By Lisa Obradovich
After a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince and its surrounding area last January, over 3,000 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) were quick to offer their emergency relief efforts to help the people and towns most affected. As important as it was to deliver immediate support, it was also as important for NGOs to begin thinking of ways they could help build a sustainable future for Haiti’s people and long-term development.
While some NGOs focused on protecting children and others on banking, NetHope wanted to address the scarcity of skilled Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) professionals in Haiti. As seen through projects in microfinance, mHealth and deforestation mapping, ICT solutions harness the power to provide dynamic tools that are applicable across multiple verticals. A country with an ICT-trained population is a country equipped to produce far-reaching, effective products by its own people. As NetHope’s Field Capacity Building Program Director Frank Schott said, “we want to help Haitians help themselves.”
The NetHope Academy was created to give computer science students technical and on-the-job training in preparation for an ICT career. Last September, NetHope ushered in its first class of Haitian interns—a class of 39 that would be taught in the newly reconstructed La Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haìti. NetHope’s primary goal is to equip interns in six months with the skills and experience necessary to secure full-time employment.
In just one week, the inaugural class will meet the six-month mark and finish as NetHope Academy Haiti’s first graduating class. Each intern has had a rewarding IT internship with one of the 17 participating host organizations. Interns tested their newly learned practical skills on-the-job to complete common tasks in the field, like installing software, conducting maintenance and trouble-shooting technical problems.
Some interns have also been able to secure their Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) accreditations, which send a clear signal to potential employers that they are highly proficient and works hard.
Thus far, 24 of the 39 interns have been hired to fill full-time IT jobs. We congratulate all the interns on all their hard work and a job well done.
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