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03 | Contagem, Betim and BH: A Beautiful Horizon for Haitian Youth leadership training program

COUNTRIES INVOLVED // Brazil and Haiti

CASE STUDY INSTITUTION/S AND AUTHORS // University of Brasilia (Brazil)
Author: Iara Leite

The program “A Beautiful Horizon for Haiti – Haitian Youth Leadership Training Program” is a partnership among three Brazilian city councils from the state of Minas Gerais – Belo Horizonte, Contagem and Betim – and a university - the Methodist Institute Izabela Hendrix. Its aim is to provide internships for 18 Haitian students that were given scholarships at Izabela Hendrix as part of its Training Program for Youth from Countries in Reconstruction. They are students of Architecture and Urbanism, Environmental, Civil and Production Engineering, Nutrition, Management and Biomedicine who came to Brazil in 2007/2008, after being selected by a Methodist organization (Haiti Global Vision Ministries). The program began in September, 2010, and is expected to last no more than two years, following Brazilian national law on internships.

The program is part of broader efforts that brought multiple individuals and actors from civil society and local governments together in order to cope with financial shortcomings that kept the university from meeting commitments it had previously assumed with Haiti Global Vision Ministries, besides offering the students scholarships. Searching for homes and revenue for the Haitian students and following a suggestion made by federal deputy Jô Morais right after the earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, Izabela Hendrix expanded previous efforts to mobilize local churches, the university’s students and the media by requesting direct support from the local government to cope with those challenges.

Because Belo Horizonte council could provide the students with 10 internships only, it had to mobilize two other cities in the metropolitan areas in order to fulfill the university’s demand. Goodwill and solidarity helped the partnership to be rapidly negotiated, but these motivations alone haven’t been enough to ensure the program’s effectiveness and eventual sustainability. Because this is the first time all three cities are involved in the provision of international development cooperation, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt, especially trying to align the students’ areas of study with local best practices and also with Haitian national and local development plans. Establishing partnerships with Haitian governmental institutions, as well as with experienced actors in international development cooperation in Brazil and abroad, will be fundamental for that – and articulations are already under way for those bridges to be build.

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