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#140: Haitian Banking Intern Needs Hosting Family in Miami (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>

Subject: Haitian Banking Intern Needs Hosting Family in Miami

Published Sunday, July 11, 1999, in the Miami Herald 

Banking intern from Haiti needs host family
Herald Writer 

Ever since a Brickell bank decided to take on an intern from Haiti this 
summer, there has been one major setback -- finding a place for the 
intern to live.

Garry Francois, an intern from FONKOZE Haiti -- a grass-roots banking 
system that serves the poor -- will be interning at Pinebank, 1001 
Brickell Bay Dr. for eight weeks but will have no place to live when he 
arrives this week.

The chief financial officer, Jean-Marie Florestal, has been trying to 
find a host family for the past two months.

So far, a host family has not been found and Pinebank is making a public 
plea to help the 27-year-old find a Miami residence.

"We have to find a place for [Francois] to live because they don't get 
paid as an intern,'' Florestal said.

During his stay, Florestal will provide Francois with a monthly bus pass 
to get around.

His own savings, FONKOZE Haiti and FONKOZE USA will cover any expenses 
he may have during his stay.

"If we find him a host family we always hope they will provide him with 
food,'' Florestal said.

Francois, a recent computer science graduate from the University of 
Quisqueya in Port-Au-Prince, is a bit hesitant about living with 

"I'm a little bit excited and I'm somewhat worried,'' Francois said in 
a phone interview from Haiti. "I don't know who I am going to live with 
and it's a new experience.''

Francois was selected from 100 applicants for the internship by project 
director Anne Hastings, who said that finding a family who will take in 
a stranger can be difficult and even the interns worry about it.

"One of the hesitancies is that the students do not want to be a burden 
to the families they live with,'' Hastings said in a phone interview 
from Haiti. "And we explained that living with a family would be part 
of the experience.''

After the eight-week internship, Francois will spend a semester studying 
business at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

At FONKOZE -- which in Creole is an acronym for Shoulder to Shoulder, 
Francois currently earns a little under $300 per month -- that's in a 
country where the average income is less than a dollar per day. And when 
he returns in December, he'll be a supervisor and will get a pay 

Francois is required to sign a contract stating he agrees to work for 
FONKOZE for 15 months.

FONKOZE Haiti was founded in 1994 with the help of the Rev. Joseph 
Philippe and since then, the program has grown.

In January 1997, the project had 193 savings accounts totaling $78,453. 
Today it has 5,134 savings accounts totaling $594,243.

Because Francois is expected to start the internship Tuesday, the need 
for a host family is urgent.

Francois is fluent in English -- he's taught the language -- but has had 
little experience in the business world.

"When he came to us a year ago he had never had a real job,'' Hastings 
said. "Now he has a year's experience [with FONKOZE] and an internship 
with a bank in Miami.''

The qualifications for this program include graduation from the 
university and the ability to speak English.

"It's also very hard to find trained personnel,'' said Leigh Carter, 
executive director of FONKOZE USA. "That's why we have this program. 
Most of the educated people leave the country.''

Hastings added: "They need to give back to their community.''

But in the meantime, frustration follows Florestal, the Pinebank 
executive, who hasn't seen any doors open.

"I'm about to give up and raise the money instead,'' Florestal said.
e-mail: jkripalani@herald.com

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