The following article was published in the Carroll County Times on April 19, 2006:
Man takes up fight against Haitian poverty
By Marjorie Censer, times staff writer Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Brian House was taken aback by the poverty he saw in Haiti when he arrived there as a Peace Corps member in
But he soon saw more than just hardship - he saw the positive attitudes of residents, the strong relationships within
families and the cooperation among communities.
"As I spent more time there, you kind of see through the poverty," he said.
Last year, Westminster resident House founded the nonprofit organization Hope for Haiti to fund school tuitions and
fees for Haitian children. He is now working to raise enough money to register 100 children for private school when
he travels to Haiti in June.
After joining the Peace Corps, House, a graduate of Westminster High School and Salisbury University, was assigned
to Haiti. He moved to the town of Chambellan in February 2003 and worked with a youth group that produced crafts
sold locally and to international organizations. Applying his business administration background, he helped the
members - students ages 15 to 25 - find ideas, improve the quality of the products and better market the crafts.
He also helped build hundreds of new latrines and a community center facility.
But, in 2004, the Peace Corps evacuated its staff because of a turbulent political situation. Even though the Peace
Corps program was suspended, House opted to stay in Haiti.
He moved to Ile-a-Vache, where he helped international relief organizations get medical and food supplies.
After several months, however, House decided to return to the United States. Without any income, he could no longer
afford to stay.
In early 2005, he began work on Hope for Haiti, which seeks to open educational doors for Haitian youths.
The country's population is young, he said, so it's especially important to improve education for children.
"They're basically the future of the country," he said. "They make up such a large portion of the population."
Suzanne House, Brian's mother and one of his organization's supporters, said education is the best way to help
Haitians provide for themselves.
"They're so used to getting handouts," she said. "They need to learn how to take care of themselves."
Brian enlisted a friend and coworker, Erica McGinnes, to serve as the organization's treasurer. Though she's never
been to Haiti, McGinnes said she developed an attachment to the country through Brian.
Brian House has also established selection committees, made up of community leaders, in Chambellan and
Ile-a-Vache to find children in need of Hope for Haiti's support.
He wants to raise enough money to register 50 children in each community for private schooling this year. A primary
school private education costs roughly $75 annually, Brian said, including the cost of uniforms and books.
The fundraising challenge, McGinnes said, is that most people are unfamiliar with Hope for Haiti. They don't know
why they should give to an organization that they've never heard of, she said.
Brian said his group is starting small, but he has hopes to increase its reach.
Eventually, he said, he'd like to expand his work beyond the two communities where he lived. He'd also like to
improve agricultural education for farmers and even provide farming equipment.
Brian may also spend more time in Haiti in the future. He used to be surprised by his attachment to the country, but
realized many former Peace Corps volunteers feel the same way.
"I figured I would go there for two years, I would do my work there," Brian said, but then he expected to leave for
good. Instead, he had to leave early, but didn't want to.
"I would've liked to have stayed," he said.
Reach staff writer Marjorie Censer at 410-857-7886 or email@example.com.
Hope for Haiti