In August, a group of six young people from a Pittsburgh kinship care program will travel to Haiti for a cross-cultural trip through the charitable arm of a Homewood non-profit called A Second Chance, Inc.
Dr. Ervin Dyer is the creator and coordinator of “Passport to Empowerment” and said the program has the potential to be life changing for the participants.
“Many of them have come from very challenging family situations, and we want them to know that despite those obstacles, they can succeed and move beyond them and be strengthened by them,” said Dyer.
Dyer said the program is also meant to introduce the youth to the ideals of humanitarianism through personal empowerment.
“Passport to Empowerment is a project that was really designed to try to introduce young people to Haitian culture and art and what it can inform them about ideas of freedom, liberation, but also perseverance and resilience,” explained Dyer.
To prepare for the trip, the six participates attended Saturday morning workshops where they discuss topics that range from health and safety to Haitian history. They also participated in activities where they had to create budgets on a $2 per day salary -- the average income in Haiti.
This is the first international trip for the students. Quason Prater, 18, said he is looking forward to using his passport for the first time.
“This means so much to me," Prater said. "This is going to be my first time going like why out of the country, it gives me the opportunity to experience how the other half lives and gives me the opportunity to appreciate everything that I have."
Alajah Smith said she has always wanted to visit Haiti.
“When I was younger, and I found out they had the earthquake, me and my foster mom would watch the news and they showed where they rebuilt houses, and for some reason, I always wanted to do that,” recalled Smith.
While in Haiti the students will visit the National Museum, art galleries, teach at an English-speaking school, and participate in humanitarian projects.