We were introduced to the gorgeous Madie last month and as soon as we met her we just knew we had to tell her story.
Madie walked through the door and her smile and bubbly personality lit up the room. We knew from that moment, she was our kinda gal. When we started chatting we found out what she does and what got her excited. Read our little Q&A below to find out the super cool stuff Madie is currently doing AND what an amazing woman she is!
RO: So Madie, what are you currently doing in Haiti?
Madie: I’m currently living in a small town in the south-western corner of Haiti, called Les Anglais. I’m working with EarthSpark International whose mission is to eradicate energy poverty. Right now our focus is on building solar microgrids in towns who have never had electricity before. I work as their Communications Associate. I’m collecting stories from the people of Les Anglais about the impact electrification has had on their lives. I’m also running our Year-End Fundraising Campaign, while learning how the microgrid works.
RO: And why is this so important to you?
Madie: I’m Haitian Australian. My mother was born in Haiti and I grew up in regional Queensland, with only the rare stories of my mother’s childhood to connect me to that part of my heritage. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt incredibly blessed by the privilege of the circumstance of my birth, and with that comes a responsibility to give when much has been given.
I suppose as an expression of that, I became increasingly curious about why some nations are more susceptible than others to instability, so I’ve made it an interest of mine to learn not just why things go wrong, but what we can do to repair or prevent those things from happening.
RO: Wow Madie, amazing! How is it going so far?
Madie: You know, I’ve thrown myself so completely into the work, it’s a little difficult to say. I guess it’s challenging working in communications when you have 2G internet access, it’s a 2hr drive to the nearest town with access. It’s hard to delve into my culture and the community I’m a part of, when I don’t speak the language. And 1 month in, I’m proud to say I’m no longer covered in my daily rash of mosquito bites.
Those small challenges aside, this town is beautiful. The mountains, the beach, the sunsets, are staggering. The community is small, but so alive, and rich with character. The people I work with have a genuine care about the community they work with. I draw water from the well each day to shower, to manually flush my toilet, and to do the dishes. The food here is so flavoursome, but I rarely get to eat meat. Fish and goat are the only meats available, but even that’s not guaranteed. I’m a voracious meat eater, so that’s been an interesting change. I also love fruit, but a year after Hurricane Matthew, the crops still haven’t quite recovered, so fruits make a rare showing at the weekly markets.
It’s a significant overhaul of every aspect of my life, and yet, it almost feels second nature. I’ve never once felt unsafe, homesick, or beyond my reach. The only developing world excesses I’m lamenting is not seeing Thor 3 and the stray KFC craving.
RO: So what did you do to get to this point?
Madie: Whether consciously or not, I’ve long nurtured a curiosity about the development of nations. I recall reading up on UN reports and studying Haiti’s history on Sunday afternoons while I was in high school. I was always a bit fiery about political issues growing up (a family trait). And that lead me to study History and International Relations at university, while participating in and interning for things like Queensland Youth Parliament and the first G20 Interfaith Summit. I must admit, the more I studied about the UN, I became disillusioned in it and my studies. I found it really difficult to continue. I pushed through and started working in media, while figuring out how I could satisfy my curiosity despite my disillusionment.
I decided I needed to go to Haiti. It would be the first time since I was 6. If nothing else, I needed to at least explore my heritage. With some hesitation from my parents, mum inparticular, I dug my heels in and went to Haiti in March of this year. By the time I’d left for Haiti, I’d already decided electrifying communities with solar microgrids was the future Haiti needed.
By the time I left Haiti, I’d written in my diary that I wanted to go back within 12 months, secure a job working partially in Haiti, partially in the US, with solar microgrids. Three months later the glow of my trip had faded, and I was despairing to my friends that I felt directionless. So they asked me what I like to google when I’m not working? What would I do if money weren’t an issue? And that I should search for a job that could cater that. I went straight home and did exactly that. Within 20 minutes I found a job listing that would have me in Haiti, this year, based in the US and Haiti, working on providing energy access to rural communities via solar microgrids. I guess you know the rest.
RO: What does living boldly mean to you?
Madie: Acknowledging fear for what it is and not letting it define you.
RO: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Madie: Tell the truth.
Your thoughts, your actions, and your interactions with others, should all be acts and expressions of truth telling. It’s the most powerful thing you can do. My father’s family crest moto reads: to be rather than to seem. Perhaps it’s old fashioned but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Thanks gorgeous Madie for being our SUPERMODEL for our Carousel collection! We can't wait to hear all the stories from Haiti when you return.
P.S. You can check all the jewels Madie is wearing HERE.