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Frank Schott, Global Program Director, NetHope
One year later, another chance to reflect upon the international humanitarian response to the earthquake’s devastation in Haiti. There are many stories to tell; some that are filled with inspiration and courage and others that are filled with disappointment and failure. Though there will undoubtedly be a great deal of focus on the latter this week, I’d like to share at least one story of hope and promise in Haiti.
This story begins with a young man named Jude Antenor. On January 12, 2010, Jude’s life was rocked by the destructive earthquake that racked his city. Jude was lucky to be in a building that did not collapse, but his cousin had her leg severed. He also lost many friends and some of his teachers from his school, Ecole Superior Informatique d'Haiti (ESIH). Prior to the earthquake, Jude had distinguished himself as a bright computer science student at ESIH but struggled to find his first job in the IT field due to a lack of work experience.
As Jude struggled to find full-time employment, in other parts of Port-au-Prince and surrounding regions, it was becoming very clear to NGOs that there was also a significant lack of qualified IT professionals in the country. The IT shortage had been a problem prior to the earthquake and was only exacerbated after the devastating quake. To address this problem, NetHope – a collaboration of 32 NGOs working in more than 150 countries – launched the NetHope Academy training initiative in September in partnership with Haitian organizations, other humanitarian groups and large tech companies including Microsoft, Cisco, Accenture and Voila.
The NetHope Academy provides IT skills training and on the job work experience to unemployed Haitians, like Jude, to build in-country technical expertise. NetHope Academy interns spend three weeks in intensive boot camp-style classroom trainings, and then they’re placed within IT teams of NGOs working to rebuild devastated areas of Haiti.
Back to Jude, who heard about the NetHope Academy last summer. After competing against 300 applicants for 36 coveted spots, Jude earned a spot in the program. He was assigned as a part time intern to CHF International, one of the largest humanitarian organizations in Haiti and a NetHope member. Jude’s first weeks on the job were good for Jude and even better for CHF. Jude worked hard, often staying several hours past the time that his part time shift was supposed to conclude. That hard work paid off when CHF International asked Jude to move to a full-time position where he will be paid for the long hours he is putting in.
Jude is only one story. The NetHope Academy has 36 interns working at 14 large NGOs, with a goal of providing full-time employment for every intern upon completion of the program in March. Thanks to great partners like Microsoft and other organizations, Jude and others like him are getting a chance.
Frank has spent almost 25 years in the technology sector. Since 2005, Frank has served as a NetHope Global Program Director in charge of the Field Capacity Building and Emergency Response initiatives. During his time with NetHope, Frank has worked closely with member agencies, corporate partners and NetHope staff to design, develop and deliver ICT related programs which are shared by the humanitarian sector.