Corretta Scott King was quoted as saying “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Sometimes, when we think about community, we focus solely on our neighbors. Yes, we should be participants in our community, but we should also think about community in a broader sense. Consider our online community, our ancestral community, and those with whom we share a nationality. Today’s guest is Haitian American Vanessa Fleury, the founder and director of Carl’s Village.She’s taken the idea of impacting her community to the next level by starting a nonprofit.
Vanessa is Haitian American. She was born in New York, and she grew up in Miami. She shares a strong connection with all three locations.
After college, Vanessa tried the AmeriCorps program. She wanted work experience, and in 2011, she started working with Haitian immigrants after the earthquake to help them get legal status in order to work in the U.S.
She later received a masters degree in Nonprofit Management, and now she’s started her own nonprofit, Carl’s Village.
The organization is named after Vanessa’s grandfather who passed away in 2015. It was a wonderful way to honor and continue his legacy.
Education is privatized in Haiti, meaning many parents can’t afford to send their kids to school. Carl’s Village fills in the education gaps through after school community programs.
Vanessa’s grandfather was an accountant and entrepreneur in Haiti. He’d always wanted to assist the local community, and after he died, Vanessa met with Canadian missionaries who helped her identify ways to support children in the community. She wanted to work that wasn’t already being done by other organizations.
In addition to its after school programs, Carl’s Village launched a community garden. The also feed their students in order to alleviate malnutrition.
Right now in Haiti there are lots of protest against government corruption. The Venezuelan government gave money to Haiti to provide infrastructure, and the people are demanding accountability for how the relief funds are being used.
Inflation is a real problem in Haiti. The value of Haitian currency is drastically sinking while the cost of living is going up. Protests broke out in the capital of Port-Au-Prince as a result.
Grand-Goâve is two hours south of Haiti’s capital. They’ve been able to avoid direct civil unrest, but as a result of the political turmoil, they’re not able to receive as many resources to the community.
18:33 – Working Internationally While Being Stateside
Vanessa shares the story of her parents’ journey to the United States in the 1970s.
Vanessa still lives in the United States, and she runs her nonprofit in Haiti from abroad. She says technology is essential to keeping everything running smoothly.
Vanessa jokingly claims every Caribbean parent wants their child to become a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, an engineer, or an accountant. Every other path is seemingly out of left field. Vanessa’s parents wanted her to be a lawyer, but it didn’t feel like it was the right fit for her.
Vanessa joined a public service sorority in college. She said it just felt right. It was the first time she realized she might be able to make a career out of working in the nonprofit industry.
Carl’s Village is a safe space for kids. Vanessa wants to provide children with the resources to excel and realize what they want to become in the future.
She wants the community to become a family. She wants the older kids to become leaders and provide stability to the area.
Getting To Know Our Guest:
27:54 – Vanessa shares with us her whackiest superstitions including the importance of scrubbing her house on New Year’s Eve. She also reveals her love of Whitney Houston, a weird family tradition, and what she’s most grateful for today.
Vanessa Fleury is the founder and director of Carl’s Village. Carl’s Village is a nonprofit agency providing tutoring and after school programs for young people in the region of Grand-Goâve, Haiti. Their goal is to establish a community that will create sustainable pathways to academic success and self-empowerment for young people in Haiti.