Job Training Program 2.0: A New Chapter In Our Journey to End Poverty In Haiti

written by Sarah Sandsted, Director of International Programs in Haiti.

When you reflect on how you arrived at your professional status today, what were the necessary steps to get there?


For me, it began when I was 14 years old.  My mother hired me to run​ the cash register of our family-owned farm on weekends and in the summer​.  I learned how to engage with customers and count money. I developed an authentic understanding as to why sales are important to a business’ success, and how to be accountable. When I was 18, I interned at a local radio station, and in the ​F​alI I went to university where I worked part time at a Political Polling Center after class, and as a waitress in the evenings to help pay for my tuition.

After graduating, I moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as an unpaid Communications Intern for a non-profit.  This was, after all, the only thing my Bachelor’s degree qualified me for given such fierce competition in the big city.  After a year, I was hired as a full-time consultant.

At age 23, I finally had my first corporate job, and was a competent and qualified employee; a competency I had been slowly earning since I was 14.


In America, many of you probably share a similar experience.  Internships, training courses, family businesses, and part time jobs are the main ingredients to our youth. We are conditioned, from an early age, to understand how formal employment works and have access to several steps that prepare us for our professional lives. In Haiti, this is not the case for most people.

In a country where only 20% of school-aged children attend high school (World Bank), and ​only 1% of the population attend university, the urgency to work and be productive begins at an early age. ​I did say ONLY 1% has the chance to attend University.​

​That startling ​figure forces the young and untrained majority into the job market.  Unfortunately, however, job-training, internships, and part time jobs are almost non-existent in Haiti, and ultimately only an estimated 19.8% of people hold a job in the formal sector (World Factbook).  

As a result, a large percentage of Haiti’s population are hungry for work, but lack the necessary knowledge and experience to hold a formal job.


​Our job training program has undergone a recent transformation, expanding our curriculum from three to nine months to be more comprehensive in addressing this issue of unpreparedness.   ​We always ​believed that training for job ​readiness was important to our participants’ future. What we have learned, however, is that the content of this training needed to include more than modules of craftsmanship for future employment at deux mains. We have learned that financial and social vulnerability stems not only from not being able to hold a pair of scissors, but also from never having reported to a supervisor, or engaged with fellow colleagues.

In the first six months of the new and improved Lavi Program, we have witnessed a transformation in our participants, many of whom come from challenging backgrounds such as deportation from the Dominican Republic, to working on the streets of Port Au Prince, to living in a tent. None of whom have ever held a formal job.

Opportunity is the key to success, and a guaranteed job at deux mains upon graduation from our ​program will ultimately allow our participants to care for their families.

But job creation is only half of the equation. Preparation is crucial, and our team is well on their way to being well equipped for full time employment.

As current Lavi Trainee, Denise put it: “I love everything about the Lavi Training. This is the first time I’ve ever had formal job training before and on top of learning how to make sandals, I have learned how to manage my money, and how to be a professional.”


Your gift is a catalyst for change.  Lack of access to skills training and employment are the biggest barriers to self-sufficiency in Haiti. Join us as we holistically solve these issues with our comprehensive job training programs. Make a gift today.