My early childhood evolved during what some might consider the "Golden Era" of Haiti. 1946-1956 were progressive years under the leadership of Dumarsais Estime and Paul Eugene Magloire. While poverty certainly existed, the wrenching desperation and degrading misery, particularly in the over-populated cities, did not exist as it does today. Values of honesty, a work ethic, honor and degrees of true patriotism were prevalent. For generations, these values were cornerstones in my own family and a deep sense of belonging and involvement permeated our nationalism. Although born into the privileged class, as early as eight years old I was profoundly conscious that a great deal of my life, energies and competencies would be dedicated to alleviating the plight of the disenfranchised.
The Papa Doc Duvalier years of polarization and totalitarian rule caused an exodus of the intellectual and financial elite. Unfortunately and always to my profound regret, my family was no exception. Soon after came another exodus that would become known as "the boat people phenomena.” The many years of exile and constant exposure to other cultures and countries only strengthened my resolve to do my best, especially as a woman, to play a role in the development of my country and its people. The incredible generosity of the American people and their capacity to turn volunteerism into a potent force for change and good in the United States and abroad further awed and stimulated my propensities.
In my life, three key precepts have molded my aspirations, conduct, vision and actions:
- As creations of God, we are to be the light of the world…the salt of the earth.
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- To whom much has been given, much will be required.
Consequently, what I have experienced and internalized as social inheritance carries the weight and obligation of great responsibility. Thus, Fondation Espoir, started in Haiti in 1986, followed by the creation of Foundation Hope for Haiti, an American 501(c)3 organization whose main purpose is to raise funds to support the necessary and varied projects within Haitian communities. I am greatly indebted to all who have been supportive of this worthy endeavor from its inception and to the dedicated board members of both foundations.
In whatever capacity you can, please join us in helping Haitians in Haiti and around the world strive to reach their true potential and live as productive, dignified human beings. Thank you for walking some miles with us. Truly, the generosity of some is the hope of many.
Florence Bellande Robertson, Ph.D., President and CEO