The Association of Haitians Living Abroad for Development (AHVED) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit network of Haitians, Haitian-Americans, Haitian émigrés, community organizers and their supporters. Founded in 2007 by a group of concerned Haitian-American professionals with the unified mission to empower all Haitians at home and abroad, embrace Haitian youth and help Haitian immigrants in the United States successfully integrate into American society by promoting education, positive activities for the youth, patriotism and social responsibility.
AHVED aims to connect the Haitian Diaspora and inspire those that can support others still struggling. AHVED looks to engage Haitian living abroad in the development of communities back home through well-managed projects.
AHVED IN HAITI:
Since 2007, AHVED has raised money to provide scholarships, uniforms, books and materials plus lunch for over 250 primary school children to attend school each year in St. Marc, Haiti and surrounding villages. They also provide support to the teachers and school administrators, including teacher training opportunities. In 2009, AHVED constructed a simple schoolhouse in a remote village to spare some of the younger children the 5km walk each way to school and staffed the schoolhouse. Through primarily private contributions, AHVED continues to support nearly 300 elementary school children every year.
On January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered a 7.0 magnitude earthquake affecting over three million people. The Haitian government estimated at least 300,000 people were killed and another 150,000 experienced a traumatic or surgical amputation . AHVED was one of the first Haitian organizations abroad to respond, with the AHVED Medical Relief Team making its first trip to Haiti on January 21st 2010 with 30 doctors, nurses and other health care professionals and thousands of pounds of medical equipment and supplies, much of it donated by Palm Beach County hospitals. They opened a full-scale surgical unit in Petite Riviere L’Arbonite, 65 miles from Port-Au-Prince, performing approximately 15 major surgeries a day, while treating scores of broken bones and minor injuries. After 2 successful surgery missions, AHVED partnered with Light of the World Charities to coordinate 4 more week-long medical missions, serving over 3,000 patients. AHVED’s team committed to preserving limbs providing the necessary follow up care, unlike in other areas with near 100% amputation rates, which leaves already poor people disabled and more challenged. Observers called the AHVED team a “shining light” in the overall disaster relief effort because of its ability to accept patients from hospitals that were buckling under the weight of an unprecedented patient load. AHVED rotated ongoing medical relief teams through Haiti’s Charles Colimon Hospital after the immediate crisis had past, bringing preventative health and chronic care providers such as gynecologists, infectious disease and internal medicine specialists, dental and pediatric surgeons.
After the Earthquake, over 50,000 refugees from Port-au-Prince settled in the St. Marc region, adding strain to already failing infrastructure. AHVED developed a partnership with the City of Saint-Marc, coordinating logistics for donations of heavy equipment from 2010 to 2014 and has continued to serve as a resource to Haitian communities in need, including after Hurricane Matthew leveled more communities in 2016 and reawakened the country's cholera epidemic.
AHVED in the USA:
In addition to supporting efforts in Haiti, AHVED has worked tirelessly to connect Haitian immigrants in the United States to resources and information. The US is home to the largest Haitian migrant population. Most Haitian immigrants in the United States arrived before the earthquake and have formed well-established communities in Florida and New York. From 1990 to 2015, the Haitian immigrant population tripled in size.
AHVED recognizes many Haitian parents are busy working multiple jobs and need support in creating safe activities for their children. In 2014 AHVED developed a teen program for about 30 Haitian teens, ages 14 to 19 from throughout Palm Beach County. AHVED coordinated a teen talent show complete with cash prizes. The teen talent initiative led to a teen job development initiative with internship assignments matching English-speaking 1st generation American youth with places of business in fields they think they are interested in so they can gain experience and have professional mentors – accountants, lawyers, etc., and help them to be clear in their career choices. The youth internship program has been expanded to include internships for adults- professionally-trained Haitian immigrants looking to transition into professional positions here in the USA. AHVED is now pursuing matching grants for a scholarship fund for both Haitian youth and adults to go to college.
AHVED has served as a vital resource to Haitians living in the United States, to build safe, stable and productive lives able to support their families as well as contribute to their new communities. The health of our immigrant communities is critical for the health of our state. One in five residents in Florida is an immigrant, making up more than a fourth of Florida’s labor force . Additionally, 12.5% of native-born Floridians have at least one immigrant parent . The Haitian immigrant community at 8.3% is Florida’s second largest, second only to Cubans and leading Mexicans at 6.8%. The Haitian immigrant community is a critical component of Florida’s labor force. In 2015, about 79 percent of Haitian immigrants were working age (18-64), only 6% are children under the age of 18. Despite high labor force participation, Haitian immigrants are more likely to be employed in low-wage service occupations than both foreign- and native-born populations: Haitian immigrants (38%), all immigrants (24%), native born (17%). The median household income for Haitians in 2015 was lower than that of the overall foreign-born population. Haitian immigrant households had a median income of $47,200 in 2015 dollars, compared to $51,500 for foreign-born households and $56,500 for native born-headed households.
Over the years, the Haitian community has grown. Unfortunately, the large growth of the Haitian Immigrant community has brought with it an increase in exploitation and cultural isolation. AHVED has stayed by their side guiding the community in the areas of immigration help, health insurance, taxes, public health concerns, digital literacy – how to apply online for jobs and benefits, etc. Essentially how to survive in USA, what are the laws here, how to stay out of trouble and how to keep their children out of trouble.