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School Construction Showing Great Progress

One of our primary projects in Haiti this summer is constructing the school building you see below.  When completed it will have 6 classrooms and serve over 150 students.

This project was largely funded by the students of Gayman Elementary School and Penn State University.  Both institutions raised thousands to put towards the cost of raw materials and wages for Haitians hired to help with construction.

Dozens of American volunteers traveled to Haiti to help the employed Haitians in the building of this school.  Whether laying foundation, hammering, or painting, Poverty Resolutions is so grateful to everyone who worked to make this project a reality.

It’s almost finished! We cannot wait for this structure to become 6 functional classrooms this fall.  Be sure to look out for photos of the finished school and the children who will soon be enjoying it!

It's Easy Being Green: Solar Charging Stations in Haiti

by Laura Ross

I’m just going to come out and say it: in the United States, going green is sexy. From toting a reusable shopping bag to building new construction according to various green standards, everyone and their barber wants to “be green”. Consumers view it as fashionable; businesses view it as a new way to gain a competitive edge.

In Haiti, it might be the only competitive edge.

I remember how astonished I was, walking along the streets of Cite Soleil, past the tent villages and resounding poverty that crowd the region, to learn that Poverty Resolutions was going to install solar charging stations in some of the communities. Solar charging stations. Maybe I’m just a product of my generation, but the concept of solar energy still seems so high tech and new millennial. It boggled my mind that such a sophisticated project was being installed in Haiti—a technology we’re still trying to install across the United States.

It struck me as rather significant that two countries as vastly different as the United States and Haiti—one a nation that has been fighting to ensure universal health care for its citizens, and the other a nation that struggles to provide health care to any of its citizens—could find themselves so close on a single issue. Yes, the scales and methods of implementation differ, but the fact remains: both countries view solar energy as important, perhaps even critical.

This got me thinking: why don’t we emphasize this concept further? In international development, why don’t we play off of the fact that green energy is a technology that helps all sides—the developing and the developed. By promoting projects—such as the one Poverty Resolutions is leading in Haiti—that focus on developing new ways to integrate green technology into sustainable aid solutions, we can foster relationships between companies in the US and citizens in developing nations. Businesses that have had success in “greening” their industry, and found innovations that can cut costs or improve efficiencies, can work with entrepreneurs in Haiti to find similar, albeit probably less complex, methods to improve their businesses.

And it wouldn’t have to be a one-way relationship. Haiti might not have a high-tech sector like the US (or much of a tech sector at all, for that matter), but Haitians do have plenty of ingenuity. Poverty Resolutions has contacts with tons of individuals who have found incredibly resourceful ways to go green—from creating a toilet that turns waste product into fertilizer, to incentivizing citizens to recycle scrap metal. The innovations Haitians and Americans could create, working hand-in-hand to improve both of their businesses, could truly revolutionize aspects of green business.

Realizing that we share this point of commonality with Haiti—and much of the developing world in general—could go a long way in identifying creative and sustainable aid solutions to replace many of the outdated methods that have failed to generate meaningful change in communities. And although our friend Kermit might disagree, by working together, we might just find that it is easy being green.

The Simple Joy of Shade

Last month we built a covering so these woman at House of Hope orphanage could escape from the grueling sun while doing laundry all day. Today it is 96°F in Port-au-Prince and feels like 103°F.

Even small projects like this make a difference. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”

Meet our staff- Sean

After graduating from Penn State in 2009, I spent two years serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. I lived and worked in Kolomyya in western Ukraine, where I taught English to students in 5th through 11th grade.  The picture below is of me and a few of my students.

When I returned to State College in January, I was hoping to find something to do that matched my career interests. I wasn’t optimistic.

I was surprised and pleased to find Poverty Resolutions. You don’t expect a nonprofit doing international development work to be located in the middle of Central Pennsylvania.

I was introduced to Matt Jones through a good friend, who had interned with Poverty Resolutions the previous summer. I spent the spring semester volunteering as much time as possible and taking on whatever tasks I could.

This summer, I’m excited to join Poverty Resolutions full-time – and join Matt and Andrew in moving the organization to the Philadelphia area.

Personally, I want to work to ensure that all people have access to those things necessary to meet their most basic needs: food, clean water, shelter, health care, education, and individual self-determination.

In a year, I plan to go back to graduate school to study International Development.

The Beginning Stages of Building a Tilapia Farm in Haiti- An intern's perspective

by Sarah Levenson

My passion for developmental economics was first sparked by professor Bee Roberts and her Econ 471 Growth and development class. It was there that I met Mary Liz who introduced me to Poverty Resolutions and their mission. I was immediately intrigued and a few short weeks later I was interviewing with Matt (my awesome boss and co founder of Poverty Resolutions). When I finally got the call that I was officially an intern, my sister had to tell me to calm down incase I hurt myself. I was so excited to spend my senior year at Penn State working to help the people of Haiti.

All the options were exciting; each one posed a challenge and offered a way to help the people of Haiti. As a Marketing and Economics major, the option to set up and run a store selling Haitian made goods (all profits going to Haiti) seemed like the natural choice. Or perhaps I could get involved in the micro-financing initiative? But no. For some odd reason I had fish on the brain. All I could think about was the Tilapia project that Matt had mentioned.

“Our goal” said Matt “is to build a sustainable Tilapia Fish Farm for the House of Hope Orphanage in Haiti!” We wanted to build a system that would not only provide the children of House of Hope with a reliable source of protein to supplement their diets, but that would also be efficient enough to generate income for the orphanage through the selling of fish.

This was so exciting! I was pumped! I had so many ideas! I had so many plans! I had absolutely no clue where to start! (Seriously. I think I may have owned a goldfish for 3 days in elementary school, but that was just about all the fish experience I had had. )

Phase one of this exciting endeavor involved checking out every book about Tilapia and fish farming that the library had to offer. About a month and a half later I finally knew enough to get started, and this is where the fun began.