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If I said the word “Haiti,” what image immediately pops into your mind? For most, that image would likely be what has been portrayed in the media. Protests. Waste. Unrest.

My sorority sisters and I wanted to help change that narrative by celebrating our 10-year-anniversary as members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (Beta Alpha, Spring 2009) by creating ongoing service projects and sisterhood activities throughout the country. By celebrating such a milestone in Haiti, our goal is to increase awareness, raise funds and expose others to the rich history and beauty of the country and people — aside from what is promoted in the media. We also want to encourage travelers to make Haiti a preferred destination. We recently released a documentary highlighting our ongoing service projects and experiences throughout the country in order to drive conversations around international awareness and global impact.

Our five-day trip in Haiti was a result of our overall desire to serve others and to bring awareness to a country that has been under tense media scrutiny. When our sorority sister introduced the idea to celebrate our anniversary in her family’s homeland, we immediately jumped on the opportunity to do so. We knew her passion to curate such a cultural experience for us through her business, FloreMarie Consulting, paired with the immense pride for her country would be life-changing: which it was. We saw the opportunity to visit Haiti as a way to share the great stories of the land through our personal experiences and even conceptualized photoshoots. We saw this as an opportunity to leave our mark on the island and in the world.

Our multi-layered service projects were in the communities of Leogane and Fayette and were in partnership with two of the sorors' organizations who attended the trip, Sisterhood of the Traveling Heart, Inc. (focused on teen girl and women empowerment) and Fort Negrita, LLC (focused on sustainability and environmental awareness).

Our service projects included:

- A library makeover inclusive of interior and exterior improvements such as painting, new books and courtyard greenery at l’Ecole de la Redemption in Leogane, Haiti.

- A reusable menstrual pad workshop in the community of Fayette, where we participated in a "pad party" and hand-made economical, healthy and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional disposable menstrual products.

- A medical supply drop-off in the Fayette community, making basic first aid supplies accessible to people living remotely.

- A beach cleanup where we filled a 30-gallon bag with trash that floated ashore on the Cote de Arcadins Beach.

For our photoshoots in various locations, we strategically picked each fashion look to tie to the revolution and pride Haiti embodies. The green swimsuits with the red berets paid homage to the military forces that led Haiti to be the first Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere. The red dresses represented unity, elegance and grace; all attributes of DST and Haiti, alike.

Additionally, we wanted to highlight the tourism industry side of Haiti, so we stayed at two resorts, including the quaint Le Boucanier Beach et Resort and the beautiful Royal Decameron Indigo Beach Resort & Spa in Montrouis.

We are so grateful for this experience and we will continue efforts to support the communities in Haiti including school renovations, first aid care and the creation of reusable pads. To learn more about our efforts or to donate, visit ENT55.com/Haiti.

All photos are by Tahir Asad of Virtuous Lion Productions, LLC and Sade Askew of SadeKay Creates, LLC.