OUR HISTORY: Learn more about the history of GRODYSH – FOHO and the founder’s long standing humanitarian work in Haiti.
In Blockhauss, Haiti – situated in South-Eastern department, just west of the major city of Jacmel, Claude began sponsoring underserved youth in need of education and basic care. He noticed that there were many children in the area whose families were unable to afford local school fees, so he decided to sponsor tuition for 30 students. During the school week, Claude’s father allowed him to welcome the sponsored children into his home where they were provided with one hot meal per day.
Claude began expanding his humanitarian efforts, by collecting in-kind donations to support the academic and developmental needs of children in Blockhauss and other areas of the Sud-Est department of Haiti. He collected school supplies, books, shoes, clothing, and toys for the children in that area.
Claude established a scholarship program to provide 200 college students with tuition assistance and school supplies at local technical schools in Port-au-Prince, including JB Damier Professional School, Collège Sainte Trinité, Centre Pilote, Université Saint Gérard, and Collège Canado-Haïtien. Scholarship recipients received training to become Computer-Technicians, Teachers, Electricians, Plumbers, Stone and Tile Masons, Welderers, Auto-Mechanicians, Carpenters, Cosmetologists, Shoe Makers, and Drivers.
Claude and his two older brother’s, Harry – an Agronomic Engineer and Lyonel – a General Practitioner opened a health center named ”Dispensaire Eline Maurice” in Blockhauss, their father’s hometown. The center provided the neighborhood with basic health services, to alleviate the need for locals to travel long distances for routine care.
Together Claude, and his brothers created a group named in memory of his mother called FRELIMAU (FRaternity ELIne MAUrice) to organize and engage the population to participate in the development of their region. Inspired by the evident growth and positive impact on the community, Claude began intensifying his mission to provide education to underserved children and young adults in Cap-Haïtien, Fort-Liberté, Limbé, Anse-à-Foleur, Port-de-Paix, Gonaives, Saint-Marc, Arcahaie, Cabaret, Croix-des-Bouquets, Mirbalais, Hinche, Jacmel, Bainet, Aquin, Cayes, Camp-Perrin, Jérémie, and Anse-à-Veau.
Together they also created APPLAKAB (Association des Paysans Planteurs de cafe de Bainet), an organization established to motivate the population of Blockhauss and the surrounding area to rebuild their coffee plantations by integrating the national rehabilitation of the “Haiti Blue Mountain Gourmet Coffee” program. This program was a mixed public and private sector effort to rehabilitate the “Haitian Blue”, once considered one of the best gourmet coffees available on the international market.
With the support of friends in Port–au-Prince, Claude also started a food distribution program to assist people in need in several areas of Haiti. He constituted an ongoing fundraiser for non-perishable items that he distributed to families, concentrating this efforts in the areas of Cité Soleil, Solino, Lassaline Blockhauss, Les Cayes, Jérémie, Gonaive, Limbe, Anse-à-Foleur and Fort-Liberté.
Claude and a group of fishermen, found the ASMARPENIP (Association Maritime des Pêcheurs de la Région des Nippes), an association to coordinate, equip, and market fishing activities in this region of Nippes, Haiti. The fishermen involved, could not afford the equipment and appliances needs to refrigerate their seafood production. This limited their ability to reach regional markets; the need to sell locally made it necessary for them to sell all of their seafood fast and cheap. As a result they were living in abject misery with little chance for upward mobility; this group made it possible for them to be more efficient, raise their production and distribute on a larger market to increase profits.
Claude begins touring Haiti as a motivational speaker and life coach; he spoke at life improvement seminars to youth groups in every department and region of Haiti by partnering with local schools and universities.
1990 – 1994:
Again, with his brothers they create the association CODEB (Comité pour le Développement de Bainet), an association very active in agro-education and production of health agents. This program was designed to give a trade to the youth so they could stay in their region and serve their people by producing large amounts of food and addressing basic health issues. Over 300 hundred young men and women benefited from this training program and were able to create a better living for themselves and their families in the South Eastern regions of Haiti.
In 1993, CODEB, started a microcredit loan system to support the cultivation of vegetables in Blockhauss. At the time, peasant farmers had little to no access to any formal banking or credit system. This program helped many to remain in the agricultural food production industry; while giving CODEB a platform to encourage protection of the environment, through reforestation, maintaining clean rivers and proper use of farmland. The program was also implemented in Bainet and Cazale.
Later that year, Claude personally invested in the mountainous dry lands of Cazale, Northeast of Port-au-Prince; he transported and planted over 150,000 lime, mango, coconut, cider, mahogany, and oak trees, with the hopes that this investment would encourage young migrant workers to stay in Haiti and improve the living conditions of their region as opposed to immigrating to the Dominican Republic for the perception of a better life.
In 1994, Claude repeated the tree planting initiative in Arcahaie region of Haiti, by purchasing and distributing banana and plantain trees through the CODEB organization as an effort to rehabilitate plantations that were devastated by hurricane Gordon and season weather.
FRELIMAU distributed Kenaf seeds to peasant farmers in Blockhauss, Cazale, Les Cayes, Jérémie, Port-au-Prince to counteract hunger and starvation in regions that were devastated by natural disasters. Kenaf is a fibrous plant with edible leaves and stems that can be used to produce insulation, cloth fibers, rope, and animal bedding; its use dates back to ancient Egypt over 3000 years ago.
CODEB supervised a soil conservation and water-system protection program in the area of Bainet for the Pan American Development Fund (PADF), a large international non-governmental and non-political organization that supports development programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
FRELIMAU begins a livestock distribution program in Fort-Liberté, Limbe, Anse-à-Foleur, Arcahaie, Blockhauss, Fonds-Parisien, Kenskoff, Grand Goâve, and Aquin. Farm animals, such as chickens, goats and pigs were provided to responsible farmers as a mean to assist with the diversification of their income.
Claude started a support program named “We Are Concerned”, to support orphanages that were providing refuge to homeless children, orphans and families living in poverty. He personally funded the “We Are Concerned” program at three (3) centers:
“Les Enfants de Jesus de Prague” in Cap-Haïtien,
“Orphelinat Immaculee” in Sarthe run by Pastor Emmanuel Lazarre
“Orphelinat le bon Samaritain” in Santo 9 owned by Pastor Major Nicolas
Unfortunately, these centers were later destroyed during the 2010 earthquake. Some of these children found refuge at FOHO after their orphanages were destroyed.
FRELIMAU supporters sponsored a microloan program to transform poor parents into entrepreneurial street vendors. This program helped rehabilitate many families, by giving parents an opportunity to earn income; some were able to take their families off the street, provide better care for their children and afford to send them back to school. Approximately 1,000 parent’s participated in the program.
GROup DYnamic for the Survival of Haiti – Future of Haiti Organization (GRODYSH – FOHO_ was created to consolidate the efforts of FRELIMAU, APPLAKAB, ASMARPENIP and CODEB under the umbrella of a single organization. The initial intention was to serve as a creative hub for other like-minded humanitarians to unite and lead grassroots efforts for change in Haiti, by brainstorming ways to address the country’s most pressing needs, engage local experts, and secure funding for program implementation. This quickly expanded into program planning and implementation. The organization formed with 9 original board members.
2001 – 2002:
The GRODYSH – FOHO Haiti staff, began an educational program at Claude property in Santo 19, focusing on life improvement techniques, such as self-discipline, self-awareness and healthy communication practices. These centering activities were important for boosting team moral and providing members with the necessary tools for working with at risk communities. Often times, people lose hope when faced with challenging living conditions. Altogether, 80+ ambassadors were certified and provided with guidelines to implement the share these practices with their community.
GRODYSH – FOHO expands on the motivational speaking efforts Claude began in 1989, by traveling to major cities throughout Haiti to speak at conferences, seminars, local colleges, universities and events -coordinated by other regional organizations.
GRODYSH – FOHO continues their reforestation efforts, by distributing approximately 5,000 pounds of seeds and over 350,000 seedlings in Cazale, Fonds Parisien, Ganthier, Lêogane, Blockhauss, Baînet, Grand Goâve.
2005 – 2006:
GRODYSH – FOHO began to engage local professional to participate in their motivational speaking tours and advocacy efforts. These professionals were called upon to present and conferences for college students- designed to encourage investment in Haiti post-graduation. These conferences were largely focused on Business Development, Entrepreneurship, Education, Human Rights and Haiti’s Agriculture Industry.
A major objective for GRODYSH – FOHO has always been to provide refuge and opportunity for homeless children in Haiti; by sponsoring existing orphanages, small schools and refuge centers.
After 27 years, Claude, stops working as a Senior Telecommunications Manager and College Professor in Haiti to take on full-time leadership of GRODYSH – FOHO.
GRODYSH – FOHO was formally registered with the State of Haiti as a non-profit organization licensed and authorized to participate in all aspect of development assistance in Haiti.
The clinic in Blockhauss was officially closed due to lack of funding and human resources; Lyonel – the General Practitioner and Site Manager also relocated to the United States during the time and was no longer available to oversee the locations activities.
Following the devastating earthquake in 2010, that claimed the lives of nearly 300,000 Haitian citizens, Claude and his biological children relocated to Clearwater, Florida. His home in Haiti was transformed into a refuge center for children left homeless and orphaned by the earthquake. This includes several of the students that benefited from the “We Are Concerned” program, whose orphanages were destroyed when the earthquake hit. .
As the need for aid in Haiti quickly intensified, Claude partnered with Leslie P. Hobbs and Holly Hagerthy to register and incorporate Grodysh Int’l Inc.; this serves as the United States based parent organization to GRODYSH – FOHO in Haiti. We officially launched our website later that year.
Grodysh Int’l Inc., is granted 501 (c) 3 status.
GROSYDH-FOHO is able to formalize the homeschooling activities at Claude’s Haiti residence in Santo 19, from an earthquake refuge center into a mixed-use charter school with open admissions to low-income and poverty level students in Croix des Bouquets. That year, we successfully held a graduation ceremony for our first graduating class of Preschoolers and Kindergarten students.
In an effort to better accommodate our FOHO Campus Scholars, we constructed dormitories on site with two (2) bedrooms each, to accommodate twenty (20) children living onsite.
We completed construction of a new cafeteria on campus to accommodate our students and staff during meal times is completed. And we laid the foundation for our future school building.
After 6 years of outstanding service and dedication to GRODYSH–FOHO, Leslie Person Hobbs resigned from her position as Vice-President of Grodysh Int’l Inc.; she is kindly remembered as “Mamy Leslie” by the children she graciously served.
GRODYSH-FOHO relaunch! We launched our new website in December 2017 and look forward to a wonderful 2018.