Blog Archive

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Meet RSM 90-90-9 Winner: Julie Kaehler

Julie Kaehler | Tax Client Service Representative | Rochester, MN
My passion is the betterment of the lives of the Haitian people. In November of 2013, I went on my first trip to Haiti and will be going on my 4th trip in June 2016.

We have a core group of Haiti volunteers consisting of 5 people. Two volunteers are RSM employees and another volunteer is a former RSM employee. We have partnered with a non-profit organization in Haiti called “Vision Hope for Haiti” (VHH). Vision Hope for Haiti is in a small community within the city of Port au Prince. The main vision of the organization is to empower their people through education so they will be able to support and feed themselves.

I continue returning to Haiti because I believe we can work beside the Haitians and teach them to be self-sufficient. Following are just a few instances of the events I have witnessed while in Haiti:
• We brought VHH donated soccer jerseys and balls so the children can now participate in a soccer club.
• We gave eye drops and vitamins to a 5 year old boy named Watson because his allergies and malnutrition were making it difficult for him to see. Watson is attending pre-school for the first time.
• We bought and delivered food to an orphanage and found out they had just run out of food the day before.
• There are adults who want an English vocabulary book so they can learn English, which will help them find a job in Haiti.
• I met an 8 year old boy named Moses whose left side is paralyzed and he has to drag himself in the dirt all day because he has no wheelchair.

We have been financially assisting them with various projects which include:
1. Completion of 2 wells. This area had no wells in their community before these wells were built. The Haitians were forced to purchase water or use water from the river which is filled with raw sewage.
2. Purchase of 2 transformers and 12 poles to provide electricity. This community had no electricity prior to this and the people that have homes can now sign up to have electricity brought to their home for a minimal fee.
3. Purchase of school supplies for 350 children so they could be enrolled in school for one semester. They do not have a school in their immediate area so the founder of VHH had to find schools that were 2 to 4 miles outside their community that would accept the children for one semester.

When we were in Haiti this past June, we looked at land that is located in this community and is for sale. In the long term, it would be better to help VHH purchase the land so that a school could be built in this area which would be free for children to attend and they would not have to walk so far to get to school. There would also be space on this land for community gardens. It is the belief of VHH to arm the children of Haiti with education for a better future.

I recently discovered ECHO, an international nonprofit organization based in Fort Myers, Florida. ECHO exists to reduce hunger and improve lives through agricultural training and resources. Working through regional impact centers around the world ECHO connects small-scale farmers, and those working to eliminate world hunger, with essential resources, and each other. These resources include a vast knowledgebase of practical information, experienced technical support and an extensive seedbank focused on highly beneficial underutilized plants. ECHO offers a 1 week training at their campus in Fort Myers. I would like to attend and take one more person with me to this agricultural camp. They will teach us the type of plants to grow in Haiti to meet their nutritional needs as well as how to be successful in growing the plants. Their information is also printed in Creole, the language in Haiti.

I think it is our responsibility to help those in need and I am asking you to help me help the Haitians. $10,000 would go a long way in making a difference in the lives of a lot of families by teaching them to become self-sufficient. I believe the core values of RSM would be aligned with this project for the following reasons:

1. Respect – The Haitian people do not want to continue to take handouts without changing the attitude in their country. We can show our respect for them by helping them provide the tools they need to educate their children and ultimately make the changes they need in their country.

2. Integrity – The founder of Vision Hope for Haiti (Jonas Ophedna) and his staff of volunteers are very dedicated to their community. Jonas at 26 years of age has the motivation to excite those around him to move to action. He is always putting the needs of others first.

3. Teamwork – We have a great team of people that travel to Haiti and we have an open invitation to anyone who is interested in joining us. It’s helpful to have a wide range of talents as we face various situations and obstacles in the country.

4. Excellence – We continually try to figure out ways that we can assist Haitians to strive to be the best they can be so that no child is turned away from school or goes to bed hungry.

5. Stewardship – Haiti is 680 miles from Miami, Florida, and yet is one of the poorest countries in the world. The Haitians do not need material items but they do need our assistance in teaching them to educate and feed their people. If we can make a change in a small community of 350 children, just think of the ripple effect that will have as these children become adults and have their own children. Our goal is to assist the Haitians to be self-sufficient.

No comments: