From Dr. Charlene Désir (EdD, Harvard), Co-Founder & Executive Director
In 2009, I began creating relational education programing for Haitian youth. I was fortunate to have received a grant to support that effort. Unpredictably, during the implementation of the grant funded programs, an earthquake devastated Haiti, killing an estimated 220,000 people (the equivalent to 6,000,000 people in the United States of America today). Heartbreakingly, the majority of children and young adults that perished were learning or teaching in public school buildings at the time the earthquake struck. The graphic images of these students- under rubble- has consumed me. As a Harvard educated Haïtian school psychologist, I wondered about the cultural psycho-educational needs of surviving students and how my expertise could help in rebuilding the educational system for thousands upon thousands of displaced Haitian students.
T.E.N., Global promotes and supports the academic, spiritual, and psychological development of Haitian and Haitian-Americans through culturally responsive curriculum, mentoring, and community engagement projects.
Today, Haiti has the lowest literacy rates in the Americas and is the poorest country by many measures in the Western Hemisphere. It continues to be at risk for environmental crisis, natural disasters, and socio-political friction that further destabilizes the country. Nonetheless, it is the home of almost 12 million people with the majority under the age of 30 years old. While education remains a means for upward mobility; the Haitian government is not able to educate the vast majority of the Haitian youth. As a result, over 85% of the schools are private schools whose tuition precludes most from attending. Unquestionably, there is a large need for more and affordable educational opportunities which must also address the emotional and psychological adjustments and resistance of some children. These harsh conditions require spiritual strength. The majority of Haitians embrace spirituality, and this is the core tool for their survival. Accordingly, we focus on the following projects. Thank you for your much needed support!
Literacy Initiative for Empowerment – Lakou Zanfan Summer Camp
T.E.N. Global in partnership with schools and local community leaders provide a supplemental summer educational program to support reading, literacy, reflection on Haitian culture and educational principles, and integrate a psycho-educational lens to enable students to develop socio-emotional skills, and psychological awareness. They use these skills to navigate the world curiously, analytically, and with pride. Students will draw from a deeply Haitian spiritual foundation further fostered by this program. The curriculum is developed and taught by a team of psychologists, teachers, Haitian community leaders, and instructional aides, all trained in PanAfrican and Haitian pedagogy. Students will be mentored by Haitian elders and peers as well as engage in community projects.
Haitian Mental Health Think Tank
The importance of mental health is still an emerging concept in the Haitian community. The notion prevails in Haiti that mental health issues may stem from maleficent actions by the sufferer or actions of enemies. It is imperative to understand and demystify this Haitian ideology. Haitian mental health professionals practically do not exist in Haiti. Those that do exist (mostly trained in the US), lack cultural specific tools to engage this population; as the tools employed are primarily normed utilizing Eurocentric contexts. A recent as November of 2021, the National Association of Psychologists (APA) publicly apologized and admitted that their training and practices were bias against people of color. The Association of Black Psychologists rejected their apology stressing that the APA should state their methods of healing are simply not geared toward the healing of people of African descent living in the Americas. Accordingly, T.E.N. Global was instrumental in forming the Haitian Mental Health Tank (HMHT), a group of intergenerational, interfaith/no faith, Haitian therapists and psychologists of various disciplines. The goal of HMHT is to provide a network and knowledge base as well as training for mental health service providers serving Haitians.
The Black Androgynous Genius Project
T.E.N. Global supports young people who are financially and socially at risk due to their racial and ethnic positionality. These intersectionalities continue to expand as students themselves begin to identify who they are in the world. In working with Haitian youth, we found even within this marginalized group those who are identified as LGBTQ+ are often ostracized and abused by their families and within the community. In many cases they are viewed as an abomination. Students who openly identify as LGBTQ+ are often homeless due to being cut off from family and do not have access to Haitian service or support groups. In line with our mission of providing psycho-educational programming and services, we have become a valuable resources for these students – perhaps the only resource.
T.E.N. Global’s primary role is to cultivate empowered Haïtian youth in Haïti and the U.S. to make positive life choices, develop socio-cultural awareness, and to build literacy skills that will enable them to maximize their personal, interpersonal and communal potential toward independence and self-fulfillment. Please join me in making a difference in these precious lives.