What If Part 2: Finding a Job
Since our last blog, a little more than a week ago, things in Haiti have deteriorated pretty rapidly. There have been riots/manifestations in the streets, and the U.N. just released numbers that say from January to June 30 these things have happened:
- 934 reported killings
- 680 reported kidnappings
- From July 8-12, at least 234 gang-related killings
- All these are "reported" numbers so actual numbers are probably higher.
In Haiti, there are 2 exchange rates, the official bank rate and the rate that you can find on the street. Last week, the bank rate was about 120:1 but you could get 155:1 on the street. Then, overnight, the people in Haiti who hold the vast majority of the wealth, flooded the streets with American dollars forcing the exchange rate on the street to go from 155:1 on Monday to 90:1 on Tuesday.
This did 3 things: 1. It made a few already rich Haitians much wealthier. 2. It made the single largest contributor to GDP in Haiti (remittances from the U.S.) much less valuable to Haitians who were counting on it for school expenses. 3. It made All Things New's costs related to school considerably higher and out cost of living higher for probably the next 4-5 weeks as the market regulates itself.
This leads me into the topic for today's "What If" blog about finding a job in Haiti. This topic hits close to home for 2 reasons:
1. We have focused a lot of time and energy over the past 3 years trying to figure out how to find jobs for our kids.
2. Because of our situation in America both Jess and I have found jobs that have allowed us to earn money while still allowing me to get to Haiti when necessary and still run All Things New remotely. (Jess as a teacher and me as a freelance writer and now serving on staff at a church so if you are in need of writing services let me know!)
The question is, "What if you were looking for a job in Haiti right now?"
Here are just some of the issues that you would run into:
- Intense corruption in the public services sphere.
- Lack of a market for private companies.
- People who cannot afford services that you may be able to offer them.
- An official unemployment rate of around 50% and an unofficial/underemployment rate closer to 80% in most places.
Many people ask something like, "Why do we not send our kids to learn a trade like becoming a mechanic?"
And to us, that seems logical. But think about being a mechanic in Gressier. You would be one of probably 150 mechanics in an area where there are not that many more cars, and most of the people who own a car also take care of it.
Then there is the idea of going to college, but even college does not open up all of the doors that you would think. It is also very difficult to get into one of the very few reputable schools in Port Au Prince unless you have connections and it is growing more and more difficult to get to America for school.
In America, there are job databases everywhere, and anyone who really wants a job can find one. In fact, more and more "minimum wage type" jobs are paying more like $15 or $20 per hour now. In my case, I began freelance writing just so I could keep my schedule free to go to Haiti when I needed to, and without any training in the field I was able to make money.
If you are looking for a job in Haiti, things are not that easy. Some of the smartest, most talented people we know have worked security jobs for us where they simply stand there for 12 hours a day because there is nothing else out there.
For that reason, you have to be creative, entrepreneurial, or have someone in your corner fighting for you that can help when things are hard. For most Haitians, that means selling mangoes in the market for less than a dime, driving a tap-tap or motorcycle (taxi) that probably makes you less than $5/day, or doing your best to grow the food you need to eat and hoping to find someone to help you when you need it.
Please pray for us as we try to help our kids figure out what to do next, and especially in this current environment that makes jobs even fewer and farther between. Pray that we are able to help them remotely when we really need to be there with them.
The past few years have been discouraging for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is how it has effected the job market in general and our ability to help our kids as they get closer and closer to graduating high school.