I was thrilled when my employer, Accenture, selected me to work on the NetHope Academy engagement in Haiti. Employee consulting time was donated as part of Accenture’s response to the devastating 2010 earthquake, and several projects in Haiti were completed via the nonprofit branch of our firm, Accenture Development Partnerships. I work as a technology architecture manager in our Mobile Solutions practice, and the chance to use my program management skills to help in Haiti was a dream come true. The opportunity to work with unemployed youth and the Academy’s focus on young women was especially appealing. Every one of these young people had their own story, but I was struck by a quiet, incredibly hardworking young lady named Emmanuella.
Emmanuella Stimphat grew up with her five brothers and sisters in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood called Bourdon. She was a quick learner and had a knack for graphic design, so it was no surprise that her parents and siblings encouraged her to explore a career in technology.
At first, Emmanuella considered attending a secretarial school after high school; it was a common path for Haitian girls her age. But in the end, she decided to pursue a computer science degree at a top university instead. She began studying for her master’s degree at Ecole Supérieure d´Infotronique d´Haiti, one of Haiti’s leading technology schools.
On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince and its surrounding area, and Emmanuella lost almost everything. Emmanuella’s home crumbled, and her mother was severely injured. Sadly, her mother passed away two weeks after the earthquake. Her school was destroyed as well, and Emmanuella traveled with the rest of her family to stay with her aunt in Florida.
Emmanuella grew homesick quickly and returned to Haiti in June. Upon return, a new opportunity caught her interest — the NetHope Academy. She applied online to be one of the 39 participants in the six-month IT training program.
The top 80 out of 291 applicants were invited to take a technical assessment and to be interviewed by IT managers working at some of the world’s largest humanitarian organizations.
Overcoming long odds, Emmanuella was selected to fill one of the highly coveted slots. She came highly recommended by her interviewer as someone who was “somewhat reserved but absolutely perfect for the program.”
The NetHope Academy provides computer science students with technical skills as well as on-the-job experience. After the training portion of the program, each student is placed in a paid IT internship with a host organization, where they are paired with an IT mentor.
Emmanuella interned for Save the Children’s IT department in Port-au-Prince. Her internship allowed her to gain real-world IT experience, as well as confirm a woman’s potential in the IT profession. Emmanuella advertised her willingness to solve any problem from the start of her internship; she gained the Save the Children staff’s trust as a result. She was able to show her colleagues that she has no problem resolving some of the more complex computer and printer issues.
Emmanuella continues studying as she prepares for her Windows 7 certification. Her long-term goal is to be an IT manager.
Each month, NetHope polls the interns and their IT mentors to stay on top of how the program is going. Emmanuella wrote, “I like my Save the Children co-workers and I think they like me.” Emmanuella, they most certainly do!