G.A.P.’s Approach to Youth Services Fills a Void in Developing Countries—Currently in Haiti
The earthquake in January of 2010 took the lives of thousands of people, and left 1.5 million homeless. G.A.P.’s founders quickly realized that most of the international aid was not directed toward adolescent youth. However, this group’s success is crucial to the success of of post-earthquake Haiti.
In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Dr. Nancy Sobel saw the tragedy on the news and knew she had to do something. Determined to make a difference, she left for Haiti. Unbeknownst to her, a fellow Californian, Matt Vecere—also touched by what he had seen—personally raised funds to purchase cases of water filters to distribute in Haiti. Their paths crossed in the overcrowded internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. They met many orphans whose parents had passed as a result of the earthquake.
They quickly realized the void in social services for these kids, and reached out. Thus, Global Adolescent Project (G.A.P.) was born.
Dr. Nancy and Matt worked tirelessly to house, feed, clothe, and educate the kids. Dr. Nancy, a licensed psychologist, worked with these kids to overcome the trauma they had suffered—the loss of their parents, friends, and homes, the smell of decay, the mass casualties. Some of these kids shut out the world, but Dr. Nancy helped them through this trauma.
Because of G.A.P., dozens of vulnerable children have a second chance and a family. They have mentors and friends in addition to access to healthcare, education, and other opportunities. Even more, they are safe. They no longer hear the screams from rapes within the IDP camps. They no longer forage for food. In a country where mental health service was never a priority, Dr. Nancy provided therapy for the children both on the ground and through innovative telepsychology.
Josianne, one of the girls reflects, “I was very scared living under a tarp in the camp. I could never sleep because it was very dangerous in the camp, especially since there were seven girls under the same tarp. We prayed that God would send someone to help us…Then one day, we met Matt and then Dr. Nancy…they helped us get from under the tarp into an apartment. Now we have food to eat, a place to sleep, and we can go to school.”
G.A.P. has been working to fully vertically integrate social services to provide vulnerable children with basic needs, education, healthcare, and extracurricular activities in a country where children were marginalized. G.A.P. has also been working to develop a social enterprise component to provide sustainable opportunities.
This June sees the first high school graduations of G.A.P.’s teens. Junior graduated with academic and athletic awards. When asked about his aspirations, he replied, “In Haiti, you have to believe in your dream. And you have to work hard for that dream. My dream is to be a doctor…I will be a doctor and I will help my people.”
To date, we have enrolled all of our kids in school with a 100% retention rate. Two years ago, 90% of our kids were living in temporary shelters under tarps in the IDP camps. Sixteen of our kids have skipped grades since enrolling in school and all of them have improved academically.
In the words of Margaret Mead, “there is no greater insight into the future than recognizing when we save our children we save ourselves.’
More About This Charity
Disaster Relief and International Aid
Global Adolescent Project (G.A.P.)
To educate, encourage resilience, and empower youth, globally.
- This Achievement alone raised $105,000
- This charity raised $83,000 in the past year
- This Achievement has helped 30 people since January 1, 2011
- 24 children enrolled school; 30 children given shelter, clothing, and food; 2 students enrolled in pre-professional nursing programs..