A HEart FOR HAITI
During their undergraduate years at the University of Florida, Priscilla Zelaya, Ph.D. and Bertrhude Albert, Ph.D. co-founded Projects for Haiti (P4H). They had traveled to Haiti, separately on several occasions, and realized that they shared an unwavering passion for the Haitian people. They became determined to find a way to significantly contribute to the rebuilding of Haiti.
On March 5th, 2011, Priscilla and Bertrhude took a group of 19 UF students to Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Although they had no prior experience organizing international trips, they were confident that this trip would have a significant impact on the Haitian people. To their surprise, their impact was significant, but not positive. For months leading up the trip, Priscilla and Bertrhude had their team collect over 1,000 pounds of shoes, clothes, and food. They were confident that bringing mountains of supplies would help the Haitian people. After 7 days of distributing food and clothes, Priscilla and Bertrhude sought feedback from Haitian leaders in the community. The Haitian leaders told Priscilla and Bertrhude that because of the missions trip, many merchants in the community were going to lose business for weeks to come. Although the trip was design to help the Haitian people, it ended up hurting the community.
Upon return to the US, Priscilla and Bertrhude committed to understanding how to truly help vulnerable populations. Fueled by their faith, for months after their trip they discussed what it meant to live out Micah 6:8, “Seek justice, love mercy, walk Humbly with your God”. They knew that seeking justice meant moving past seeing Haitians an object of sympathy. They knew seeking justice meant using their hearts and minds when helping. Priscilla and Bertrhude became convinced that although most Haitians live abject poverty, circumstances don’t determine their potential.
As they sought to further understand sustainable development, Priscilla and Bertrhude decided to make Projects for Haiti an official organization. By July 6, 2011 P4H was incorporated as a Nonprofit Business in the state of Florida. By December 5, 2011 P4H was a 501(c)3 Nonprofit as outlined by the IRS. In the early years of formation, P4H committed to putting the development needs of the Haitian people above the self-gratifying desire to help. Years later this commitment continues to guide every program and trip P4H hosts.