Introducing Ruth Wall-Olbrych…
It worked. It went exactly as my father had intended…. that my first trip to Haiti at the impressionable age of 12 would be impactful and shape the course of my life. As the third of four children, I was always the sensitive quiet one, feeling deeply but talking little. I returned from that first trip, marching into my small town school with a jar in hand, labeled “Haiti Fund” proceeding to solicit “donations” for the work of Grace Children’s Hospital. My father’s association with this organization in the late 60’s inspired him to spearhead a nationwide vaccination program called “Crusade Against Tuberculosis” and the eventual establishment of International Child Care in Canada.
It seemed that I had found my place in life. I went from collecting coins in a mason jar to being a Girl Friday at Grace Children’s Hospital between college semesters, to a “Constituent Services Coordinator” serving as a cultural liaison, tour guide and translator for International Child Care. I was in my element! I eventually launched a small business supporting Haitian artisans (which I continue to do) while raising three young children in Bangkok and Taichung returning to the USA in 1999.
And now here I am… accepting the position of Country Director, FIDA USA. I have had the pleasure of knowing Patrick Bentrott in his past role as FIDA USA Executive Director and participating in his superb Hike for Haiti fundraising event. I am grateful for his efforts in laying the groundwork for FIDA USA and look forward to taking it to the next level.
Haiti and her people are part of the fabric of my being. I feel it every time I am there and long after I have left. How privileged I was to host the Premier Equipment (a John Deere dealership) tour along with my sister (and FIDA/pcH Executive Director), Betsy Wall, this past March, just as COVID-19 hit the world. The mission of our parents, Jack and Anne Wall, so faithfully and earnestly begun in 1986, to invest in the poor to be able to provide for themselves, is a worthy endeavour that has impacted thousands of families. The work of FIDA/pcH as well as Wall’s International Guest House founded by my mother, continues to serve as a testament to what can be accomplished where there is purpose and vision.
I am continually humbled by the lessons learned from the proud and resilient people of a nation that is forever at the receiving end of endless political and economic repression, natural disasters and help that seems to keep them forever helpless. It is in this spirit that I join my sister in carrying forward the legacy of our parents. I look forward to engaging with you and inspiring you with stories of men and women who have been given the opportunity to rise above adversity.
Country Director, FIDA USA
121 East Lincoln Way
Jefferson, IA 50129