Why we must remain hand in hand with Haiti

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I’m at Toussaint Louverture Airport in Port au Prince, Haiti, flying back from an unforgettable experience at the Lycée Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable, the wondrous, world-class school inspired by and funded by the belief and commitment of the travel retail industry.

I’ve spent several great days with the inspirational Olivier Bottrie, President, Travel Retailing Worldwide of Estée Lauder Companies but more importantly (at least in this context) the driving force (along with ex-DFS Chairman Ed Brennan) behind the charity that created the school, Hand in Hand for Haiti,

As I reflect on a momentous few days it’s time for a cold bottle of the local beer, ‘Prestige’, at the airport canteen, then the long journey home via Miami International. It’s 5 years since I was last here, just after the earthquake. I was struck down with stomach cancer weeks later and never had the chance to visit what I helped create. Until now. I am a blessed man to have the opportunity to return. Our school stands as a role model (actually I think THE role model) of responsible, controlled, carefully managed fund-raising and reconstruction.


So much foreign aid was wasted here after the quake. Not a cent of our industry’s massive contribution was. And you know, 80% (next year 90%) of the kids come from poor backgrounds. The job’s not over. Far from it. We need to sustain its upkeep for years to come – there’s no-one here to take over.

Please, if you will, take a look into the eyes of the beautiful young children below. It tells you everything you need to know. Rejuvenation of a country starts with hope. Hope starts with education. Education starts with the young. Haiti, one hour from Miami, yet the most impoverished nation in the western Hemisphere. Let’s stand, as our charity is called, Hand in Hand with Haiti.








[This image shows all the school’s current 300 pupils]haiti_lest_we_forget

[Let’s not forget why we built the school in Haiti. Just over five years ago, over 200,000 people lost their lives here, including these students and a teacher from the wonderful Lycee (school) Alexandre Dumas in Port au Prince’]

haiti_message haiti_ob_and_am

[French Ambassador to Haiti Elisabeth Beton Delegue and Olivier Bottrie meet our school’s children and teachers]





[The class of 2015 – 300 kids, mostly from poor backgrounds, given the chance of education they would never have had]


[There’s 12563 kilometers or 7806 miles between Dubai and Haiti. But you wouldn’t know it when you visit the Hand in Hand for Haiti school in Saint Marc, Lycée Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable. Dubai Duty Free was the lead funder in creating a world-class sports complex for kids (80% of whom come from poverty-stricken backgrounds) who would not even know the meaning of privilege. Bravo Dubai Duty Free, bravo the travel retail industry for what you have created here at this great school.]