This project involves the launching of an educational and recreational program for young Haitians in Boston, Massachusetts to promote wholesome recreation, self-esteem, and increased educational and professional opportunities. Because many youths in Massachusetts experience violence, this project will teach peaceful conflict resolution skills to enable youth to eradicate violence in their homes and communities. Participants will first learn to identify the different forms of violence (verbal, physical, emotional, etc.) and conflict existing in Massachusetts (political, socioeconomic, familial, workplace, etc.); they will then work in groups with other youth to propose preventative measures to conflict and violence.
When analyzing the political crisis, discrimination, and stigmatization against black communities, and economic instability which have marginalized the majority of Massachusetts’ Haitian population, it becomes apparent that these conditions have led to an increase in violence against immigrants, including exploitation, human trafficking, theft, assault, and rape, etc. The target group for this commitment includes young immigrants in the community most at risk of experiencing violence, including women, and children, especially those in economically depressed situations. Some of them are “just come” in the United States of America and have been incarcerated from their own people and not be able to have access to public services because of lack of knowledge on navigating into the American system.
For this commitment, we will offer an educational program to the Haitian youth in Boston, Massachusetts during the summer vacations, which lasts from early June to the end of August. Participants will be recruited during the preceding months through networks such as schools, churches, and community organizations of Massachusetts. Also, government institutions, businesses, and nonprofit organizations will be solicited for material and institutional support during this period. The program will then begin in June with training sessions and group discussions held biweekly at the ITIAHaiti’s campus in Boston. Seminars will focus on the eradication of violence and conflict as it exists in Massachusetts. Group discussions will be based on violence, conflict management, social cohesion, and peaceful conflict resolution. Since many youths learn effectively through applied teaching techniques, the program will also include sports and artistic components. The sports program will consist of basketball, soccer, volleyball, and ping pong tournaments, during which we will focus on teaching the concept of fair play and conflict prevention to Haitian immigrants. In the art program, artistically-minded youth can create paintings, musical compositions, theatrical plays, and other works of art to express their views and opinions on violence and conflict resolution. Similarly, we will organize singing, dancing, poetry, and drawing competitions to engage youth in discussions about how to address issues of violence and oppression in their society. At the end of the three-month program, a graduation ceremony will be held to showcase young peoples’ achievements, and certificates will be distributed to participants.
HOW THIS PROJECT IS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER
As community mentors and volunteers, we have collaborated extensively with area schools, churches, and organizations to inform young people about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, self-worth, and drug prevention. Throughout these experiences, it has become apparent to us that many local and international nonprofit organizations, as well as government agencies, are very interested in educational projects on conflict resolution and the eradication of violence. Churches, schools, and nonprofits are eager to implement such programs because they will help build a more cohesive society. This project differs from past programs we have been involved in because we have never before led an educational program on violence awareness. In addition to being a new project, this initiative will also incorporate innovative ideas such as the importance of the individual as part of a collective group in conflict resolution. Thus, the program will focus on both individual expression and group discussion.
Level of success for this commitment will be determined through several key indicators, including funds raised, number of enrolled participants, attendance at biweekly discussion groups, and participation in sporting and artistic events. The percentage of enrolled participants who complete the program and receive a certificate will also be a good indicator of program success. To conduct a more qualitative evaluation, we will ask participants to complete a closing survey in which they rate the effectiveness of the program and share their comments and suggestions. As part of the survey, we will also ask participants to share any experiences they had over the course of the summer in which they were able to apply the conflict resolution skills they learned in the seminars. These surveys will be evaluated to determine what aspects of the program were popular among the participants and what should be changed for the next year.
Violence is a problem encountered by far too many people in our society, especially girls, women, and children. Unfortunately, this issue is often overlooked and not discussed openly in national arenas. To resolve this problem, this project should be part of an integrated effort to eradicate violence by mobilizing Massachusetts’s youth and giving them the training they need to become community educators, fieldworkers, and specialists. These youth will then be able to implement further programs which will help increase the public consensus about violence, improve human communication in resolving conflicts, and mobilize government leaders to improve the situation of human rights in the country. This commitment will enable young people to lead such efforts in our community. The artistic works they produce during the program will be on display for others in the community to learn about young people’s ideas on peace and eradication of violence. Also, young people who complete our program will be able to teach their parents the principles they have learned. The project structure will include administration, human resources, equipment, backup plans for unforeseen events, follow-up, evaluation, teaching, and training.