Haiti Illuminated the History of Humanity and of Human Rights. 

Le Flambeau Foundation , Inc., February 27, 2024.

We’re thrilled to have launched a new series that amplifies the voices of our Le Flambeau Foundation Board of Directors! Each member brings a unique perspective, shaped by their personal connection to Haiti and a story waiting to be shared. Their unwavering dedication to our mission is further fueled by their firsthand understanding of the transformative power of education for Haitian youth.

Dive into the series with our first article, authored by  the Le Flambeau Foundation Board Director Andrew Holman. His insights are sure to inspire you. Take a read…


Andrew Holman

“Two hundred years ago, Haiti illuminated the history of humanity and of human rights.  Now we must give Haitians the chance to confirm that vision.” Ricardo Seitenfus

This is a story of how Haiti has great meaning in my life both past, present and future.  My connection to Haiti started when I was a high school student.  My adventurous mother decided that my sister and I should go with her during Christmas break for a short vacation to the island of Haiti.  So off we went in December 1967 on my first trip outside of the US or Canada.  When we arrived at the airport in Port-au-Prince I knew the trip was going to be different.  That was the time of the dictator Francois Duvalier known as  “Papa Doc” and his large painted portrait was very apparent on our drive from the airport as were his Tontons Macoutes militia walking around with what looked like machine guns.

Rhum Barbancourt Distillery in Haiti – photo taken by Holman in 1967, in Haiti.

We stayed in a wonderful hotel in Petionville with a great view above the city.  I  was able to walk up into the hills from there to look at the environment and meet people. We also spent time in the central city at the main market and looking at beautiful art on exhibit in shops nearby.  It was an intense experience as I had some culture shock having not experienced markets, militia, or people transporting goods on their heads when needed.  Yet the culture shock was tempered by the friendliness of the people we met and their resiliency to getting by under the shadow of a dictatorship.

By the end of the week, our stay also included going to a local voodoo ceremony near our hotel, visiting an ocean estate with a wealthy ex-pat from France (and seeing Haitian wealth disparity)  and learning about the process of rum at Rhum Barbancourt.   I returned home with a changed view of the world.

Many years later I became connected to the Le Flambeau Foundation as an accounting advisor through a Milwaukee attorney who knew of my work with nonprofits.  Over a few years that relationship developed into becoming a board director.  As part of that process I was able to revisit Haiti some 50 years later with other  members of the board.  This time it was not Port-au-Prince but the north of Haiti in Cap-Haitien.  We were able to meet some of the youth leaders that have been helped by the Le Flambeau Foundation (LFF) and also had a comprehensive tour of the Citadelle which I had always wanted to visit after hearing about it  when I first visited Haiti many years before.  Many things had changed in the years between my two trips.  Haiti was no longer ruled by a dictator, there had been a devastating earthquake in 2010 and non-governmental organizations had proliferated to several hundred.  But the friendliness and resiliency of people was as noticeable as before, along with the need to provide more opportunities.

In the intervening years, many resources had gone into Haiti but it was clear that while local people may have been the recipients of some of the aid and charity, few seem to have benefited from the ability to control their own destiny and become leaders and active participants in their own futures. That is why I am glad to be a board member and to support the Le Flambeau Foundation where the focus is on the future of Haiti and helping youth to become those future leaders that will make a difference.

Andrew Holman


### How to Get Involved

There are a number of ways to get involved with the  Le Flambeau Foundation  . As a supporter, you can donate to the foundation, volunteer your time, or become a mentor to a young person in Haiti.  Feel free to contact us by clicking here.