Today's musings continue on the subject of the amazing people working here in Haiti and who have come the way of the FHM guesthouse. I'm pleased to tell you a little about our new friend Jolinda.
This woman is most self-effacing, so I had to work some to get her story, but it was worth probing. I bet you can tell from her smile that she is delightful. Her eyes are almost always sparkling, especially when she's working hard on a difficult challenge.
Originally planning on a life in academia, she was inspired by Australian Ethicist Peter Singer to become a social activist.
(Jolinda recommends Singer's 2009 book, The Life You Can Save. In this book, Singer challenges us. Of course we would ruin a good pair of shoes to help a child we saw drowning in a shallow pond. Why won't we help a child we can't see, in another part of the world?)
After finishing her MA in religious studies, Jolinda began her career in the nonprofit world, even hanging out a bit with Barack Obama, back when he was a state senator. She served in Thailand and Indonesia before coming to Haiti.
Arriving in November with the same organization she worked for in Indonesia, Jolinda was only going to stay in Leogane a few weeks. Then she had an "aha" moment on New Year's Eve, 2010-2011.
Sitting with some Haitian young people who could have been out partying, she was enjoying spending time with these "local volunteers." Suddenly, with no warning, the three young men sitting next to her began wailing loudly. They were lamenting the many sad times of the last year.
Jolinda knew at that moment that she wanted to spend time working with this "awesome generation" of 18 to 24 year olds. She began learning Kreyol and has been in Haiti ever since.
Today Jolinda supports herself writing vegetarian cookbooks. Most recently she has been working with GOALS Haiti here in Leogane. GOALS is a soccer program that promotes gender equality, youth leadership, and community-led initiatives.
Now who's awesome?