How Return 2 Haiti’s Mission Was Formed
In 2011 the idea for Return2Haiti began to take shape in the minds and hearts of founders Pierre and Cynthia Balthazar. The idea grew as the local government agreed to take over the financial responsibility for the school in Pichon created in 2000 by a nonprofit called Education for Prosperity (EFP) originally established by co-founders Pierre Balthazar and David Smith.
For nearly 13 years the work in Haiti, through the former nonprofit, was primarily about educating children. The education emphasis was the result of a very emphatic request made by the parents of children living near Pichon. The school EFP built grew and flourished through the generosity and support of many friends and family in the USA, Canada and Europe.
However, over time, it became clear that the success of the school had an unintended consequence. As young people gained education and skills, many chose to leave their home in Haiti for greater opportunity elsewhere, depriving the country of one of its most critical resources – an educated future generation of leaders. It was then that the Balthazar’s knew that their work was not done in Haiti but needed to change to a more sustainable model.
The work of Return2Haiti is centered in the rural area of Southeast Haiti where the needs are great and most urgent. For success to be realized the programs of Return2Haiti are in three areas of focus. For a program to be considered it must be sustainable (returning resources back to Haiti) and must be embraced and endorsed by local Haitians. Those areas of focus are health, education and environment.
The first program of Return2Haiti is a health-related partnership with Homeopaths Without Borders. The program meets the health needs of the target area by training and deploying 30 new homeopathic practitioners drawn from interested residents of the villages and townships in the Belle Anse district. The district is composed of 13 townships, with at least 2 participants from each.
Educating local practitioners addresses the health needs of the local population, educates Haitian adults, and returns revenue back to the local economy by empowering the practitioners to provide services for fees. This inaugural program meets the Return2Haiti sustainability standard. The first class of health practitioners celebrated their graduation in August of 2013 after a full year of training. There will be ongoing needs for added training and a facility from which to launch other Return2Haiti programs and initiatives.