Q: Tell us about yourself ! What city do you live in ? Where did you grow up ? Who are your family members ? Where did you go to school ? Where have you worked ?
A: I am Ricardo Etienne. I am currently 24 years old. I am a Christian. I currently live in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I grew up in Cap-Haitian, rural areas in the North of Haiti. I was raised by a single mother. I graduated in 2010 at College Martin Luther King, a high school in my community. After high school, I was the recipient of a full academic Scholarship for Education and Economic Development (SEED) awarded through the Center for Intercultural and Education Development (CIED) from Georgetown University to study Agriculture Business for Export at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the United States. While at Kirkwood, I was a member of the Agriculture Business Club and president of the International Student Club. I was a member of the Haitian American Leadership Council organization in Iowa City, Iowa and member of the Student Leadership Council at Kirkwood. In addition, I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Bill Clinton International Global Leadership Conference, St. Louis. I have done extensive volunteer work at the Kirkwood greenhouse, garden, grapes, and the swine confinement facilities. Upon return to Haiti, I have participated in community service projects at local churches, homeless shelters, and worked with disabled people. I successfully implemented a community agricultural action plan. I created an organization called “Volunteers in Action for Haiti,” with the mission to support and mentor disadvantaged children in their personal, spiritual and social development. I have taken personal responsibility engaging in activities which have developed my leadership skills, such as: taking initiative, handling responsibility, fostering good communication, developing tolerance for differences, creative problem solving, encouraging others, looking for the positive in people and fostering teamwork. I am working as Agronomist and Business Analyst at Operation Blessing International.
Q: What year did you start working with Volition and Action for Haiti (VAH) ?How long have you been working with VAH ?
A: Upon return to my country, my desire has been to fight against the desperate agricultural situation, by helping children and young people, and to encourage entrepreneurship in my community (Cap-Haitian). I designed and developed an agricultural program to empower more than 500 people by providing them with the training, tools, and technology to plant and maintain sustainable urban gardens. Through this program 1500, seedling and seed stock are to be provided to farmers to cultivate and manage their own small gardens. However, I realized that there were must need on supporting and mentoring disadvantaged and vulnerable children in Haiti. So in 2013, with the help of some friend, I decided to create VAH( volition and Action for Haiti) to help these children in need dream a better future.
Q: What is your “role” ? What are you currently doing ? How have you helped VAH to aid the children in Haiti with Food, Clothing and Education ?
A: As the coordinator or President of VAH, I am responsible to preside over meeting. I am in charge of encouraging all members to participate in discussion. I am in charge of making decisions in an orderly, timely and democratic manner. I ensure that the organization maintains positive and productive relationships with media, funders, donors, and other organizations. I serve as primary spokesperson for the organization. I have to represent the organization to the media. I represent the organization on governmental or nongovernmental organizations and committees. I lead and control the daily activity of the organization. I personality dedicated one third of my monthly salary as donation to VAH, to support this cause.
Q: What is your vision for VAH ? Why are you passionate about helping the children of Haiti ?
A: VAH( Volition and Action For Haiti) is the future of millions of children in needs in Haiti. VAH is the voice of millions of children who don’t have a voice to talk. VAH is for me, the ministry of Jesus Christ which will spread the gospel through Children around Haiti. My vision for VAH is to spread the organization throughout the 10 states of Haiti in which education will be granted to millions of kids in needs. I dream of seeing thousands of schools, and Universities, Orphanages, and church missions built, and financed by VAH. Through VAH, I personally want to be the change I want to see in the world.
Q: What makes you excited about life ? Where do you find inspiration?
A: And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,… 1 Corinthian 13:3, 4. So I find my inspiration in the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. I am very good at helping others. I also get this inspiration from my childhood. I just believe that children need to have a fair and better opportunity to success.