It was January 13th, 2010, the day after one of the most deadly quakes in history. Aftershocks continued and everyone faced a scene so chaotic it defies description.
Living in a community in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince just a few miles from the epicenter, Guyto Desrosiers had every reason to focus on his own family’s needs. Instead, Guyto gathered friends and neighbors to focus on the needs of the entire community.
“We began organizing a group of people and put together an action plan that would allow us to help those most traumatized,” Guyto said.
They tended to the wounded, assembled temporary housing in an open lot, and buried their dead. In the following weeks Guyto and his neighbors created a formal neighborhood organization to respond to those in greatest need and direct outside aid that began arriving.
Guyto and his fellow leaders undertook this effort not at the prompting of a foreign organization or a local authority – rather they did it themselves with their own strength and resources.
Several months after the quake they learned about training Beyond Borders was offereing to communities on how to protect their children from abuse and exploitation and reunite separated kids with their families.
Guyto played a critical role in helping leaders in his organization get this training and in nurturing a local movement to change how children are treated.
His own facilitation gifts were so strong that he was recruited to become a master trainer with our partner organization, Fondasyon Limye Lavi.
In this role, Guyto has trained 29 groups of local leaders in child protection methods. The nearly 300 participants in these trainings have, in turn, led over 3,000 local volunteer child rights activists through our six-month training program. This has prepared them to help tens of thousands of Haiti’s most vulnerable children in dozens of neighborhoods and communities.
This ‘train-the-trainer’ approach is key to helping people build movements that address the complex social problems that have plagued Haiti since long before the 2010 earthquake. The cornerstone of this approach is the extraordinary strength and commitment of ordinary Haitians like Guyto. Developing and investing in grassroots leadership takes time and often starts small, but it grows exponentially and deep to produce lasting change.
The news may not be telling you about the remarkable work that ordinary Haitians are realizing every day. But Haiti’s recovery and its future depend on investing in people like Guyto, ordinary people who will build the movements that will transform their country.