About the Prize
How the selection is made
The person/organization needs to be living or actively working in Cite Soleil
The person/organization needs to be a positive role model for other young people
The work of this person/organization needs to have a positive impact in the community
The work of this person/organization needs to be an example collaboration and participation, in the spirit of konbit
The person/organization should have some outside help, but the activities they are being honored for should be based primarily on local resources and assets
This person should not a leader that has already 'succeeded' and is well-known for their work. It should be a leader that not many people know, but who is doing positive work that people should know about.
This work should be ongoing for at least two years and reflect values of peace and social change
The person/organization should not be actively involved in any political campaigns
In 2014, Cite Soleil was experiencing a renewal of an old conflict between "Upper" and "Lower" Cite Soleil, the division marked by Route 9 that cuts Cite Soleil in half. The violence was affecting a lot of innocent civilians, and Louino 'Robi' Robillard, one of the co-founders of Solèy Leve, began noticing that a lot of promising young leaders were getting discouraged. Some were saying that it seemed like only gangsters and politicians got recognition in Cite Soleil. They wondered why they risked their lives to make small positive changes that could be destroyed in a day by people with guns. Robi realized that something had to be done to show these young people that their work was not in vain, that it was valued, and that they were the true leaders in this community.
So Robi came up with the idea of the Prim Solèy Leve, a prize that would honor the young people who represented the principles and spirit of Konbit Solèy Leve. He wanted to select people who weren't already well-established and powerful leaders, but ordinary young people who were stepping up to make a difference, but who could also use the encouragement to grow as leaders. The prize has three objectives:
1: To ensure that the young people being honored understand that people do recognize them for their actions, so they don't get discouraged and have the motivation to continue doing the hard work of community building on the ground.
2: To inspire other young people in Cite Soleil to follow the path of the honorees. Instead of just seeing young men with guns and politicians getting respect, they see young people doing positive communtiy work getting respect as well. And the honorees are just like them: ordinary young people doing extraordinary things with what they have in the community.
3: To challenge the stigma of Cite Soleil. The stereotype of young people in Cite Soleil is that they are criminals or gangsters, that they don't have much to contribute to society. This prize is a way of highlighting young people who defy that stereotype, and underlining that young people in Cite Soleil have contributions to make not just to their neighborhoods, but to Haiti as a whole.
In 2015, a Selection Committee was established that solicited nominations, evaluated the nominees, and eventually selected the honorees. Every year, 4-5 young people are selected from a pool of dozens of nominees. The selection criteria are as follows:
The honorees receive an awards plaque in a public ceremony to recognize their contributions. They do not receive cash prizes - however, some times generous individuals and organizations give practical gifts to the awardees (such as small tools, scholarships to attend English classes, etc) to help them continue and strengthen their work.