses her two brothers and two sisters, yet she’s deeply grateful to her uncle and his wife for accepting her as one of their own so that she can study.
Currently in her third year in a linguistics program, Laure-Naїveka speaks five languages: Creole, her Mother’s native tongue, French, Haiti’s official language, as well as English, Spanish and Portuguese. When she graduates, she plans to become a translator. With global opportunities in this field, technology can enable her to compete in an international market and earn a much better living than is available to most Haitians.
When Laure-Naїveka graduated high school, she naturally assumed that she would follow in the footsteps of her two older brothers and attend a private university. However, falling third in line for the family’s meagre discretionary fund allotment for education, Laure-Naїveka suddenly found herself unable to attend a privately-funded university – her parents simply could not afford the education fees for another child.
Let’s give that some perspective. Haiti’s legal minimum wage is currently $4.00/day, but with unemployment statistics of 60% and low literacy levels, many people earn much less than that, working for whatever they can get to support their families. Plus, with university fees in the country running between $2,000 – $3,000 per annum, young Haitian women’s opportunities for a brighter future are dim.
A light at the end of the tunnel?
Laure-Naїveka learned that a qualifying exam could gain her access to a public university, the Institute of African Studies – but the competition would be tough, with only 100 of 2,000 applying students being eligible for acceptance. She embarked on a mission to be one of the accepted students, studying late into the nights and waking at 4 a.m. daily to study again.
Sadly, Laure-Naїveka did not make the grade, and the failure was devastating. Her tenacity won the day, though, and she later achieved access to the university, where she studies languages today. Says Laure-Naїveka, “Had I given up when I was rejected, I would never be in my third year of linguistics, where I’ve had the pleasure of so many human interactions.”
And that temporary setback helped shape the grateful and giving person she has become today.
A naturally joyful and honest young woman, Laure-Naїveka is a self-professed leader who loves computer science and volunteering. Her future plans include conducting leadership training for other young women and helping to steer them towards technology programs that will help them succeed.
Access to technology – one of things we take for granted in our modern, wired world – is a much-coveted luxury in Haiti. While we usually reserve the word “luxury” for things we love but don’t truly need, the luxury of access to technology is sorely needed for Haiti’s young women, like Laure-Naїveka. Technology is their roadmap to education, communication and better jobs. It’s the ladder out of the poverty that pervades their lives today.