May 29th, 2013
#kindawesome at NFFTY 2013: Ete Camp, inspiring leadership and academic excellence in Haiti
By KIND Editor
KIND believes in the power of youth and creativity! Last month we hosted a screening of 11 short films made by young filmmakers from around the country at the National Film Festival of Talented Youth (NFFTY) in Seattle. We salute young people who Do the KIND Thing—these stories and their creators are an inspiration for us all.
As a 20-year-old college student, Shaina Gilbert began planning a trip to her mother’s hometown of Hinche, Haiti. Gilbert had visited Haiti on numerous occasions as a child, but this time it was different—she didn’t want to go back “empty-handed.” So in December 2008, she decided to dedicate her summer to going back to Haiti and starting Ete Camp, a summer camp for underprivileged youth.
Haiti is unique in that 50% of the population is under the age of 18. “I wanted to work with the future leaders of Haiti,” Gilbert shares. She founded Ete Camp with the intention of teaching academic and leadership skills to young people in Haiti. In the four years that she’s organized the camp, the program has grown to provide institutional support and resources for young people. It serves children ages 8-12 and includes two meals a day, literacy and leadership classes, adult English learners classes and an alumni network. Some of the children who have “graduated” from the program even return as camp counselors. Each summer, the mayor and local leaders also visit the camp to give the youth an opportunity to connect leadership learned with leadership in action.
Today, Gilbert has a Masters in Education and is teaching Haitian youth in Boston. Gilbert has great advice for young people who are interested in doing the kind thing for their world: Stay positive, stay appreciative and be open. Have a vision and don’t be afraid to just try.