Fighting poverty with high tech: Raleigh techies head to Haiti

Reggy Liger (top photo) and P.A.C.T. participants in Haiti (Credit: Reggy Liger)

Reggy Liger is passionate about Haiti. Or more precisely, about what Haiti can become.

"I am Haitian-American," he explained. "My parents came to the States in the 80s, so they really built in us a pride in our heritage, not only here in the States but also abroad, so there's a connection there to give back."

And that giving back will be on full display once again this May.

Liger is a Cybersecurity Sales Specialist at Cisco in Raleigh. And in a few weeks, he and about a dozen of his work colleagues will travel to Haiti for the second year in a row to teach and lead people there into the world of high tech.

"We have a technical workshop where we teach advanced application of networking technologies to Haitian students and young professionals," Liger said. "We want to teach them Voice Over IP - you know, calling over the internet. We (also) teach them network security, because network security is one of the number one priorities for all customers around the globe so hackers can't get what matters most to you, your data. And this year, we're going to teach cloud computing."

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The workshop is being conducted through a program Liger created called PACT, which stands for Progress and Accelerated Change through Technology. He said it's an acronym with a double meaning.

"A pact is a signed agreement between two parties. I wanted to promise to Haiti that this is not going to be some feel-good story. We made a promise to you that we are going to help accelerate your country forward, do it with the young leaders that you have."

It's an impressive promise from this Georgia Tech grad who hasn't quite reached 30. But Liger is used to big challenges and big goals.

In 2009, while still in college, he and his brother Farrel started "Foundation of the World," with its lofty vision of "a world free from poverty."

The Foundation organizes service projects, initiatives, and workshops such the PACT program in Haiti.

More than 100 Haitians have signed up to attend this year's four-day tech training session in May.

Liger believes technology can help lead that country - consistently ranked among the poorest in the western hemisphere - out of that poverty.

"We don't want to measure their success by what we're doing in the United States," he said. "Haiti is not the United States. Haiti is not France. We want to teach them how to fish versus fishing for them. Because if you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day but if you teach him how to fish he'll eat for a lifetime."

Reggy Liger's organization would love to partner with other businesses and individuals with similar goals. If you'd like more info, you can find out more at their website.
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