Delgarde at work in Haiti for Global Paints for Charity, Inc.
Kreyolicious: Every non-profit initiative had a beginning, usually with the founder or one of the founders having an epiphany of sort. Was there a particular moment that sparked your founding Global Paints?
Excellent question! On my very first day in the U.S, I landed at the Miami International Airport. I couldn’t believe what I saw that day. “This is a perfect adventure”, I said. I thought it’s remarkably beautiful to see a city where all houses and tall buildings were painted with amazing colors. But I was first inspired to collect paint in March 2010, when I took a trip to Kenya and Uganda to help donate basic health supplies and nutrition kits to mothers in the refugee camps. That’s where I realized the need to beautify global housing projects in the region. And I immediately started collecting paint after that Africa trip. In fact, I was shocked just to know how many gallons of paint were thrown away in the U.S. According to the industry sources, every resident in America has 4-to-5 gallons of leftover paint in their basement. More than one billion gallons of paint are sold for commercial use. Ten percent of that goes unused or ends up in landfills every year. Each year, hundreds of millions of gallons of paint are discarded in North America alone. Are we really throwing away that much paint at the expense of other people who don’t have anything? It just didn’t sound right.
When I started, I picked up all paint donations myself; I have gone to residences and businesses as far away from Atlanta as Macon and Savannah, Georgia to collect paint. Today as many as 500-to-6000 gallons of paint have been shipped at a time to developing countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, Guyana, Guinea, Ghana and Mexico. The paint has been used for housing rehabilitation projects including family homes, hospitals, schools, churches, and orphanages.
Would love to hear more about the work of Global Paints for Charity, Inc in Haiti. What has the organization achieved so far on the island?
Global Paints is fully involved in many regions in Haiti. Just last year, as part of , I was invited to paint a wall, and I spoke at the official open ceremony and celebration on November 17, 2013. It was like a dream comes true. Moreover, Global Paint donated paint to support many rehabilitation projects in different regions in Haiti. We also sent some paints to those affected by the 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and left million others homeless in Haiti. And we recently nominated Nadege Telfort, one of the leading actresses based in Haiti, as Goodwill Ambassador. She is taking on the mission to provide high quality of paint to renovate schools, orphanages, hospitals, prisons and family homes in Haiti. In fact, one of my future goals is to build a paint manufacturer in Haiti. We recently opened a small paint processing center in Honduras and it is contributing to the beautification in the entire Central America. I believe we should do the same in Haiti without competing with the local paint companies
Above: Doing rehabilitative work at King Henri Christophe’s architectural wonder La Citadelle Lafèrrière in Cap Haitien, Haiti.
Kreyolicious: You received an award as AllState Champion for Good, a prestigious award for agents of change. What is the one change that you made to your life between the end of your high school years to now, that has made the biggest difference to your life?
Oh my goodness! Thank you. I am very blessed to be able to beat the odds. My ability to help others to understand the role their work and skills can play in problem solving is one of the many reasons I have received the award as 2013 AllState Champion for Good. Add to that my words of being a voice for the voiceless through my noble work of giving back, including dedicating my life to changing the lives of vulnerable people around the world. Also, I have experienced more than anyone should ever experience. English is not my first language and I have been struggling ever since I have move in the States. More pain, more turmoil, more humiliation, more strife and more need than most of people could even begin to imagine. But, when I was offered an opportunity, even as a volunteer, I also saw another opportunity; the opportunity of turning waste into hope – and change lives. The biggest changes in my life is that I have associated with people that can inspire me, people that have challenged me to rise higher, people that make me better. I don’t waste my valuable time with people that are not adding to my growth. My time is too crucial.
I started this organization in my one bedroom apartment; now we’re in a factory and known by a lot of people in the development community. There’s nothing as powerful as a small idea that has the ability to change the lives of people around the world.
Global Paints for Charity at work in Honduras.
Kreyolicious: What advice would you give to others on leadership and success?
Always make sure what you are providing is something that is going to help the people in need. If you plan to start your own organization, you need to be absolutely committed to and happy with what you are doing. If you’re not happy to take on the challenges that come with starting your own organization, you will not do a good job of helping others. If you’re looking to make high impact in the social change arena and have a new idea, enterprising plan on how to do it, starting your own programs could be a great choice for success. But you have to do the work. Start where you are and keep moving forward.
Kreyolicious: What are you most proud of?
I always hesitate to talk about myself. My heart is about giving, helping, and doing. At the same time, the help I provide is from my desire, my heart, to ease the pain and suffering of millions around the world. Nearly 1.6-billion residents in developing countries live in poor quality housing. They also have unpainted family homes, hospitals, schools, refugee camps and orphanages with dirt walls with bacteria, bad germs, mold, severe dirt walls and poor sanitation. Believe it or not, over 2.5- billion people live on less than $2 a day and a gallon of paint costs $35. I’m not a good at solving math problems, but I’m telling you I’m not going to spend that $35 on a gallon of paint. I’m going to buy some bread and sugar. I’m going to buy medicine. I’m going to do all the things I think are keeping me alive. But take a moment today and think about how many family’s homes, schools and buildings you see around you that need paint. I find myself in tears many times. Yes, something can be done. Yes, together we can paint the world and make a difference.
Above: Global Paints for Charity, Inc founder Rony Delgarde concentrates on pouring paint in a container for use.
Kreyolicious: In regards to Global Paints, what have you yet to achieve that you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
Since I started the Global Paints for Charity, I have been to 18 different countries and I am blessed to say I am a citizen of the World. In the next 5 years I hope I can visit more developing countries to donate paint. When we are distributing the paint or painting a family’s home for the first time, I could see that there is a lot of excitement, joy, a lot of happiness.
But we also need to recycle more paint. We have received hundreds thousands gallons of paint from businesses, we have to turn them away because we desperately need affordable warehouse space. Even with affordable space, mixing and reformulating the paint is a huge hurdle. Right now, it’s often done by hand, by handful volunteers. Three great institutions, including students from Georgia Tech, have offered to help design a machine to process the paint. However, the costs vary depending upon our desired methods and technology. Our goal is to raise significant funding to build a plant where we will be able to process 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of paint a week, creating jobs not just in paint processing and recycling, but in transportation and logistics, as well.
As you can see, we need help. So by getting the word out you would help us a lot. It is most appreciated.
[All photos provided by subject.]
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Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by kreyolicious