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A Helping Hand for Haiti: Program Teaches Skills to Supplement Dwindling Aid

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In the third part of our series, A Helping Hand for Haiti, NY1's Erin Clarke looks at a program the Edeyo Foundation thinks will help continue its mission as the earthquake that devastated the country four years ago becomes a distant memory.

After just a few hours, Michel Mercia has helped create about 100 accessories. She's one of three parents of Edeyo School children who is a member of a program the Edeyo Foundation is trying out.

It's called Bay Lavi and the organization is hoping it will be a means towards success for Haitian families.

"Bay Lavi is a program started by a young woman by the name of Alyssa Kuchta and she came up with the idea to help instill a sense of economic and financial independence specifically for the women," said Nneka Udoh, an Edeyo volunteer.

Udoh suggested partnering with Bay Lavi which itself is a non-profit that shares its model of teaching a skill, typically to females in impoverished countries and then helping them create accessories that are sold in the U.S.

"They will get 30 percent off of each of the product that they're creating and a base salary," said Former Edeyo Executive Director Kettie Jean. "If we do this program two to three days a month those parents can generate $150, $200 a month in a country where $40 a month is the average."

"This money, it depends on how I manage it. I can possibly even build a house with it," said Michel Mercia, an Edeyo School parent.

Edeyo chose to start first with its parents because the organization realizes Haiti and its plight is beginning to slip from donors' minds and money may not continue to flow to the country as it once did.

"We have to move away from the charity model and from the aid model because in the long term, it doesn't empower the population. It creates a culture of dependency," Jean said.

Through Bay Lavi the participants can acquire skills that could be parlayed into a business of their own.

"I do this with a hope that this will be successful in the future," Mercia said.

It's a means of income for the affected families, their community and a way to perpetuate the Edeyo Foundation goal of creating lasting and sustainable change.

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