By Ruth Jean-Marie for Virtasant

Non-Profit organization Hope for Haiti uses virtual reality to build empathy and touch potential donors and international travelers.

Virtual Reality (VR) gained popularity since its introduction to the market in the mid-1980s. The technology works by creating realistic environments that manipulate the human brain into perceiving it as reality.

During the pandemic, virtual reality usage increased by 71%, spurring a technology boom. That momentum is projected to increase over the next few years and grow to $4.26 billion. VR is being used for everything from enhancing work meetings to bettering recruitment techniques. And now, it’s entering the non-profit space as a way to connect developing countries to donors and travelers. 

Hope for Haiti uses this innovative technology in the socially distant post-COVID world to do philanthropic work. It started when Sarah Porter, Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Hope for Haiti, received a VR headset for Christmas in 2020. She started to think of ways to incorporate it into her philanthropic work and create a significant social impact. This sparked an idea.

Both Porter and the CEO of Hope for Haiti, Skyler Badenoch, agree that showing and not just telling makes a more tangible impact. Badenoch explained that visitor trips to Haiti help people see the Haiti that Haitians know. With the combination of limited travel and available technology, Hope for Haiti pivoted. “When COVID happened, we had to come up with an alternative. It’s using new technology. We’re big believers that experience breeds passion.” 

Having impacted over 300,000 individuals in Haiti in 2020 alone, Hope for Haiti’s motivation is clear: raise the resources needed to bridge the opportunity gap and foster community-driven development. Continue reading

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