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Global Adolescent Project (G.A.P.) started with the courage of two teenaged girls in August 2010 in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. Jocelyne and Josianne were living under a tarp on a muddy hillside in the tent city in Petionville, a district of Port Au Prince. Up the hill from their tarp, the girls could see relief workers at the field hospital established to serve the camp, but they were unsure if they were allowed to make contact. After much debate, they gathered their nerves and slowly began to meet us, break through the language and cultural barriers and tell their story.
They were in immediate danger of being raped and trafficked as the camps were run at night by ex prisoners who had escaped when the jail broke in the quake. Through the generosity of the volunteers who pooled their spare cash, we were able to put them in an apartment and enroll them in school. In Haiti, as in many places in the developing world, school is not public and free. Teenagers who are poor do not get to go to school and they are expected to care for their families as miniature adults. Global Adolescent Project was founded in order to sustain these initial educational and safety efforts.
As we enrolled the kids in school, we found that we needed to expand our services to provide food, clothing, shelter, mental health support and job skills training. In other words, a path so that our kids will have a future. Our students have pursued training in a variety of vocations including education, cosmetology, car mechanics, hospitality, and the medical field, among others. We are incredibly proud of all that has been accomplished and are so impressed by the perseverance of the doctors, Eder and Junior and Vitiello, the engineering student as they continue their journey.
We are aware of many more youth from Haiti and other developing countries that can use our assistance and we hope to provide opportunities for them.
G.A.P. CREATE (Community for Recovery And Trauma Education) is a Global Adolescent Project initiative. G.A.P. Create emerged from the work during the hours while our youth were in school and the needs for community wide training and education in mental wellbeing became obvious. We have partnered with organizations on the ground in Haiti, and in the United States to develop training with mental health professionals, paraprofessionals and students of all ages. We use the community model developed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration called the Recovery Oriented System of Care. During the pandemic, we conducted a nationwide program of free counseling to frontline workers. Because of this work, we were awarded Nonprofit of the year by the Los Angeles County Psychological Association. We integrate existing community resources for education, training and counseling for issues of mental wellbeing, addiction and trauma resilience for people of all ages.
We strongly believe in equal opportunity for mental wellbeing.