All eyes were on Haiti after a massive earthquake rattled Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010. The already poor infrastructure crumbled, leaving the people of Haiti reeling with severe physical and emotional loss. Meeting basic needs and finding meaningful work soon became even more challenging to a populace where more than two thirds of the workforce does not have a formal job.
To assist with the job recovery efforts, NetHope launched its inaugural NetHope Academy Intern Program. This six month training program provides the technical skills, soft skills and practical experience that unemployed but tech-savvy youth need to find employment. I have maintained close relationships with many graduates of our inaugural class and have been amazed by their progress over the last four years. One in particular, Jude Antenor, has shown an incredible passion for learning and technology and has not wavered since I first met him. In the video below, he shares his belief that education is the key to opening all doors.
After working as an Intern at CHF international, Jude was quickly promoted to an IT Officer and spent two years there before working on assignment at International Rescue Committee and now on a USAID-funded project at DAI. He spends his days providing technical assistance to a diverse group of users along with providing training on Microsoft Office software. It is important to him to always show the user how to solve their problem so that they can learn and troubleshoot on their own in the future. Jude loves the challenge that comes with maintaining the computers, network and other technology equipment. There is always something to learn and the challenges he has faced have made him a more proactive and creative person.
Jude's growth has not come only from his own efforts, but from those peers and instructors he met through the NetHope Academy program. He and his colleagues have remained in close contact and are quick to share lessons learned and professional opportunities with each other. Without the reference from a classmate, Jude would not have learned of his current opportunity. He credits NetHope Academy MCT instructor, Marc Michault, for constantly reminding the class to teach others what they know. This bit of advice has stuck with Jude, and he is constantly looking for ways to develop his ability to share his knowledge with others.
In the last four years, Jude has realized that it is critical to be a lifelong learner if you want a career in technology. If you aren't constantly growing your knowledge, technology will leave you behind. His advice to students looking to become IT professionals is simple:
"Keep on studying! Don't be afraid to engage in self-learning on the Internet. Most importantly, when you don't understand, ask someone who can help you. Always help each other."
Jude's story is just one of the many from the young Haitians who have blossomed into confident, capable IT professionals. We are so proud of him and of his classmates, who have overcome great odds to be where they are today. Jude tells us that he and NetHope Academy are a never-ending story. We can't wait to see where this adventure leads him, and his fellow graduates, next.