Hello there, and welcome! I'm Lexi Namer, photographer & communications manager, and wanted to kick things off by telling my story of getting involved with Clean Hands for Haiti.
In 2013, I met founders Ray Abellard and Andre Murray in a small coffeeshop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I was a freelance photographer and web designer and had been doing some work for them on their youth sports organization, A&M Sports Academy.
We started talking about this new project they had started in Haiti. After the 2010 earthquake, they started donating barrels of supplies to help support the local community in Ray's hometown of Port au Prince.
It had only been three years, but the project had taken off and they were now providing educational scholarships and building the program which would become Clean Hands for Haiti. Although Ray grew up in Haiti and had been back many times, Dre had never been, and they were planning a trip to Port au Prince for the following spring.
Now at this point, I had only met Ray and Dre a couple of times, but I remember being so engrossed by their passion for this project and their commitment to these students that I immediately asked if they had any need for a photographer?
Just a few months later, in May 2014, after sorting out all the logistics, the three of us flew from JFK to Port au Prince. It was a whirlwind trip, filled with 18 hour days and tons of learning about where to take the organization next.
Ray and Dre spent the entire trip listening to and learning from everyone they encountered. We met some of our crew in Haiti who would wind up being longterm staff members, vital to the organization's success and operation. And I spent the week documenting, humbled that these students and their families would open their homes to me and my camera.
At the time, nearly 6 years ago, I had no idea how important of a role these kids and this organization would play in my life.
Working with Clean Hands for Haiti and getting to spend time with our students year after year is one of the greatest privileges of my life. When I first met many of them, they were 12 years old, and I have watched them grow up to be incredible young adults, succeeding in the face of great hardships.
I have seen Clean Hands for Haiti grow from the mere dreams of Ray and Dre on that first trip to a continually growing organization filled with unbelievably awesome people.
While creating this website, I was reminded of all that this organization has accomplished in less than a decade, from building a community center to starting multiple social services initiatives.
I am so beyond proud of everything this team has achieved, and it would be impossible without people like you. So thank you, thank you, thank you. For visiting this site, for learning about our mission and students, and for considering joining us.