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I'm Nittai Malchin, a senior at Palo Alto High School in CA and the founder of One Love Advocates. Our mission is to do whatever possible to improve access to education in communities that are struggling with destructive or endemic problems. My immediate focus is helping kids in Haiti gain access to educational opportunities. I recently traveled to Haiti, and I will be documenting my trip on this site. There are 4 sections (see navigation above) to my mini site: (1) my blog where i document my activities, impressions and thoughts from Haiti (2) About One Love where you can read more about the initiative (3) Support One Love where you can learn how to get involved, donate or help (4) contact info. And on the right sidebar you will find more info such as links to other sites, feeds, photos, videos, and ways to contact me or share One Love with others. Also, check out the cool toolbar on the bottom of your screen to see our videos, photos, and Facebook page, for translations, and more. Thank you for visiting and feel free to share your thoughts.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sophonie


One of the major differences between the second trip and our first trip was that we were able to develop actual and authentic relationships with local Haitian people. Simply by the nature of the first trip, which involved work with schools and orphanages, there was less room for casual conversation. On Mon Bouton, however, we were able to learn from and about others during meals, hikes, and virtually any other activities. One of the people that we met and befriended is Sophonie François.

Sophonie, 22, traveled up to Mon Bouton along with us and Randy, whom she knows through her sister who is currently living in Rhode Island. We first met Sophonie outside of the hectic airport in Port-au-Prince, when we were focused on guarding our bags and searching for our ride, preventing us from properly greeting each other. After seven of us squeezed into the small 5-seated car, we began our journey together towards Mon Bouton, where we would spend the next week together.

Prior to the trip, we knew very little about Sophonie. In fact, all we knew was that she would be joining us on our adventure to the top of the mountain. However, after spending several days together, we came to learn a great deal about her life, her family, and her dreams and aspirations. Sophonie lived in a house in Port-au-Prince with her parents and one of her older sisters.Although they were forced to move into a smaller house, Sophonie's family remains among the lucky ones in the city, as they actually have a house, and do not live in a tent. Throughout our two trips to Haiti, it seems as though virtually every person that we met has terrible stories such as this one.

Despite the hardship, however, Sophonie (like many other Haitians) remained tremendously kind, positive, and optimistic. During our stay on Mon Bouton, she spent over an hour giving us a detailed account of Haiti's history, answering all of our questions happily, despite her struggles with English. Later, when we returned to Port-au-Prince, she kindly invited us to her house for a dinner that she cooked just for us. And another night, she took us out to her favorite restaurant in Port-au-Prince to give us a sense of the local culture. All of us (Omri, Drew, my Dad, and I) had a lot of fun with her as a friend, and learned a great deal from her as a role model.

Ever since finishing High School, Sophonie's main goal has been to continue her education at a university. Unfortunately, this was never possible because her family did not have enough money to support her. Now, after many years of waiting, Sophonie is finally able to fulfill her dream as she attends a school in Senegal. There is nobody more deserving of the opportunity to achieve a dream than Sophonie, and I wish her only the best in her future endeavors. Personally, and also on behalf of the rest of the One Love crew, I don't believe I have ever met anybody like Sophonie. Her honest, driven, and likable personality has inspired me to become a better person in all aspects of my life, and I'm sure she will continue to affect people the same way in the future.

One Love.

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