By Faybein Moy
Many Foreign Service officers, in addition to working on behalf of their Mission, seek to get personally involved in their host country to make a difference in the local culture and communities in which they work and live. In that spirit, one Foreign Service officer working at Embassy Port-au-Prince in Haiti, formed a committee of like-minded volunteers called Making a Difference (MAD) to take the idea of public service to the next level. MAD is comprised of both Foreign Service officers and locally employed staff who gather monthly to volunteer at different orphanages in Haiti. The mission of MAD, however, extends beyond the environment of Haiti. MAD was created to help provide hope for resilient communities worldwide through interactive engagement, sustainable support and educational initiatives.
As Haiti faces tough economic realities, Haitians increasingly find it difficult to support their families, send children to school and thrive in society. As a result, increasing numbers of Haitian parents are turning to orphanages to care for children that they are unable to care for themselves. Many of the approximately 30,000 children living in orphanages in Haiti have living parents. MAD has worked with local orphanages to provide food, clothes, toys, books, education on hygiene and finances, but most importantly time.
In June, MAD applied for and was awarded the Department of State’s J. Kirby Simon grant. This grant along with donations from the Department of Defense’s Office of Security Cooperation at the embassy allowed MAD to provide an orphanage 15 bunk beds, 30 mattresses and sheets, supplying 30 children with a bed to sleep in.
Coordinator for MAD and Senior General Services Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti Faybein Moy hopes to see volunteerism become commonplace for Department employees in the United States and abroad.
“I invite employees and their families to join the MAD movement and help to make a difference by volunteering or developing their own community service projects,” said Moy. “Community service is a great way to meet colleagues and locals; it builds character and is ultimately so rewarding.”
MAD Port-au-Prince created a Facebook page for volunteers to share the ways that they are making a difference in their communities, ideas for volunteering and feedback on the best ways Department employees can make a difference.
Faybein Moy is the supervisory general services officer at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti.