Always Employed

Mackenzie Andrè entered Louverture Cleary School at age 13. He's been working hard ever since. 

Mackenzie Andrè has held a job from the day he received his diploma from Louverture Cleary School (LCS) in 1999. In a country where the percentage of people either unemployed or scraping by in the informal economy was recently estimated at around 75% byThe Economist, Andrè’s story is astounding. He credits LCS, a tuition-free secondary boarding school owned and operated by The Haitian Project and located just outside of Port au Prince for his success. “Every day I remind myself that I am who I am today because of LCS,” he said with his characteristic, charming smile, “LCS taught me how to collaborate with others, how to set an objective and achieve it.”

After earning his degree in Management and Economic Sciences, Andrè went to work for a number of Haiti’s largest textile companies, holding several high-level managerial positions.  In 2009 Andrè was offered a job to work as a floor manager. Andrè remembers his boss calling him into his office. “He looked at me and said, ‘I believe in LCS and I believe in you.’” The company was having problems with employee fraud and needed a man of integrity to right the ship. Andrè cleaned things up and implemented a system that guarded against corruption. LCS’s mission to provide a free education for the youth of Haiti has endowed him not only with an education, but also with a holistic formation of character.

Following the 2010 earthquake, Andrè went to work for Catholic Relief Services, taking charge of one of the largest refugee camps in Haiti, the Petionville Club, now managed by Sean Penn. As the deputy camp manager, he worked to provide essentials to the people of the camp, “I was in charge of food, and Sean Penn handled the medical needs.” And, as always, Andrè drew on his LCS experience.  “I used my experience working cleanup at LCS to run the camp. I knew from LCS that I needed to participate in everything, to help people realize that I was working with them, that we are equals working for our community, and if you do not work, you do not eat.”

As his work with CRS came to an end, Andrè worked to make the difficult transition back into the private sector. In Haiti, International Non-Governmental Organizations [INGOs] operate on an international pay scale far exceeding that of the local economy. “This transition is difficult even with a thriving Haitian economy,” said Deacon Patrick Moynihan, President of THP, “Jobs in the private sector that pay even close to the rate of the INGOs are hard to find.”

Despite the slim odds, Andrè landed a great job with TOPCO, a Haitian owned and operated food import and manufacturing company. TOPCO is vertically integrated as far as Canada and very innovative. Andrè manages local and imported sales as well as marketing and promotion for their product Zin. Lucien G. Rousseau, President of TOPCO-Haiti, knows Louverture Cleary and sees the school’s mission embodied in Andrè. “Andrè is a concrete example of LCS's participation in the formation of youth, helping them to take their destiny into their own hands.”

For Rousseau, Andrè stands out, not only among LCS graduates but also in a global work force. “Andrè's attitude is proactive,” he notes. “His approach to life is completely different from most people his age. Andrè doesn't wait for good things to just appear, he's always looking for ways to be the change he hopes to see. ”

None of what he has been given is lost on Andrè, “I do not know how I can thank LCS for all that they have done for me.” Andrè said shaking his head, “They supported me and educated me and they showed me how to be a good father and a good husband,” he continued with earnestness, “It is my dream that my daughter can one day attend Louverture Cleary.” Fortunately, because of Andrè’s determination, his education and continued success at work, his daughter is unlikely to need the free education LCS offers.

Andrè knows what LCS can do for Haiti, and believes that if LCS keeps educating and keeps growing, there will be hope for Haiti, “I pray every day for LCS, that they will be able to build another school and continue to help the youth of Haiti, because I know with LCS Haiti has a chance.”

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The Haitian Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that runs a tuition free Catholic boarding school in Haiti for 360 students in order to nurture the future leaders of the country.  Visit their website www.haitianproject.org for more information or donate now.