I had promised to share with you two additional questions and answers from my interview of Ian Rosenberger regarding Tassy Filsaime, the young Haitian who Ian brought to Pittsburgh for life-saving surgery.
Here they are interspersed with some photos of Tassy’s triumphant return to Haiti a few weeks ago, all photos courtesy of Team Tassy.
What’s next for this charitable effort? Is this the end of the road, or is there more work to be done for more Haitians?
If going to Haiti and meeting Tass did anything, it reminded us all just how much work we have to do. We could work forever and not get through everything. The nice thing about that is it makes it very easy to make a big differece quickly. When you ask Haitians what they need to be successful long term, you always get the same answer. Education and Jobs (its the same anywhere really).
So, Step One: Education. We’ve started an endowment that will help kids like Tassy from all over the world. Kids with diseases and illnesses that are otherwise curable, but unable to be fixed in their home countries. One on one attention. One kid at a time. We’ll help them get to the US and get healthy. Then, we’ll find a good school to help them finish their prep education (either in the US or in their home countries) and mentor them through college, and finally back home again. The back home part is key. I’m always struck when I visit new countries by how few good leaders the desperate places in the world have. Team Tassy will help change that.
Step Two: Jobs. One of the first things I wrote down in my journal on my first trip to Haiti was “If Haiti can turn trash into money=good.” They are swimming in trash, with no real way to do anything about it. So we’re starting a for profit company that will take plastic trash from the streets and turn it into polyester fabric. Companies like Patagonia have been doing it for years, but we can’t seem to find anybody who’s tried the developing world for source material. Not only can we create jobs, we can clean up an otherwise crazy dirty place. It improves public health, environmental impact, and whole host of other stuff. Most of all gives somebody used to being handed sacks of rice the dignity of being able to go buy the rice themselves. We’re just getting started, but eventually we’ll be making jackets, dresses, and shoes, all out of trash from the third world.
8. Did you go into this thinking you would just save Tassy’s life and it grew into something more future-oriented, or did you always know that once you saved his life, you’d want to help him forge a successful future?
Haha. Well, we had no idea things would get this big, we just wanted to find something cool to do to help. We always knew we wanted to help him after surgery, we just had no idea what that would look like. So many relief efforts, for lack of a better word, suck. Many times there isn’t a whole lot of thought put into helping in places like Haiti, which is why you see over 5,000 non-profits in Port-au-Prince and things not getting much better.
People donate money to crappy organizations without thinking where its going, and those donations many times cripple local economies. For example, we may donate 10 dollars, which goes to buy rice, not realizing that many times rice that’s handed out for too long after a disater puts grocers and food wholsalers out of business. The cycle of dependancy a place like Haiti gets stuck in can be so septic. We just want to focus our time on finding things that help Haiti help itself. Education and jobs. Education and Jobs. It started with Tassy. Who knows where it will go next. We’re just so excited Tass picked us to go along for the ride.