Not Optimal for Now – But Not Too Bad Either

Haiti to Egypt, Norway, Sudan, Darfur, Turkey, Uganda and back to Haiti again is a well-beaten path for Jean Godenson Antoine, a 2000 graduate of Louverture Cleary School (LCS), a Catholic tuition-free secondary boarding school just outside of Port-au-Prince owned and operated by The Haitian Project (THP). Antoine is currently an expat UN worker thousands of miles from home, but he looks forward to bringing what he has learned back home to Haiti, soon. 

Antoine began working for the United Nations in 2007, three years after graduating from Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haiti (The Haitian State University). After serving with the UN for four years in Haiti, Antoine’s work has taken him all over the world. Antoine currently works as a property and inventory manager for all of the UN’s property in Darfur. Unlike many educated young Haitian’s, Antoine does not view his work with the UN as an opportunity to get out of Haiti, but rather as a roundabout path back to his home. 

As an LCS student, Antoine learned not only the value of hard work and the importance of social responsibility, but how to direct those ideals toward real development for himself and his country. “LCS taught me to be practical in my plans, to have a goal and work towards it from the bottom up. It is a step by step process to change your life and you need to be willing to work hard,” said Antoine.

The reality of Haiti’s current economy is that there are very few well-paying jobs and a lot of people who want them. Haitians simply see more opportunities abroad than at home. This brain drain has taken away Haiti’s greatest capital, its educated citizens.

Antoine is acutely aware of the problems that his country faces and wants to be part of the solution. “I want to make a difference, and I want to make a difference in Haiti,” said Antoine intently. During his training in Norway, and while living in Sudan, Antoine witnessed the potential of a united nation. He also saw the dangers of failing to put one’s resources to good use. “Before the 1960’s, Norway was struggling, but they found a way to use their natural resources, oil and natural gas, to help their country grow. In Sudan, they have so many natural resources but they will not stop fighting,” Antoine points out. “I want to bring what I have learned, the mistakes and the successes, and help Haiti use all of its resources. We are a great people. History shows that when we unite, we are capable of great things,” said Antoine, hope and excitement rising in his voice. Antoine plans to take all that he has learned working abroad apply it to his own community. 

During the course of his travels, Antoine's roots remain in the LCS community. “I am what I am today because of LCS,” he said proudly. When he is not in Darfur, Antoine makes the three-day journey back to Haiti to see his wife and child who live in the home he built in Santo, just fifty yards from the front gates of LCS. “Just look around,” said Antoine throwing his hands in the air. “Look at what LCS has done for this community.” Antoine believes that Haiti can change, that it can overcome all of its difficulties and rise.  And he wants to be a part of it.  Every time Antoine comes home to Haiti, he makes calls, works his contacts and does everything that he can to find work in Haiti.

President of THP, Deacon Patrick Moynihan is confident that with some help Antoine will be able to find work in Haiti. “Having Antoine outside of the country is not optimal but it is understandable. I am confident that Haiti remains his focus and where he will put in his best work in the future,” said Moynihan. With the help of THP’s Office of External Affairs, Antoine hopes to land a job that will allow him to, in his words, “be involved in the community and give back what I received, what I learned from my mentors.”

Antoine looks forward to the day when he can live with his family in the home he built in Santo, and work permanently in Haiti. But, for now he will continue to travel, to make the long flights from Darfur to Haiti and back, because he has a goal: to be a part of the solution for Haiti.

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The Haitian Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that runs a tuition free Catholic boarding school in Haiti for 360 students in order to nurture the future leaders of the country.  Visit their website for more information or donate now.