Coaching Resilient Leadership in Haiti
“There are eight levels of charity.... The highest is when you strengthen a man's hand until he need no longer be dependent upon others.”
Haiti knows disaster from earthquakes to epidemics to most recently the hurricane the devastated the southern finger of the country. But Haiti is also full of potential heroes—people with the strengths and motivation to change their world. These Haitian heroes are the key to recovery and development in Haiti, and they are the focus of this program.
Our goal is to work with 50 church and business leaders in Les Cayes, Haiti (the center of devastation of the recent hurricane) to develop their leadership skills and their innate capacity for resilience so that they might achieve concrete change in their communities.
Our plan is to lead three two-day seminars in Les Cayes to help them identify and build on the strengths that empower them as leaders. The first seminar is scheduled for January 16 – 17. More importantly, we will provide them ongoing coaching over a period of four months to catalyze them through the application of those strengths to complete specific projects that forward their communities.
The need for this program begins with the consistent challenges with which natural disasters and political unrest present communities in Haiti. These challenges threaten the potential for growth and development in Haiti. Communities faced with a string of tragedies and setbacks have a particular need for resilience—the capacity to adapt to life’s challenges and find the opportunities these challenges present for growth.
Our program helps religious and business leaders in Haiti cultivate their own capacity for resilience and bring it to the people that they lead. Resilience, psychologists have demonstrated, is a learned ability rooted in knowledge of one’s own strengths and gifts and in the capacity to see possibilities for moving forward in demanding circumstances. (For more, go here: www.psychologytoday.com/basics/resilience.) Resilience-training begins with the strengths that Haitian leaders already possess and teaches how to leverage those strengths to promote communal development.
This program also recognizes that leadership and resilience aren’t learned in a classroom—they are achieved in the trenches. Hence, the linchpin of the program is the ongoing coaching of its participants, helping them to work toward the achievement of their goals week by week. Coaching like resiliency training assumes that we all have the gifts and insight needed to move forward with our goals. The role of the coach is to help participants lay out a path of small steps leading to the achievement of their goals, problem-solve difficulties arising along the way, and then build on their last success as they move on to their next challenge. In the past three decades, coaching has proved to be an invaluable resource for leaders seeking to make a difference in their communities.
Please donate today to help support the development of resilient leaders in Haiti who can move their communities and their country forward in the face of daunting challenges. We are committed to this program and we will run the first two-day seminar before we’ve received funding, but we can continue the program only if there is funding to support our on-going efforts. Your donations are tax deductible through the Friend of BTI and Haiti 501c3, who will provide oversight for this project.
Dr. Stephen Edmondson is a certified Life Coach. He served as an Episcopal Priest for over twenty-five years before moving into this new vocation. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale University, and was a tenured professor on the faculty of the Virginia Theological Seminary.
The Rev. Dr. Kesner Ajax is the Dean of the Institute for Business and Technology in Les Cayes, Haiti, the rector of Ascension Church, Beraud, the president of the standing committee and the secretary of the diocesan convention in the Diocese of Haiti, and the director of the Episcopal Church Haiti Partnership program. He holds a D. Min from the Seminary of the South.
Guilene Fiefie is a teacher a the College Saint Martin de Tours and the Ecole Saint Paul, and an intern at Ascension Church, Beraud, Haiti. She holds an MA from the Virginia Theological Seminary.