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#152: Banking intern from Haiti needs host family (fwd)


Published Sunday, July 11, 1999, in the Miami Herald 
Banking intern from Haiti needs host family


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 strangers.
``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 increase.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