Community Update: Breaking the Poverty Vacuum in Haiti

Salomon Asmath, team manager at Energy Central, a solar panel sales, installation, and maintenance company in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince is a 1998 graduate of Louverture Cleary School with a perfect employment record.  He has been continuously employed since graduating from LCS.  

Salomon is one of many graduates breaking stereotypes about poverty in Haiti. A snapshot of his resume shows a man who has worked his way from stock keeper at a hardware store to his current position at Energy Central, which he helped start and now co-owns.

His employee badge reads he is from Cité Soleil, a fact that throws his customers off.  Cité Soleil is a deeply impoverished area near Port-au-Prince and home to many LCS students. Typically, Cité Soleil is tapped for factory labor at best, while management positions are awarded to people with wealth and strong family connections. Salomon sees this changing thanks to LCS:

Employers want LCS graduates – they know that they can trust them. I have not seen anyone who was poor and did not go to LCS in a management position. 

While THP has always known that education empowers individuals and their families, 20 years and hundreds of alumni later, it is now clear that LCS graduates are empowering their nation.  THP President Deacon Patrick Moynihan characterizes this change as something physical, like breaking the vacuum seal off a jar. If people living in poverty have literally been kept in cultural isolation, then education, specifically a Louverture Cleary education, is the force breaking that seal to allow for an equal and free flowing exchange throughout all levels of society.  

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Salomon Asmath, LCS '98, at work at Energy Central, a solar company he helped begin and now co-owns.

Post graduate support emerges

Salomon graduated from LCS when Deacon Moynihan, newly arrived in Haiti, was confronted with the reality that without connections or money to pay for university, graduates had no place to go after LCS. Thus, THP's Junior Staff program was born, offering new graduates part time employment at LCS to help pay for university.  Deacon Moynihan hit the pavement quickly, establishing connections with local business owners for internships. It did not take long for THP’s Office of External Affairs to emerge – first, managing internships then, formalizing university scholarship and networking programs for graduates.  Today, the OEA supports university scholarships for more than 100 graduates every year and has a steady network of companies that are hiring LCS grads, sometimes up to 10 at a time.

Of LCS' more than 600 graduates, 90% are either in university or employed in Haiti.  The vacuum seal that has prevented Haiti's poor in the Port-au-Prince area from being seen as individuals capable of supporting themselves and their families has been broken through the power of education at one school.  Imagine the possibilities.

“In a country like Haiti the one thing we need is better education at all levels of society.”                                                                                                  – Salomon Asmath