The value of volunteering and social innovation

If Phillip Rincon MA ’09 had one piece of advice to share with FIU students it’s to volunteer.

“Seek ways to broaden your understanding and increase your knowledge of social issues that affect others,” he notes. “Consider volunteer work during your studies at FIU as a way to put your education into practice and as a contributing factor to the building of a much greater society.”

During his last semester at FIU is when Phillip started his philanthropic work in Haiti. He assisted a friend in implementing a project proposal for rooftop gardens in Cap-Haïtien. This proposal then lent itself to the creation of Bochika.

Bochika is a non-profit organization that envisions a “world built upon self-empowered, self-sustaining communities”. They seek to provide needed training, tools and technology to local organizations that are working to address the needs within their own communities.

It was after the earthquake in 2010 that Bochika moved its food security project to Port au Prince, Haiti. There, they partnered with a local youth community and learning center called SAKALA.

Haiti 2015 409“By partnering with SAKALA, we were instrumental in creating one of the largest urban agricultural gardens in Cité Soleil,” Phillip shares. “Today, SAKALA uses the garden, now an agricultural learning center, as a means to teach the youth in Cité Soleil about peace and food security.”

Phillip is proud to share that the program has won major awards globally.

Currently Phillip is not only the Executive Director of Bochika, he is also the Resource Developer at Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Program where he works with local partners to help meet the immediate needs of newly arrived refugees.

When it comes to social innovation, Phillip highlights the value of local leaders and the importance of their guidance.

Include them in the process and consult with them; make sure whatever project is being done or technology is being created will truly help the community you’re trying to reach.

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