The Bright Side Of The Blackout

Posted September 26, 2015 By Jerry Jeune

Imagine watching the world cup final game, second half just started, and suddenly, Blackout! No electricity. This has been my life for several years until inverters and generators became affordable to certain families like mine. Yet most families have not reached this level and cannot afford these tools. Interestingly I’ve noticed a strange thing about the blackout, which has surprisingly taken me to its bright side. Stick with me and in the following lines you’ll discover how bright the dark can be.

I’ve been to several places, and have seen the lack of electricity affecting people in so many different ways, that I came to realize that, too much of any blessing becomes its opposite. One should seek the right measure in all. There are, of course, many advantages of having proper access to electricity:

LIGHT
candle

Candle light is outdated and boring. I used to spend hours studying with them, and let me tell you, it is not a good experience at all. My mother always motivated us to finish our lessons before the sunset. So that we wouldn’t have to read and study by candles. The most common side effects are headache and discouragement. I’ve been to a place called Savanette, where the luckiest ones have solar panels and batteries but most live day in and day out on candles and oil lamps. There is no electrical coverage in Savanette. With proper access to electricity, School success rates will increase.

Safety & Security
Dark-street-of-Haiti

Imagine walking in a complete dark street, so dark that you tend to use your cellphone to light up your path. That’s the life of some of my friends who have to wake up at 4am to go to work. Nowadays in the metropolitan area we have sun powered street lights that are incredibly useful, but they only cover the main areas. The tiny streets where most people live aren’t covered. In the country side it is even worst! Street safety and security will increase considerably with proper access to electricity.

Business

Now you know why most businesses in Haiti only work from 8 to 5! All the money that they should’ve paid the state for electricity goes to fuel companies. So they spend more. They are ready to pay for 24hrs of electricity but the country simply cannot respond to their demand. If you want to build a business you must add an alternative source of energy to your list of equipment, and they are not cheap at all. Even boutiques need alternatives, that’s why they go for portable sun powered and rechargeable lights. With proper access to electricity private business will run easier and will be affordable to more of people.

There are many advantages I have not put here but those are the most important ones. Now, as promised let me introduce you to the bright side of the blackout. A side that most of you will understand and have even had glimpses of.

With electricity comes technologies like television, video games, radio, smartphones, laptop etc. all of these are attention catchers. We get so caught up in them that we forget life is happening away from them. Two days with a complete energy blackout would be the best cure for any of us. I’ve experienced it, and have realized that only in those moments of complete blackout, my family and I really gather together, spending some quality time that television and smartphone never allow us. I’m talking about real laugh, outside of the house, or even inside. No matter where we are, everyone seem finally present when their phone, tablet, or laptop is down. These moments are so bright that I think they would fix most family problems and conflicts.

As I said earlier too much of any blessing becomes its opposite. I would highly recommend those with a 24/7 electricity rate to spend one or two days in blackout. And those with blackout to have the blessings of experiencing the 24/7 electricity rate. For only those who can balance both will really take advantages of these technologies and make their life better in so many ways.

How To Get Stuff Done In Haiti
Posted February 2, 2016 By Jerry Jeune

Haiti is well known for its slowness, compared to other well developed countries one business year in Haiti might be worth only a month or so. It all depends on multiple factors starting from our culture to our ability to cleverly procrastinate. Today I’m going to cut it down so that you can understand its flaws and use it to your advantage.

We Haitians love when things go fast but don’t like to go fast ourselves. We work under pressure everyday yet we’re still pretty slow. Some might think that we are not serious because we never keep our word. Well we keep them, maybe one or two months late, but we still keep them! To understand all this we need to go to the core. Here are several points that will make you understand why Haiti works so slow.

The International Impact “Haiti the Republic of NGO’s

NGO-map-of-Haiti-in-January-2011

If you ask some parents they’ll tell you it was not this way in the late 70s. So why things have changed that much. Well one of the main reasons is the International Community, otherwise known as NGO’s. NGO’s have changed the Haitian economy. People who used to go to work on time and to get paid on time, have now tasted the easy money for literally doing nothing that has come with NGO’s. People used to clean their own streets, now NGO’s pay them to do so. And when you pay someone to do things they used to do for nothing, you create a lazy dependent person. Imagine if they start paying you 5 dollars each time you clean your room, you’ll be cleaning it all day long and get 40 dollars. Then when they stop paying you to clean your room, you won’t ever want to do it without getting paid. You will think that doing it without being paid is complete exploitation, when in fact paying you to do something that you were already doing for free is the actual exploitation.

Our Education

HSP-Villard

Education is the basis of literally everything because it shapes you from your earliest age and creates core habits that can benefit or sabotage your whole life. One of its flaws is its time based levels. It is structured in a way that even Einstein would have had to wait about 14 years until he could stumble upon a science book. Fortunately he didn’t. It’s not only in Haiti, I deeply think that our entire education system is a mess and that it requires a complete rebuild. Being forced to wait until you can finally do something has built comfort for laziness, which is pretty hard to get rid of.

Multi-tasking

This is the number one reason why we Haitians are terrible at getting stuff done. No one in Haiti is doing only one thing to make a living. Most of us have several income streams which is a good thing but a very tiring one when all of them are time consuming. It all started with this concept called “Brass” which means hustle. We always have something to deal, some stuff to sell, some connections to make, and a side job to work on. And without a good priority management plan (which should have been taught in school) our efficiency turns into a complete mess. With all that comes another concept called “may” (pronounced like “my”) which means a constructive lie to cover one’s self when we it do not respect our word. It’s the kind of lie that gets you out of trouble without offending anyone. It’s a pretty useful skill, but when used abusively will turn into a curse. When you postpone your delivery date 3 times, no matter how good the reason, enough is enough, we won’t deal with you anymore. And when most people and businesses are like this, it is not an easy country to invest in.

Now, How to get Stuff done in Haiti

I have summed up most of the reasons why things take so long in my country, now it’s time to deliver how to get stuff done in Haiti. The following methods are how I, my brothers, my friends and other entrepreneurs that I’ve interviewed get things done here in Haiti:

Expect a 40% time delay. Be patient.

Call or contact them often. I prefer once a week, or once every two weeks depending on the time the task should take. It may seem intrusive but when you do it well it will create a strong relationship between you and your client. Don’t ask “where’s my stuff” all the time, just find a legit reason to remind them of your work or you.

Make sure you nail every aspect of your proposal on the first meeting, otherwise this will be a legit reason for them to take time. That happens to me often, even if I always meet my clients with a perfect questionnaire, they always find a way to have a second meeting.

Make sure they have your cash in hand. It might look weird but if you have 5 contracts on hand, which one will you work on first? The one from the paid client of course. First paid, first served. Beware, this doesn’t apply to plumbers, electricians, and carpenters because they make their money on individual contracts only, so they will always say yes even if they can’t handle the deadline. You have to make them commit first, then pay 1 or 2/3, and pay the rest only when the job is done and you’re satisfied.

Make sure you sign somewhere. Whether it is a receipt or a formal contract, make sure that it mentions the amount of cash you paid, proposal details, and the exact or estimated time of delivery.

The world is constantly evolving and these words are just to help you build your plans and not to make you dismiss my country. Like every other country, Haiti has good qualities and flaws so if you want to invest in Haiti take time to learn about Haiti and above all Be Patient. It is totally worth the time and energy.