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A Gleam of Hope for Children in Haiti

How donated technology laid the foundation to rebuild

Gleam of Hope children 
Jim Lynch - May 09, 2013
After the devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, among the ruins was the small orphanage Gleam of Hope. Through TechSoup, the orphanage was able to receive donated state-of-the-art technology products to help it address the critical needs of earthquake survivors in Haiti. 

Located in Petit-Goave, Haiti — about 50 miles from Port-au-Prince — the nonprofit Gleam of Hope was founded in 2005 by the Dupiche family, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in the 1980s. Prior to the earthquake, Gleam of Hope's small orphanage had been housing about 50 children in need.

While no orphans were seriously hurt in the quake, their shelter had been completely destroyed. The children and their caretakers were forced to move into a small church classroom as international relief and aid volunteers scrambled to rebuild the surrounding countryside.

Herve Dupiche had been running the orphanage from Pennsylvania on a very modest budget, funded mostly through local church community donations. Following the earthquake, he and the Gleam of Hope all-volunteer U.S. staff stepped up their engagement dramatically, launching a $140,000 capital campaign to rebuild the orphanage. They also needed to mobilize resources to ship much-needed supplies to the region — not just for "their" children, but for all the people of Petit-Goave, many of whom are still living in tents.

Accelerate Impact in the Wake of a Disaster

Dupiche knew that he needed better technology infrastructure to manage and support the increased fundraising and volunteer efforts. Among the many priorities, Gleam of Hope needed a more efficient way to manage their accounts, coordinate and acknowledge volunteers and donors, and organize activities across different time zones and geographies. He knew there were tools that could help tighten up their operations to help bring some relief to the region, but he felt overwhelmed. Which products would best serve their needs? And could he divert the tens of thousands of dollars such improvements would cost when there was so much need on the ground in Haiti?

Fortunately, Dupiche found TechSoup. Through TechSoup, Gleam of Hope could receive donated state-of-the-art technology products and services to help them address the critical needs of the earthquake survivors in Haiti. Just as important for Dupiche, the charity could also get in-depth advice from IT experts – and they could hear from other small NGOs about which products worked best and how they used them.

Technology

Dupiche knew they could no longer keep track of the burgeoning donations and pledges using a combination of Excel spreadsheets and handwritten notes. Through TechSoup, Gleam of Hope received technology donations that helped with everything from fundraising and accounting to volunteer management, document sharing and backup, and online collaboration (see list below).

TechSoup also helped Gleam of Hope solve some less straightforward IT challenges. A retired shoemaker from Florida donated several boxes of shoes, but none of them were the right size for the children. Gleam of Hope plans to use Shopify to create an online store to sell the shoes and raise more money toward rebuilding the orphanage.

Gleam of Hope urgently needed a more sophisticated website – a need shared by many small charities served by TechSoup. They needed to let potential donors know about the needs of the children in the orphanage and of the people in Petit-Goave, and to communicate how the capital campaign and other donations would address these needs. Dupiche knew they could no longer achieve this using different versions of trial software. Through TechSoup, they received a donated license for Adobe Creative Suite and are currently building their new website using Adobe Dreamweaver.

TechSoup also helped Gleam of Hope obtain Citrix GoToMeeting, which allows them to meet online and on the go. Dupiche says, "We have members in Haiti, Pennsylvania, Chicago, friends and supporters across the country. I cannot imagine what our phone bill would be without GoToMeeting. The money we save goes toward the children's needs."

Their profile raised through a more polished web presence and a more active community, Gleam of Hope has recently attracted distinguished new supporters, such as Wells Fargo Bank, the Lexis Nexis matching gift program, and Merck Pharmaceuticals. They still rely on individual donations and strong volunteers as well — but they are better able to reach them using the new tools and systems donated through TechSoup. Though proud of their progress, Dupiche was quick to point out that they still have a long way to go to get the roof on their new building by the end of 2013. Supporters can make a donation online at this link.

"Bay ak tout ke-ou, fe plis ak men-ou"

This expression, translated from Haitian Creole, means, "Give with your whole heart, and do even more with your hands." For Dupiche, this expression underscores why he feels compelled to do this work — and to strive for improvements and efficiencies to achieve even greater impact in Haiti. All in all, Gleam of Hope received an estimated $18,000 worth of donated technology products, allowing them to professionalize, streamline, and extend their reach and impact. According to Dupiche, the savings were nearly enough to construct the foundation of the building for the orphanage. Now Gleam of Hope also has two teachers, a cook and housekeeper, and a construction crew drawn from local residents in Haiti.

Could your organization save time and money by getting rid of those cumbersome paper files, updating your software or hardware, and streamlining clunky systems? Take a look at some of the donated products Gleam of Hope used.

The Technology They Used

Video: Produced by Ale Bezdikian, Global Content & Community Coordinator at TechSoup Global