Sunday, February 9, 2014

INTERVIEW: American Developer Michael Capponi talks Helping Haiti Rebuild on Ocean Drive

On January 12, 2010, an earthquake devastated Haiti. Add to that a history of corruption, recent outbreaks of cholera, and a 2012 tropical storm, and parts of the country have become an ecological and economic disaster. Florida developer Michael Capponi took his first trip to Haiti to help the victims just after the earthquake; in 2011 he started his own nonprofit, called the Haiti Empowerment Mission, which provides the citizens of Haiti with the tools and education to break free from dependency. Here, Capponi tells Ocean Drive how he’s helping to rebuild the country, and a small coastal town called Jacmel:

What’s the meaning of the Haiti Empowerment Mission?
Michael Capponi: Haiti is a very complex situation where, for hundreds of years, they’ve never really had an opportunity to learn how to be independent, so it’s been a nation very dependent on foreign aid. I wanted to create a situation where we could empower the people of Haiti by teaching them. It could be anything from harvesting coffee to making jewelry to putting the children in a private school, or just teaching the residents about working at a hotel. So it’s to empower people to become self-sustaining. We put a lot of them in a hospitality school. The more I went to Haiti, I started understanding the problem was a lot bigger than a large group of people who lost their homes in an earthquake and just needed to be put back in their homes.

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