When Andis A. Tamayo decided to create a South Florida nonprofit in 2015, he was aware of how some viewed the LGBT community, both from the outside and on the inside.
“When I was trying to figure out what kind of nonprofit I wanted to create I did research,” Tamayo said. “The feedback I received was: ‘you’re gay and so you’ll probably do something for the gay community.’”
He did, and he didn’t.
As the founder and president of the Pompano Beach-based Renand Foundation, Tamayo oversees a Herculean effort to help communities in Haiti.
The decision came about after he visited the Caribbean country, in close proximity to his native Cuba, with a friend.
“He was going to Haiti to take over an orphanage. I went to Renato and said: ‘we’re going to Haiti.’ Once I was there I found out the problems and wanted to do something about it,” Tamayo said.
Renato Markus Silva is Tamayo’s husband of four and a half years. Silva is the chairman and cofounder of Renand. And this is where the name originates. Renand is the first three letters of each man’s first name put together – Ren(ato) and And(is).
Both men have diverse professional backgrounds. Tamayo earned a doctorate in organizational development from Barry University in Miami Shores. Silva, from Brazil, has owned fitness studios and is a longtime personal trainer.
What stuck out the most from their first visit was the plight of Haiti’s children and their roles as “restavek’s.” A restavek is a Haitian child with parents who are so poor they cannot provide basic support. The child is often sent by the parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant.
“Every single one of the children was being sexually and physically abused,” Tamayo said. “Our work means parents are able to raise their children instead of enslaving them.”
Fast forward to 2018 and Tamayo and Silva have made many trips to Haiti, including the community of Bassin-Bleu. They’ve got a crew of eight Haitian staff working with the board of directors on projects that range from wellness programs to education and housing.
“I’ve been recently working with local nonprofits and fellowship programs – building houses to be earthquake and hurricane resistant,” Tamayo said.
Renand has also developed programs that specifically target Haitian women.
“We’re educating them about family planning and even their menstrual cycle,” he said. “We’re trying to establish a [health] clinic in the area. There’s a community with 17,000 people and no clinic. Three women had babies and I had to send them to another town at 10 p.m. on motorcycles to help them,” Tamayo said.
But what about the gay connection?
“Renand is an LGBT organization,” Tamayo said. “A lot of people think gay people only care about gay people, but that’s not true. We also care for the world, whether you’re gay or not. We wanted to show the world we can care for others, too. We chose Haiti in part for that reason,” he said.
Tamayo said his board is all gay and that most of his sponsors and donors are from the LGBT community.
Up next is a trip with a group of teenagers in tow to help build a latrine. “I wanted to bring teenagers to Haiti to give them a reality check about how the rest of the world is,” Tamayo said.
Tamayo said Renand stays afloat primarily through donations and sponsorships. Here in South Florida, the nonprofit will be the beneficiary of funds raised by Flockfest organizers, which takes place June 30 at Sebastian Beach in Fort Lauderdale. Visit Flockfest.com for more info on the event.
For more on Renand visit RenandFoundation.org.