Youth Upliftment International (Amélioration Jeunesse Internationale) is a non-profit organization working on behalf of impoverished Haitian youth from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. The organization’s primary focus is Collège Amélioration Jeunesse, a primary school that serves street children and other vulnerable youth from the local communities we work with.
Youth Upliftment International (YUI) started out as a dream by founder Katelyn Bateman, after she saw the desperate situation many street children were living in.
In 2008, she took a family vacation to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. While exploring the city one day, she came across children begging and shining shoes instead of being in school. Her initial vacation plans soon disappeared, and her focus transformed into how she could assist these street kids, many as young as 6-years-old.
Unable to forget the children after arriving back home, Katelyn began to visit Puerto Plata numerous times a year to check up on “her kids”. While in Canada, she would collect donations of school supplies, clothing, and basic medical supplies to bring with her to donate. However, on each trip down the children’s overall conditions were not improving. They continued to remain hungry, illiterate, and unable to attend school.
She knew that she had to do more than just watch as the children who stole her heart grow older, and remained trapped in the cycle of poverty they were born into.