Their words are similar to a great source of energy shinning brilliantly through your computer screen or flat screen phone. Their pictures carry messages for you to keep on with the fight. They remind you to do what it takes to make those dreams come true, it reassure you to be proud of your little steps. It preach acceptance toward yourself and other young women around us. They are a young Haitian organisation whose purpose is to empower young girls through women and help them realize how beautiful they are inside and out. They communicate these powerful and heartfelt messages to their lovely audience throughout their online blog, their FB page and their videos. The name of this organisation is ‘Bel Neges’ which is Haitian-Creole for “Beautiful Woman”.
They usually organize 2 activities through the year where important personalities in Haiti comes in and have this sort of chit chat session with the ladies. There are acoustic performances by artists who reflect the organisation’s purpose. However this year they went a little bit deeper when they announced a week-end retreat in the mountain at Le Montcel Ranch in Haiti
I am going to be a little biased but this organisation is something that Haitian women needed so much. Some of us had to re-build our self-esteem because we were teased, we were bullied a lot as we were growing up. Although these ugly traits will be around for awhile in the world I believe that it’s important for young women to build a tough skin so they can be unshaken and unmoved when bullies and the obstacles of life strikes. If you are Haitian, or you are Haitian descent living abroad, I encourage you to go take a look at their blog and take a look at their Facebook wall. You will see the testimonies of so many young women who feels as if this organisation is playing a good role in their lives for them to be the best they can be. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to reserve and confirm my spot at the retreat once the directions were given. I knew it would be nothing short of amazing. I could seat all day and explain my short journey with Bel Neges but I would rather paint in pictures and words and present in small doses hoow this retreat went.
I believe that we were in total of 80 girls who came to this retreat. We were broken up into groups of 5 so we could all rotate to our activities respectively, there were groups A, B, C, D and E. We had activities to keep us at our toes and these activities were :1-Sexual Health, 2-Self Defense, 3-Hair and Make-Up maintenance,4-Eating healthier and 5-Zumba. Before we all started with the activities, we were all gathered in this sort of porch located in the middle of the ranch. Christina Julme; founder of Bel Neges, introduced us to her team and explained a bit why she chose the title “Nan Mwen” (which is ‘Within Me’ in Haitian Creole) for the retreat. She realizes that people have said the title didn’t sound too pretty in their ears but she convinced them that she wanted to go beyond something that sounded pretty. She followed on and said that we all have capacities within us to reach our goals and dreams. She added this encouragement in all of us and said that we were are all capable to become strong women with our mind, body and soul.
As you’re reading this, I don’t want you to believe these sentences were cliches, let me tell you that we had these activities to reflect the message that was the main purpose of this retreat. I feel like one thing linked all of these activities together, HEALTH because honestly if you’re not feeling well, you will have so much difficulties to accomplish things. After we got out all of our energies through these activities, we had 2 major conferences with 4 wonderful guest speakers who are professionals working besides girls and women to help them become independent. They talked about the importance of the independency of Haitian women, the obstacles they are facing in our society and insight of their experiences on the field of work. Through the conference, I was able to see that everyone were focus even if they were tired from the previous activities. But even through the signs of fighting sleep to stay awake and tiredness, you could tell no one regretted to be there. Because we were in groups, all I could see and hear were laughter, girls taking selfies everywhere, meeting new friends, embracing the fog from the mountains and enjoying the cool weather before we head back to our reality.
In conclusion, I am so delighted to know that this retreat was organised by young Haitian leaders and I am happy to know that nothing great ever happen overnight. I like seeing progress from day 1 to day 2…and quite honestly it doesn’t work that way but I’ve managed to appreciate my little steps. Even after several years later, everyone will remember this retreat and who knows some of us will go as far as being inspired and help the girls in our community based on what we have learn at this retreat.
It’s nothing but love