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CDI Volunteer Nayrobi Rodriguez

6/2011

Nayrobi M. Rodriguez is a young professional in the field of human rights and social justice. She graduated from American University and holds a Masters degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Nayrobi joined CDI in March 2011 as part of the development team to seek grants and funding opportunities for CDI’s various programs. Currently, she has been working on two online fundraising campaigns for CDI’s Community Garden project at Asociacion Tepeyac on 14th Street totaling to a projected budget of $7,500.

 

Originally from the Dominican Republic, her interests are the protection of human rights in vulnerable and conflicting societies with a focus in Latin America and the United States.  She is very interested in mobilizing civil society to become active agents in the change they want to see in their global community. Nayrobi is fluent in Spanish and has worked with organizations such as Amnesty International where she worked on civic engagement to protect migrant workers rights in the U.S. southern tier.  As part of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission she helped organize State Department and Congressional staff briefings to advance Guatemalan issues in the U.S. foreign policy arena. Before moving back to New York City and joining the CDI team, Nayrobi participated in a Professional Certificate Program at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain.

 

To Nayrobi CDI has become an excellent opportunity to strengthen and develop her skills and meet diverse professionals in the field of international development. “The CDI team is like a family. The warm and welcoming environment in which it works in impressed me. Such passion has motivated me to stay on and devote my time and effort to help fulfill its mission,” she said. “I can’t wait to join CDI in its next trip to Haiti!”

 

During her free time, Nayrobi enjoys good books that fill the heart and strengthen the mind, traveling, dancing, and a warm cup of tea.

CDI Volunteer Profile: Johanna Rodriguez

 

4/2011

Johanna Rodriguez, 25, is a committed member of CDI's local volunteer group. She has been working with great dedication and enthusiasm on the Community Garden Project that CDI is rolling out at the Asociacion Tepeyac building on 14th street in New York City. Always available and willing to help out, she is a great contributor to the team and has pitched in on every effort to advance the project from soliciting in-kind donations to doing all sorts of hands-on work: cleaning the backyard, planting seeds, constructing the elevated planting beds and more.
 
From a young age Johanna felt the need to get involved in community support groups. "How we treat the planet and each other has always been an issue for me. Now more than ever, people are starting to realize the role they must play for vital community development. What seems to be still lacking, however, is solid information on how people can get involved." Glad to have found an outlet with CDI, Johanna wants to "instruct as many communities as possible of the importance of environmental stewardship, organic food, ecological awareness and the interconnectedness between human life and nature. I believe that if we all make an effort to take care of these things, the world would change for the better and many present problems would disappear."
 
Johanna's spirit and easy-going nature play well with the rest of the team while her motivation and willingness to learn translate into solid results for the garden, for the volunteer group, and for CDI. Thank you Johanna! Keep up the good work!

CDI Volunteer Profile: Dillon Nichols

Dillon

 

2/2011

Dillon Nichols had known CDI co-founder Matthias Resch from a Human Rights workshop they both attended in Kgali, Rwanda, a few years ago. When Dillon learned of CDI he quickly became interested and involved. His proactivity led him to become part of the team that traveled to Seguin during the last week of January 2011. As one of three newcomers to the CDI team, Dillon fit right into the mix and became a trusted and valued member of the group. Prior to our team's departure Dillon was instrumental in collecting large amounts of OTC meds and other supplies that were essential for our projects in Haiti. In the field, he worked hard and vigorously, took plenty of photographs and video footage, and provided the rest of the team with a few good laughs. Thank you Dillon for joining. We are looking forward to working with you again. 


Dillon Nichols is a traveller, social entrepreneur, and student, originally from Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California with a degree in Political Science and Spanish and studied at the College for International Studies in Madrid, Spain. After graduation, he spent 8 months in South America traveling and working as a project coordinator with a development organization in southern Peru. His interests in international development focus on making rural communities in the developing world economically and ecologically sustainable. Prior to his experience with CDI, Dillon worked on a U.S. Senate campaign in his native Kentucky. He speaks fluent English and Spanish. This fall he will enroll in law school.



"I went to Haiti with CDI at the end of January. Our primary purpose was to augment the capacity of the Cloud Forest Medical Clinic with our team of medical professionals and supplies and to build a public latrine near the Seguin market. We made headway on the latrine project and negotiated a contract to have it completed after we left. Our medical team treated many patients at the clinic allowing the staff to spend a few days in the forest conducting research at a village suffering from a devastating outbreak of cholera. Most importantly we continued to develop our relationship with community leaders in Seguin. It was an amazing and humbling experience, one that I think will allow CDI to build on for future projects."

CDI Volunteer Profile: Nick Brennan

 

11/2010

Nicholas Brennan is a journalist and filmmaker currently based in New York City. His latest documentary, “Hard Rock Havana” premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. He was born and raised in New England and graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in May 2010 where he was a Willard TC Johnson Fellow in the Film & TV program. In college, he worked for ABC News, the New York Times, Current TV, and Vice Magazine. His latest project, "A Marine's Guide to Fishing", a short fiction film capturing a young veteran's return to the dockyards of Maine after losing his leg in Iraq, is currently in post-production. The film is a recipient of a Warner Bros Production Grant. He speaks conversational Spanish, French and has a semester’s worth of Chinese Mandarin under his belt. He is also currently trying to master Haitian Creole after spending time with CDI in Haiti during the July/August demographic surveying mission. Nick was instrumental in collecting photo and video footage from this trip and some if his work can be seen here and all over this website.

 

Nicholas Brennan, who became a close friend of local Haitian CDI volunteer Evens Belamour, in his own words:

 

"I traveled to Seguin with CDI in July as a photographer. It was my first trip to Haiti and having the opportunity to be introduced to the country by the passionate and dedicated leaders of CDI was great experience. Taking photographs and videos during the two week trip, I focused on trying to capture the people CDI works with and interacts with in an honest and revealing light that can help serve as a bridge of understanding between this farming community in the southern mountains of Haiti and those looking to help in the US. On this two week trip I also spent a lot of time listening and learning from the Haitians we spent time with. Learning to speak bits of Creole mixed in with my awful high school level French, this opportunity to share and befriend young Haitians was my favorite part of the experience. I came home with many photographs and lots of video footage that hopefully will help others understand a little bit more about this part of Haiti. I can't wait to be on the next CDI trip!"

CDI Volunteer Profile: Evens Belamour

Volunteer

10/2010

Evens Belamour is a Haitian native from the Bel Air section of Port au Prince who currently lives with his family in the tent camp in front of the National Palace. After the earthquake, when several CDI members formed a team to host a medical clinic, Evens served as a translator for us. Now Evens has become a part of the CDI team and served as a translator again during our demographic surveying in Seguin this summer. Evens is currently enrolled in one of the best English language programs in Port au Prince.


"A close CDI companion has been 26 year old Evens Belamour. Since March 2010, when we first met him during our medical relief work, he's been a translator as well as a keen navigator of Haitian society for us. Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, he's a city boy by nature. He used to live in a neighborhood called Bel Air with his mother and siblings. Since the earthquake though he has been spending the nights in a tent on the edge of a large camp in front of the National Palace called Champs de Mars. It's crowded, hot, and dangerous. He prefers his old home, but after the trauma of the quake, his mother refuses to sleep under the concrete roof. He was excited, to say the least, to have the opportunity to spend some time with us outside of the city when we took him to Seguin for the first time back in July.


In exchange for his services for CDI, Evens receives CDI tuition support for him to attend an English certificate course at a local university. He's very smart, but because his family lacks the financial resources, he was unable to study beyond secondary school, like too many of Haiti's youth. Getting a certificate in English will go a long way towards helping him land a steady job - with CDI or otherwise - something he says is very hard to come by in his neighborhood.


During the two weeks in Seguin, Evens was able to get a glimpse of a different side of Haiti. While he'd traveled to other parts of Haiti occasionally as a child, he'd never been to the mountains or the farmlands of Seguin. Because he was with us during the interviews with the local population which CDI conducted as part of its demographic research, Evens saw new perspectives and the different struggles of those living in the countryside. It was a shocking experience for him, he said, because many living in Seguin are worse off in many ways than those in Port-au-Prince.


He also got to experience new activities. He went swimming for the first time in his life, a very exciting and thrilling event for him, signed up for a Facebook account (friend him!), and hiked more miles than he'd ever imagined. Throughout these two weeks and during his time as translator during our medical relief mission in March, Evens was a close and trusted friend to us. He's now back in Port-au-Prince with his family and girlfriend, studying English and playing soccer while trying to stay dry during the hurricane season. See you soon Evens!"


Interview with CDI volunteer Evens Belamour

Seguin, Haiti, January 2011 (transcript)


Kevin: Tell us about your experience with CDI.


Evens: When I was sick at home, CDI came to my home and checked on me. They noticed that I was ill. And they helped me. After that I started to go on trips with them. My experience with CDI is something precious because with CDI  I learned a lot of things.  These were things that I was never used to doing. So I learned how to do those like… walking  up the mountains and helping people.


Matthias: Give us the story how you met us [CDI], how you started working with CDI.


Evens: The way I met CDI was after the Earthquake. CDI went to the area where I lived. They were giving aid to people who where bleeding and hurt, those who were affected by the Earthquake. When I was near my house CDI was providing aid...  I learned to speak English... When I was in school I loved English…I asked if can help with CDI and since then I have begun interpreting for them. They noticed how I worked well and kept in contact… I am very happy and I am proud of myself  because if I was not someone who liked to work this thing would have never happened. It’s because I like to help and help people. And it was good what [they] were doing for my people in my area …CDI was giving aid to people in my area so I had to give my help... They were doing good things. That’a how I met up with them since then. We have done may activities together, we have talked... I like to give my help a lot . That is why I can say that CDI is my life.


Kevin: Se La Vie


Evens: Se la vie mwen. (It’s my life )


Kevin: This is your second time in Seguin right? Tell us what’s it’s like in Seguin.What your thoughts are.


Evans: My thoughts on Seguin... It is a beautiful area. Where you can breathe well. The weather is beautiful and you sleep comfortably. What I also like about Seguin is you hear a lot of little birds singing, you breathe well you walk well and the way the people (carry) themselves too. And the way the kids are. They like to see strangers and they also appreciate strangers when they come there. They treat us so well… For me Seguin is a beautiful zone.


Kevin: Talk a little bit about translating for Bibi [MD] and your experience in the medical clinic with her.


Evens: My experience in translating… It is the second time I have done interpreting [for CDI]. It is a good experience for me because I have learned a lot of words and also, when someone is sick, what kind of medicine to give them and I learned to love other people and to like what I did. Translating  for a doctor is not an easy thing especially since I have not  very good English. We worked well together with Bibi because she understood me and I understood her too. It was a grand experience for me.


Matthias: From what you saw in Seguin what do you say the problems are and what do you think needs to be done? Also do you think that life is harder here than life in Port-au-Prince? 


Evens: Well, life in in Seguin is harder than in Port-au-Prince. The reason why I can say this is because there are things in Port-au-Prince that they don’t have here. They lack a hospital, they lack[ed] a latrine, a lot of activities, they have no electricity. That means that when it is 6pm darkness sets in. There are a lot of kids too that don’t attend school. They need a school. They also need a lot of things: a market and roads. Because the roads are not okay. For you to come from Port-au-Prince to get to Seguin. It is difficult. If you get there it is by the grace of God. Because the roads are not good at all. Seguin needs a lot of things from what I just explained.


Jean: What do you see as the resources of Seguin?


Evens:  Resources I see in Segiun... its plants, forest... and they have land too. Where they could build a lot things that they want to build. For me the plant life is the most important resource for Seguin. Because to develop Seguin you have to focus on its  agriculture the most. That’s what I see most. Because most people plant. If you ask them what they do most it’s mostly planting. What I would like the Seguin people to have are the materials that would help them advance in agriculture. What I would like to see addressed also are lifestyles. Because most kids get no health support. And they don’t have normal life conditions. We see they are dirty, there is no one to care for  them. They  need some maternal influence. Because, the kids… I see that they are running wild. They go where they want to go... What is most important is an education… you need one because most of the kids in Seguin cannot read or write… And  if you want to develop an area like this you have to give the kids an education. To read and to  write. Because development in this area begins with the young... Because the youth, if you don’t implement an education, they will cut the down the woods because they have not learned a way to live, in a good environment. When we visit the forest [you see] most people cut the woods. They think that cutting the woods is the lifestyle. But they have no one to help them develop their talents and show them that the forest is their resource. Education is the first that needs to be touched. 


Matthias: Do you enjoy going to Seguin. Do you think people would enjoy going there?


Evens: Well, I like Seguin’s temperature. It’s a beautiful temperature.  And  you breathe well too. There is no trash. They take responsibility for their trash. You don’t find trash [laid out] easily. When I compare the environment of Seguin and Port-au-Prince I notice that Seguin is cleaner than Port-Au-Prince. Because when you are in Seguin you breathe so well….you sleep well and you do everything well. I like the Seguin environment. Because when I am here I see things that I have never seen before. I have seen mountains, certain animals for the first time. In general I love the Seguin environment.  


Matthias:  Tell me what you liked most about this trip.


Evens: What I liked most about the trip is the way the people took care of us. And the way we worked we completed a lot of activities. When I am an interpreter I feel like it is an experience that makes me think about tomorrow.

 

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