Katya(Pictured: Katya.)

Log #1 — July 15, 2011

This morning I woke up after the best night’s sleep I think I’ve had in a while. There’s absolutely nothing compared to being home. I landed in Haiti yesterday afternoon. The hustle and bustle of the people and the sights and sounds of the streets is something I missed dearly. With that, however, came the tent cities, the NGOs, and ridiculous amount of traffic. It is something that after a while, you get used to seeing.

This afternoon I went to a summer program where I used to be a counselor before I moved from Haiti. The program is called Rescue One. It works with children from underprivileged neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince and organizes a huge summer camp for them every year. The children make arts and crafts, get some schooling, and just be children. When I arrived the kids were in the middle of doing their arts and crafts. There was one girl who wanted me to take a picture of what she had made. It was a stitching of a heart made out of yarn and paper.

As she held the picture out in front of her, it made me think of the Haitian youth and how important they are to Haiti’s future. As a young Haitian myself, I recognize the need for the youth to be engaged in Haiti’s rebuilding process. We are fresh and young, unfettered by the old establishment and its cycle of corruption and inefficiency. If Haitian youth were given the chance to rise to their full potential, Haiti’s future would look much brighter than it does now. Out of all the investments being poured into Haiti right now, none of it seems to be going to educate the Haitian youth. Most NGOs and even the Haitian government are too busy trying to meet basic needs. But no struggling nation can ever be great without planning for the future. Invest in education. Invest in woman and girls. Invest in the youth. The youth are the heart of Haiti, and they need to be given a pulse.

Tania Smith, a student at the American University School of International Service, is a Foreign Policy in Focus intern.

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