By Laura Nott
Empowering Haitians to build a stronger Haiti. This is the PLH motto. But this is not just a catchy phrase or an abstract idea. This is the metric by which PLH operates. This month, I was proud to see the leaders of PLH put this into practice yet again by including our Haitian leaders in their strategic planning process.
PLH is currently in the process of developing a 3-year strategic plan. Guesly Dessieux (CEO) and Sarah Comstock (Board Chair) asked me, as the in-country worker, to arrange a meeting with three of our Haitian staff to complete the first stage of the strategic planning process.
On Aug 17, Thonny Fabien (Haiti Operations Manager), Benedic Maxime (Camp Marie Operations Manager), Gerald Grecilien (English Instructor), and myself joined together to discuss the desired state of PLH — where we want to see the organization in 3 years. As instructed, we asked ourselves, “What is a 10?” In other words, what would it look like if PLH was functioning in a way that warranted a score of 10 out of 10? We considered programs, administration, organizational culture, infrastructure, financial management, etc.
Throughout the discussion, I continued to marvel at the passion, commitment, and pride of the three men that sat with me. They openly shared their ideas, dreams, and concerns. They listened and fed off each other and myself. They took their task seriously. Much of what they discussed was in regards to the culture of PLH: how we as an organization can blend Haitian culture and American standards and how we can perpetuate a Christ-like attitude within our own team as well as the larger community we are a part of. They discussed the end goals of spreading the gospel and empowering individuals to succeed. I appreciated how they didn’t only list the programs and facilities that they dreamed of having for the community but they also put thought into what a healthy organization looks like and what the true results of the work will be.
As we reached the end of our 3-hour meeting, Benedic commented, “This is the longest I’ve ever spent speaking English.” I am so proud of this man and the leader and advocate he is for PLH and his community. As the operations manager for Camp Marie, he fields most of the questions and requests from the community, oversees projects and resolves issues, and PLH has high expectations on him, but he stands firm. None of us are perfect, but he is humble, level-headed, and rooted in Christ.
In a few weeks, the stateside team will conduct their own strategic planning session asking themselves “What is a 10?” But the notes from the Haiti meeting will serve as a valued voice of the Haitian people. In the upcoming months, we plan to continue working through the next three steps of the process with the Haitian and stateside committees.
This process has reiterated why it is that I believe in PLH and what they are doing. I am proud to work for an organization that values their staff and those they serve enough to give them a platform and truly hear what they have to say. And I am proud to work alongside American and Haitian employees that are passionate and comfortable enough to share their voice and work together to accomplish a shared goal. I am also humbled by the community of people in Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, and so many other places who support this work with their time, money, knowledge and passion. Together, we truly are empowering Haitians to build a stronger Haiti.
PLH is strong. God has blessed this organization with experienced, humble leaders, with committed workers, and with passionate supporters. These three groups make up the PLH community. I consider myself blessed to be a part of it. I hope you do too.