It is not often that tragedy is deeply understood a thousand miles away but for James Toussaint on the evening of January the 12th in 2010 as he watched the news he felt his heart begin to sink. The headlines running through every major channel that night displayed a scene of destruction as he watched the cities he knew in his homeland of Haiti become torn asunder by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake near the town of Léogâne and other surrounding areas. When watching television that night James tried to take his eyes away from the screen but couldn’t bring himself to do it. His mind raced for hours as he watched the spectacle unfold before him while the body count increased hour by hour. It was all happening so fast that even the media couldn’t keep up with the frenzy. For James it was an assault on his senses. Everything he knew was being taken from him.
In the subsequent fortnight following the initial earthquake the country of Haiti was struck by an additional fifty earthquake aftershocks measuring 4.5 in magnitude or greater. By the end of it all an estimated three million people were affected by the quake. The death toll had increased to well over one hundred thousand people and everything was in disarray. From thousands of residences to commercial buildings there was a sense of severe ruin left in the wake of this catastrophic earthquake. It is an emptiness the country would carry with it when James decided to finally make his way over two years later to provide aid for those in need.
This brings the story back to James now however as he stayed up late that night and began plotting his way to bring about change. He didn’t know how at the time but James realized that he needed to find his way home. Having been involved in many global organizations such as Disabled American Veterans, ONE, Life Outreach International and Christians United in Support Of Israel he was no stranger to helping others. That is why initially when the news broke about the earthquake James had wanted to leave immediately to go over and find ways to help but he quickly realized that he was still needed in America. At this time we were in the midst of our nationwide recession and James made it a point to first complete the job he had begun here by continuing to get people back to work in Florida through empowering his local communities. This was a skill he had honed over his years and one he intended to apply to Haiti down the line.
With that said the economic revival in America took time but after finally reaching a point where he felt that he could put this task on hold James eventually set his focus back on Haiti in 2012. By this time the outpour of relief was in full swing flowing into the country. Volunteers from around the world were rolling up their sleeves and James decided to enlist in the cause too. He traveled back to Haiti at which point he participated in various non-profit organizations such as Love A Child where he helped to build a food distribution center. He also participated in Danita’s Children where he helped to rescue impoverish children who were displaced by the earthquake and left without any resources or a home. It was through those opportunities that James realized that this is exactly where he needed to be. He felt the constant internal need to do more with helping others as he worked to revitalize his home country.
This isn’t to illustrate the whole story however. Fast forwarding through countless of hours of volunteer labor and years of international assistance James still believes Haiti has a long ways to go. Living back in America again he believes that it is easy to speak about the subject without understanding the underlying reality of where Haiti stands even at present day. Despite the advances it has seen for seven years now Haiti still faces struggles that it has carried with it since that nationwide disaster. From the beginning of the earthquake to this very moment corruption, looting and violence have continued on the streets as fear and self preservation have surpassed the need for human compassion. It is for that reason James has reconciled the reality within himself that Haiti still needs help and that’s why he chooses to continue believing in his homeland. He chooses to believe because he hasn’t given up hope. This is what lead James to formulate his current plan. By giving back the only way he knew how, through community empowerment.
Understanding that there remains a great disconnect in the country James has taken it upon himself to try and supply an answer to a question that is hard to define. The question of unity and prosperity. He hopes to do so by creating a tool which people will be able to access across the globe. In his eyes he calls it WELAW (or Web Enabled Labor in Haiti and Around the World) where its goal is to hopefully unite a country which hasn’t seen any sense of harmony since its disruption back in 2010. James understands that things definitely weren’t perfect before but he hopes to restore some faith in his homeland with the creation of WELAW. James hopes to create a community where not-for-profit organizations, investors, christians, businessmen, and students can meet in order to begin constructing a better future with humanitarian goals in mind. In creating this James hopes to cultivate students to reach out for scholarships while developing businesses to reach larger audiences. Most importantly though James is doing this to give his country the voice it so badly needs.
To this day James still feels the love with Haiti and can see the beauty beneath the rubble which lies behind the years of devastation. It is a small island he still calls home yet there are many people needing assistance each and every day. That is why James is determined to be that assistance with WELAW as he hopes to draw people toward a common goal of empowerment so everyone can understand that they even when things may appear hopeless in this world there is in fact still hope. You just have to be able to seek out the virtue that lies underneath and find the strength in your community to pursue it. For that reason James hopes to apply his lifetime talent of empowering people because when there is a purpose to living James believes that people can truly begin to find hope.