Home > Uncategorized > A Reverse Brain Drain?

A Reverse Brain Drain?

When I was working on my schedule of interviews today, it became apparent that I needed a translator for some time in the afternoon.  My host Helena introduced me to a just-arrived volunteer intern, Vanessa Short.  It turns out she and her husband Caleb decided to leave their jobs and lives in the U.S. behind and come to Haiti for at least six months to volunteer with Fonkoze.  Their motivation seems to come from a combination of religious faith, a desire (on Vanessa’s part) to contribute to the land of her birth, and the magnetic pull of adventure on young adults before they start having children. 

They set up a website to spread the word about their odyssey and raise money to support their modest expenses here – I am going to make a contribution for sure!  Both Vanessa and Caleb have been reading my blog even as they have been put right to work – Caleb did a day trip to Jacmel on his first day on “the job”; Vanessa seems happily occupied herself.  Check them out on Facebook (search for “live from Haiti”) as well as their website (which is also listed on their colorful business card pictured below).   Vanessa introduced me to Stephanie Garry, who is also a Fonkoze intern focused on social media – she says she’s been using the “content” in this blog to spread the word.  Terrific! 

Vanessa and Caleb's business card

Some people in Haiti believe that there is a reverse brain-drain underway – that a growing number of Haitians from the diaspora are returning to help rebuild.  Others assert that a new generation of the super-rich families here are showing social responsibility and commitment to improving the country, rather than simply further enriching themselves and strengthening their links to the U.S and Europe.  It is not clear whether these represent wishful thinking or promising trends, but I have certainly seen some anecdotal evidence of both.  (Disclosure: I am an optimist by nature.) 

I got Vanessa to speak on camera about her motivation for coming and did a fair job of editing one of her responses after a lot of effort.  She obviously believes that the brain drain continues; however, she wants to contribute to a reversal. 

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks for the write up, Alex! Keep us posted on the status of the book.

  2. July 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Brain Gain, Brain circulation … I would suggest to interview the Diaspora members that were involved at the initiale drafting of Fonkoze. Some fundraised for Fonkoze, some gave technical assistant to Father Joseph and Anne Hasting and I think you will find some other Diasporas who did return to work prior to the Earthquake.
    Kudos to Caleb and Vanessa for their commitment!

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