A reception in a downtown hotel in Port-au-Prince is buzzing with excitement. Fellow classmates are chatting about their plans after graduation. Many are dressed in their Sunday best to mark the proud day.
One hundred and fifty newly trained masons successfully graduated a joint program sponsored by USAID/KATA and CEMEX, a building materials company. The program trained young people living in poor neighborhoods on how to create quality masonry blocks. Of 150 graduates, 75 of them are people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
“The program helps them learn valuable skills and empowers them to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” said CHF International’s Haiti Director Alberto Wilde.
The graduates underwent a three month training that exposed them to masonry best practices and techniques. They also learned entrepreneurial skills to help them start micro enterprises. All students received molding, cement, sand, and a masonry guide at the end of the program.
“When I was working under somebody else I was making 2,500 gourdes ($62.50). But with my own business I make about 5,000 gourdes ($125). Of these 5,000 gourdes I have reinvested half in order that my business grows further. Now, I am planning to have a laborer in order to have even bigger productivity,” said Alcide Delcy, age 23.
The small business created by the USAID/KATA and CEMEX graduates can help support Haiti’s economic recovery. Their training also helps support the country’s efforts to build back better as homes and other buildings are constructed using higher quality blocks.
At the ceremony, CEMEX Representative Linda Gaillard said to the graduates, “You have the training in your heads and the tools in your hands. Now go out and do your best work.”
These words were met with loud cheers and big smiles.