Last week, 185 young people graduated from a 10-month vocational training program in Cité Soleil, Haiti. The program was a joint project of PADF, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Haitian National Ministry of Education and Professional Training (MENFP). Professors from the National Institute of Professional Training (INFP) provided students with training in several fields including cosmetology, pastry, ironworks, masonry and mechanics. The goal was to offer at-risk youth and women in vulnerable situations a way into the labor market so that they can contribute to the local community.
"This training in cooking and pastry was like a rebirth to me,” says 24-year-old François Marie Georgénie of Cité Soleil. “I'm proud to graduate after many sacrifices. I'm ready for the labor market."
The ceremony took place at the Municipal Palace of Delmas and was attended by numerous local officials including Haiti's Minister of Education, the Minister for Women, the State Secretary for Vocational Training, the Ambassador of Haiti to the Dominican Republic, the Mayor of Cité Soleil and representatives from MINUSTAH. All congratulated the graduates for their hard work and for being agents of change in the community.
"The message was a clear and strong symbol for the town, which has been ravaged in recent days by rivalry between gangs,” said Nadia Cherrouk, country director for PADF Haiti.
Haiti’s Minister of National Education, M. Nesmy Manigat, said that hardworking students are the key to the city's future. "These young people are already professionals and are now able to take their destiny instead of engaging in acts of banditry," he said at the ceremony. “Cité Soleil is not about gangs but people with a trade and diploma.”
"It is with a sense of excitement and pride that we presented to recipients their certificates," Cherrouk added. “They put their hearts into it and showed serious commitment throughout this training."