By Mindji K. Thesalus | Shashamane Sunrise Volunteer, Translator
November 22, 2017
It began three years ago while I was working at the Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport in Haiti. I saw a tall man with dreadlocks in the line smiling at me. After doing his bag checks, he gave me a business card and invited me to volunteer for his non-profit, Shashamane Sunrise. Curious as I am, I did my research to find out what is Shashamane Sunrise…
So, what is it? Shashamane Sunrise is non-profit organization founded in 2005 which supports children’s education in the developing world, with a focus on remote schools in Africa and the Caribbean. It is on a mission to help create healthy learning environments where children have access to the educational resources and mentorship they need to achieve their academic goals.
My experience with Shashamane began in May 2016, when Dr Rene Williamson invited me to the Shash Haiti Tour to visit a primary school that they were helping to building, the Marion School at Corail in Grand’Anse located in the southern Haiti, to deliver school supplies. It was an exhausting day of travel because the roads leading to this remote village were badly damaged. This was also when I met Wendy Fitzwilliam, Miss Universe 1998 from Trinidad and Tobago, and other Shash volunteers. We were warmly welcomed to the home of Principal Waldinor. Indeed, it was an amazing day which I thoroughly enjoyed, leaving having learned and experienced what Shashamane Sunrise does and visiting this new place.
In October 2016, just after Hurricane Matthew damaged southern Haiti, Shash came to help with hurricane relief where we worked with the Edeyo Foundation and Marjorie Jean. By that time, I had met Suzana Sampeur, Miss World Haiti 2016, for an interview and invited her to join Shash. Two months later we met Raquel Pelissier, Miss Universe Haiti 2016, to present her our project and she was keen on joining our organization. She quickly became involved in our work, visiting the Marion School to deliver school supplies to students. Raquel went on to become first runner-up in Miss Universe 2016 and now serves as a Shash Global Ambassador from Haiti. She has brought her network to assist with efforts in Haiti such as MSC Plus, Jean Robert Bellande and Mokafe. Raquel is the author of The Art of Being Your Beautiful Self; part proceeds from its sales go towards the Shashamane project in Haiti.
Through Shashamane Sunrise, I was reminded to “give not because I have so much, but because I know exactly the feeling of having nothing.” All my life I have been helping and giving to others, but I have learned the most from my experience with Shashamane Sunrise. I would like to thank Dr Z for asking me to join Shashamane Sunrise. I am very happy to be apart of the magnificent work we are doing and the change we have effected in the life of so many young people.
Mindji Kencia Thesalus is a linguist and translator with more than five years’ experience and a Shashamane Sunrise Volunteer. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Linguistics.