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Reflection on the Hinche Scholars Project by Berry Riche

October 28, 2011

Hinche Scholar Berry Riche recently reflected on his experience as a participate in our project. The essay below, written entirely by Berry, is a true testament to the mission of our effort and the need for continued support. A portion of this essay will appear in a Richmond Times-Dispatch article later this month.

My name is Berry RICHE, I am 27 years old. I belong to a six children family and I am the oldest, I was born and raised in Hinche, the central county of Haiti. I was graduated from High School. in 2005.

Moreover, two years later I attended Pilot Professional training Center
in Port-au-Prince  where I studied Computerized Accounting for an Associate Degree .In 2010  I would have been a sophomore in accounting, had it not been because of the earthquake that rocked Haiti, especially Port-au-Prince.

 At 4:53 PM on January 12, 2010, a 7.3 magnitude  earthquake  shook  Haiti, my country. The epicenter of the earthquake was only 10 miles from Port-au-Prince from a county called Leogane located in the East of that city. Portau Prince is the bustling capital city of my Caribbean country.   

Hinche Scholar Berry Riche (with fingers crossed in shape of "H" for Haiti) on his first day of classes at J. Sarge.

Hinche Scholar Berry Riche (with fingers crossed in shape of "H" for Haiti) on his first day of classes at J. Sarge

One of the most destructive natural disasters in history of Haiti, the quake reduced buildings, universities, hospitals, private businesses, high schools, houses, super markets, hotels, police stations, and even jails to rubble, instantly taking lives and destroying almost everything. The Government of Haiti estimates that nearly 230,000 people died, 300,000 were injured, and over 1.5 million were displaced after their homes ere damaged or destroyed. Nowadays, our public parks, our stadiums, and our streets have become hobo jungles.

 The massive homelessness and displacement continues and does not appear to have significantly abated. Government agencies were also hard hit, even the National Palace was collapsed. Two days afterwards, thousands of U.S. troops arrived to aid in the earthquake relief effort and relief agencies are playing a large role in rebuilding Haiti’s infrastructure, while taking care of the short-term emergency needs, also the international community (Spain, France, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina even the Dominican Republic) provided emergency help to many injured and displaced Haitians.

My country is facing an economic crisis where poverty is banging on the gates of all families in Haiti, especially in my hometown of Hinche. Furthermore, for those who don’t know Haiti ,it is a country where less than 30 % of the population can write and read, less than 20% of the people can get a job to survive with their family,  and a country where less than 5 % of the  oung people who graduated from high school can attend universities. 

I think you can see how this nation can’t develop itself. Thus, I believe that only higher education can help save Haiti from poverty. 

For me, the process of coming to the USA was quite difficult. When I was selected to be a scholarship recipient into Hinche Scholars Program, I was extremely happy because after the earthquake I did not know how my future would be. When the scholars were accepted at J Sargeant Reynolds Community College to come to school, our first visa request was
rejected by a US consulate officer in the US Embassy in Haiti. Then, we reapplied  and ten days later the visas were granted. On August 11th, 2011 we landed in Virginia.  

My education is so important because it is the only tool I have in hand to prepare my future and participate in the development of my country. My dreams/ my future plans are to have a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and to come back to Haiti to help my country.

There was an American revolutionary man called Henry David Thoreau who one day said, “Men are born to succeed not fail.” Furthermore, British historian Tristam Hunt said “America is the land or extraordinary opportunities and possibilities, a land where miracles happen.”

If there is anyone who reads this article, who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible. You have to chase away all of your doubts, because I didn’t think a young man like Danny C. Yates could undertake a big initiative like Hinche Scholars Program and make it become a reality, but he did!

As one of the scholarship recipients, my mouth is not enough to thank especially Mr. Danny C.
Yates as well as the president of I Have A Dream Foundation, Mr. Kenneth Henshaw and His
wife Gail Henshaw and all of the Richmonders who have made this happen.

To all of our special sponsors, I would like you know by creating and supporting Hinche Scholars Program you give a spiritual face to it. Like Jesus our identity is not found in what we do for ourselves, it is found in what we do for others. As He said Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25
verses 35 – 40.

“For I was hungry and you give me something to eat. I ws thirsty and you gave me something to drink.  I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

I would like to thank everyone who supported Danny and the I Have A Dream Foundation in helping them to accomplish the first step of the Hinche Scholars project. They have brought four displaced Haitian Students to attend college in Virginia at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. As a scholarship recipient I would like you know that we still need your help to achieve our goal to come back in Haiti with a degree and to give our participation in moving this poor country forward.

In conclusion, your help will be your contribution in rebuilding Haiti throughout our education. Your support will be like a seed you plant here in Virginia, which we will transplant back to Haiti, where it will grow, blossom, and bear fruit to feed and transform many lives. Thank you and God Bless.

Berry Riche (right) with his dad (left) and mom (center) pictured here in front of their modest home in Hinche.

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