Monday, September 11, 2017

Three Cheers for a New School Year!

Hip hip hooray! Today marks the first day of school at Pwoje Espwa. This morning, speckles of green, pink and plaid spotted the compound as children marched their way to their respective classrooms in their freshly pressed uniforms.

After some introductory time with their new teachers, Espwa students gathered in the chapel to celebrate a traditional back-to-school Mass. This time together is meant to call the Holy Spirit into the lives of all children, including the 1500 students that come to Espwa just for school, as they begin a new academic year.

As always, we are so proud of Pwoje Espwa’s students and teachers for their dedication to education. We wish them all the best as they begin a fresh, new year! Bondye beni nou, timoun yo.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dental Care Gives Hope

Imagine a schedule like this one:
1)   Late night flight from home to Florida on Thursday
2)   Early morning flight from Florida to Port-au-Prince on Friday
3)   5 hour drive from Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes on Friday
4)   Arrive in Les Cayes, immediately set up a dental clinic that consists of all materials one would find in a dentist’s office in the States
5)   See patients late into the night Friday
6)   Wake up early on Saturday morning to work in the dental clinic all day
7)   Repeat on Sunday
8)   Early drive from Les Cayes to Port-au-Prince on Monday
9)   Flight(s) home on Monday
10) Returning back to work/normal routine by Tuesday morning

Believe it or not, this schedule is REAL and it takes place every year at Pwoje Espwa at the beginning of September. The group consists of dentists, hygienists, dental students, and support staff from all over the United States. They have been making the trip down to Espwa for the past 9 years to provide top of the line dental care to our children, staff, and surrounding community members all for free.

This year, Dr. Tozzer and his team saw a record 344 patients over the 2 and a half days they were here. They worked from sun up to sun down with translators at their sides to communicate about the needs of the patients. From check-ups for 4-year-olds to oral surgery for adults, the team saw it all and did it all. Thousands of dollars in dental care… all for free

To say we are grateful for a visit like this would be an absolute understatement. Thank you to this group of professionals for encouraging healthy dental habits, curing severe pains, and giving love and care to our Pwoje Espwa community. We are blessed to have you all as a part of our family.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Participation Post: Your Espwa Experience

Calling all writers, bloggers, poets, photographers and artists who have been to Pwoje Espwa! Whether you’ve been to this beautiful place more times than you can remember or you experienced a one time visit that left a lasting impression on you, we want to hear about it.

Leading up to Espwa’s 20th birthday, which will be happening in January 2018, we would like to post about your experiences at Pwoje Espwa. Submit your Espwa photos, artwork, poetry, writing, etc. to and we will highlight you on our Facebook page!

As always, thanks for your support and love. We look forward to hearing more about your special times at Espwa! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ronique Laurent: An Espwa Inspiration

What’s that you see? That's right! The girls’ village!

And there? Do you spot the itty bitty Quad?

How about this image? Look at the detailed boys’ village!

Where are these tiny versions of Pwoje Espwa structures coming from? These are part of an incredibly detailed model made my Ronique Laurent, a former Espwa child who transitioned out two years ago.

Laurent has been working on this model of Pwoje Espwa over the past three months. He created everything by hand, including the stand that the model sits on.

This past Sunday, Laurent came to Mass to show off this beautiful piece of artwork to staff and children. Before we all gathered around the incredible project to take turns spotting familiar sights on campus, the young man stood in front of everyone and explained why he made the model.

“I did this to say ‘thank you’ to Espwa for everything they did for me and as a way for me to say ‘thank you’ to God. When I first started here, I was not strong in school. In my fourth year of Primary School I made 4/10 as a final grade, but I wasn’t discouraged. I made more time to study and I advanced very well. When I entered my sixth year, it was me who was the second strongest student in school… I chose to enter a professional school for two years. There I made high grades – 8/10, 9/10. I know that YOU can too… When you leave Pwoje Espwa, that doesn’t mean your life is over. It’s Pwoje Espwa that prepares us for our lives… Pwoje Espwa, thank you so much.”

As we come to the end of the year and prepare to say goodbye to another class of Espwa children who are 18 years old, these words from Laurent are an especially important reminder. While entering the real world is nerve-wracking, especially in a society where jobs are scarce, it is possible to get out there, to do what you love and to succeed. Ronique Laurent is a perfect example of that.

Thank you, dear Laurent, for sharing your talent and your inspiring story with us. You were and always will be a part of our family.

Monday, July 3, 2017

School's Out For Summer

With all kids finishing up school last week, spontaneous dance parties and pick-up soccer games have been spotted frequently around Pwoje Espwa. We know how hard our kids work to do well in school and we’re especially proud of them this year, as they endured Hurricane Matthew in October.

Matthew certainly took a toll on the academics at Espwa as it kept students out of school for approximately two months. Some older grades in secondary school were asked to come in early on Saturday mornings to make up for lost instruction time. But, our resilient kids prevailed! They finished up the year with good grades and smiles on their faces.

Now that the end of the 2016-2017 academic year is here, most of Espwa children will go home for summer vacation. It is important to remember that a majority of our kids are not true orphans; their families bring them to Espwa recognizing that they cannot support them at home. While kids certainly love being at Espwa and live happy, healthy lives while here, they miss their biological families (like any child would). We’ll miss them, but are happy that they can spend time with their families. See you in September, kids! Nou renmen nou (we love you).

Friday, June 16, 2017

We are the champions!

We are the champions! Our older Pwoje Espwa soccer team has been ROCKING it these past couple of weeks. They have been involved in a few tournaments and have won two of them so far.

 The Executive Director of Free the Kids, Frank, and the Executive Director of Pwoje Espwa, Berthony, attended the game together.

In a recent game, the team was presented with quite the challenge as they were playing against an older (and bigger) team from Port Salut. One of our players broke his leg during the tough competition. He is recovering well, with lots of love and support from the rest of the team. Prayers for him are appreciated.

By the end of the game, the score was 1-1 and the final came down to penalty kicks, best of five. Our goalie saved almost every one and helped us to win the game! Everyone in the stands burst into cheers, hopped over the fence and ran onto the field! The team carried the goalie above their heads, whose shining smile and sparkly eyes portrayed the pride he felt in himself and his team. 

Jean Didley - our amazing goalie!


When they returned to the compound after the game, the team marched around to each of the villages, showing off the trophy; screams of pure joy broke out as children realized that their older brothers had won! We are all so proud of our team.

Tomorrow the team will play against a group of young men who are in Espwa’s transition program. Everyone is excited to see the game; it will be a fun and family-oriented competition!