My name is Kenneth Saint Preux, and I am a junior in the Diplomacy and International Relations program at Seton Hall. Over the summer, I interned in Mirebalais, Haiti for an organization called Fonkoze, an NGO that works to alleviate poverty in Haiti. I interned in their CLM (Chemen Lavi Miyò) program. Chemen Lavi Miyò means “Pathway to a Better Life”. This phrase embodies the program’s goals. CLM’s goal is provide services and empowerment to low-income women across the central plateau region of Haiti. My responsibilities included accompanying case managers to various sites to research and assist on project implementation while managing participants.
Working with an NGO in a developing state gave me access to knowledge that most people would not be able to obtain. Fonkoze gave me an opportunity to better understand the issues that are plaguing Haiti. By understanding these various issues, I am also learning more about the foreign policy of Haiti. Haiti lacks many resources and depends on aid from the U.S. and trade with the Dominican Republic. The Haitian Government’s reliance on aid and trade allows for the poverty issue in Haiti to be exacerbated to the point where it is almost impossible to find “the poorest of the poor” in Haiti.
My coursework has helped during this internship as many of the challenges I encountered came from the cultural differences between the staff and participants. My Cross-Cultural Negotiation and Conflict Management course helped significantly with my communication skills. As I have learned throughout my studies, interacting with those of other cultures is a key component to the art of diplomacy and becoming a practitioner in the field. Another class that helped me with my internship was my Institutions of Global Governance class, teaching me about the functionality of NGOs across various developed and developing nation-states. NGOs play a significant role in Haiti, as they provide services that the Government of Haiti cannot provide. Fonkoze is such an example. The last course I will mention that helped in this internship was my Sustainable Development class, which taught me how nation-states could grow and prosper while also stressing the intersectionality of poverty and economic development. Poverty is not an issue that just simply disappears over time or periods of growth; solutions require massive amounts of effort and research. This connects to my current work, as Fonkoze focuses its efforts on female-headed households, due to their usually being the most fragile of these families under “extreme poverty”.
I would recommend Fonkoze to students interested in gaining experience in the development field. Fonkoze is a great organization that will send you to a place that truly needs help. Fonkoze gives students the opportunity to see a successful NGO in a developing state.