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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.

Style Magazine Honors Danny Yates, Hinche Scholars with “Top 40 under 40”

October 19, 2011

A special thank you to Richmond’s Style Magazine for choosing to honor Hinche Scholars founder Danny Yates in this week’s annual “Top 40 Under 40” edition. We are very grateful for this special recognition and believe that it stands as a testament to the initial success of our I Have a Dream Foundation – Hinche Scholars Project.

Our hats go off to reporter Melissa Sinclair and photographer Scott Elmquist who did a great job of describing Danny Yates’ vision and how the Richmond community helped transform this dream into the reality known todays the Hinche Scholars project. See text and photo of this article (below).

Most of us don’t think about Haiti anymore.

Danny Yates never stopped trying to help.

Yates was in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, acting as an interpreter for a Richmond Catholic group. After witnessing the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Yates immediately began thinking about how he, and Richmonders, could help rebuild.

In partnership with the I Have a Dream Foundation, Richmond, Yates vowed to bring four Haitian students to the United States so they could complete their educations and then return “to make substantial change in their community.”

Such a simple goal — but the obstacles proved to be enormous. Federal standards restricted colleges’ acceptance of international students. The four students’ academic records had been destroyed. Their visas were denied. Despite the support of many Richmonders, including Rep. Eric Cantor and former Gov. Tim Kaine, a discouraged Yates almost abandoned the project.

Then in July, the visas came through. The four Haitian students started class at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College this fall. They’re still getting accustomed to American life, Yates says, from deciphering class schedules to operating a garbage disposal. Yates is searching for sponsors to help pay their tuition after May.

As for Yates, he’s not sure what he’ll do after graduating from the College of William and Mary. He’s spending the spring semester at the University of Martinique and then considering law school. He definitely wants to live here, where he grew up, he says: “Seeing Richmond through these students’ eyes has made me realize how lucky we are in Richmond. … Although some things are broken, we’ve come a long way.”

– Melissa Sinclair (Style Weekly reporter)

Style Weekly Photo of Top 40 Honoree Danny Yates (picture by Scott Elmquist)

Style Weekly Photo of Top 40 Honoree Danny Yates (picture by Scott Elmquist, taken at Maggie Walker Governor's School)

Congratulations to the 39 other 2011 Style Magazine Top 40 under 40 honorees. To access an electronic version of this story, please click here.

Thank you, and as always, please keep supporting our four displaced students from Hinche, Haiti as they continue to excel in their studies at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. Every donation goes a long way to help us maintain this project and acheive our long-term goal: developing four young people as Haiti’s future leaders.

First Day of School in Haiti, Hinche Scholars Approaching 2 Months of Studies in US

October 6, 2011

As of this week, schoolchildren across Haiti are finally back in the classroom. Due to post-quake logistical difficulties and a new presidential administration, the start date was repeatedly pushed back. New this year, many students in Haiti have qualified for free education, thanks to the efforts of President Martelly. See article –  http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-3943-haiti-education-back-to-school-a-historic-success-for-martelly-speech.html.

Haitian President Michel Martelly (who once studied in the U.S. at a community college), is pictured here at a back-to-school rally in Haiti on Monday, October 3.

Haitian President Michel Martelly (who once studied in the U.S. at a community college), is pictured here at a back-to-school rally in Haiti on Monday

This is a very encouraging sign of progress, and we at the Hinche Scholars project also have some good news to share. In just a few days, our four college students will celebrate the two month anniversary of arriving in the U.S. This is an important milestone, as these young people have spent the past eight weeks working hard both adapting to American culture and studying English.

In the same way that Haiti’s recently elected president, Michel Martelly, furthered his career by studying at a community college in the U.S., these four students from Hinche are continuing their education at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

From left to right, Hinche Scholars: Frandy, Lude, Berry, and Suze. Your donations directly help these young people as they work to complete their studies and return to Haiti.

From left to right, Hinche Scholars: Frandy, Lude, Berry, and Suze. Your donations directly help these young people as they work to complete their studies and return to Haiti.

The I Have a Dream Foundation Hinche Scholars Project believes strongly that education offers the key to development. Through our program and with your financial help, four of Haiti’s future leaders have now embarked on an educational path which will benefit both for these individuals and their fellow Haitian citizens back home.

Please help us in any way that you can, we are always in need of financial contributions to help us cover the costs of tuition, housing, food and school supplies. If you live in Richmond, please consider volunteering to help with transportation, tutoring, or field trips.

Thank you for your support!

Help IHAD and the Hinche Scholars Win $10,000

September 29, 2011

“I Have A Dream” Has A
Portrait on GiveRichmond.org

“I Have A Dream” Foundation – Richmond has joined hundreds of area nonprofit
organizations with a portrait on GiveRichmond.org, a powerful online resource
for all who desire to strengthen the Richmond region through
philanthropy.

Next week, from 6:00 a.m. Wed. Oct. 5th through
6:00 p.m. Thurs. Oct. 6th, help us to win up to $10,000 by making an online
donation to our organization through the Amazing Raise. 

Mark your calendars, and be on the lookout for a link to be emailed to you next Wed.
to make your donation.

For more information please visit www.ihaveadreamrichmond.org

And remember, that we are a 100% volunteer organization, so all of your donation goes directly to the source – feeding, housing, and educating the Hinche Scholars!

Father Bourdeau visits Richmond, Hinche Scholars attend “Manje” Gala

September 26, 2011

This weekend was a busy one for the Hinche Scholars, as they welcomed Father Bourdeau as part of his annual visit to Richmond. Pere Bourdeau was in town as part of the twinning relationship between his community in Hinche and the churches of St. Bridget and Cathedral of Sacred Heart in Richmond.

Father Golden, Danny Yates, and Frandy Prince at the 2011 "Manje" Gala

Father Golden, Danny Yates, and Hinche Scholar Frandy Prince at the 2011 "Manje" Gala

The Hinche Scholars had the chance to attend the annual “Manje” Gala, a dinner/auction fundraiser which raises money for primary school children in Carissade, Haiti. The four students from Hinche enjoyed meeting many Richmonders who care about Haiti.

Lude, Berry, and Suze enjoying themselves at the Manje Gala

Lude, Berry, and Suze enjoying themselves at the Manje Gala

On Sunday, the students attended multiple church services and helped translate for Father Bourdeau as he greeted parishoners before and after the masses.

Although they were a bit tired from the previous night's festivities, the four Hinche Scholars joined Father Bourdeau and helped to greet and translate after several masses on Sunday

Although they were a bit tired from the previous night's festivities, the four Hinche Scholars joined Father Bourdeau and helped to greet and translate after several masses.

J. Sargeant Reynolds President Welcomes the Hinche Scholars

September 19, 2011

It’s not every day that a student has the chance to meet the president of his college. But today our Hinche Scholars joined J. Sargeant Reynolds President Dr. Gary Rhodes for a welcome/meet-and-greet luncheon.

Our special thanks go out to Dr. Rhodes and all the staff at JSRCC who have worked so hard to help us with this endeavour. The Hinche Scholars Project and the I Have a Dream Foundation of Richmond are proud to be partners with such an important community institution.  For the past month, four displaced students from Haiti have been thoroughly enjoying their ESL classes at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The Hinche Scholars Meet JSRCC President (From L to R) Frandy, Lude, Dr. Gary Rhodes, Suze, Berry, and Andy Thornton
The Hinche Scholars Meet JSRCC President (From L to R) Frandy, Lude, Dr. Gary Rhodes, Suze, Berry, and Andy Thornton

As Hinche Scholar Berry Riche remarked, “…day by day we are learning more and more English. When we say ‘thank you,’ those words are not enough to express our appreciation.”

 
These four young Haitian students are off to a great start with five weeks of classes now under their belt. With your help, their educational dreams are finally becoming a reality. Please continue to support us in any way that you can. We have a long list of needs, so don’t hesitate to contact us. We are currently looking for: cold weather clothing, food/grocery donations (gift cards as well), volunteers to help with  tutoring, conversation, and transportation. We are always in need of financial support as well, so please visit our official IHAD website for donation info at www.ihaveadreamrichmond.org. Thanks so much!
 

 

After First Month in USA, Hinche Scholars Hard at Work!

September 11, 2011

Today marks one month since the arrival of the Hinche Scholars in Richmond, VA.

The past four weeks have been quite busy for these four young people from Hinche, Haiti. For the first time in nearly two years, they are back in the classroom, but this time in a very different setting – at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College here in Richmond.

Although it is still a bit to early to officially declare the “transition period” to be over, we are glad to announce that Berry, Suze, Lude and Frandy are adjusting well to their new routine, both academically and socially. As you can see from the two photos below, these four displaced Haitian college students don’t look much different from a few weeks ago, yet behind those smiling faces we can assure you that the “wheels are turning full speed.”

Nevertheless, the adjustment to American life and customs has not been without a few bumpy moments. Over the past month, the Hinche Scholars have witnessed an earthquake, a hurricane, and most recently, the 10th anniversary of 9/11. 

All of these experiences, both the overwhelming and the amusing, have proven to be great learning experiences – for these young folks and for our team here at the I Have a Dream Foundation, Richmond. Thanks to your continued support we will be able to press on with our mission of helping to education Haiti’s future leaders. Each day, with your help, we can ensure that these young men and women benefit as much as possible from their opportunity to study in the United States.

Our greatest needs include financial support, volunteer help, and in-kind donations. If you are willing to assist in any of these ways, please contact us by leaving a comment on this website. For more information on how to donate please visit www.ihaveadreamrichmond.org. Remember that all contributions are tax deductible, and since our project is 100% volunteer operated, all of our funding goes directly to the source!

In terms of physical donations, we are still looking for bicycles, computers, clothing, food/Wal-Mart gift cards, and anything else you can think of !

Thank you again and check back soon for more updates.