Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Nick and Portia decided to go to Port-Salut Sunday afternoon for a little R&R. They were involved in a motorcycle accident on their way back. It's a good thing that Portia was wearing her helmet. Injuries could have been much worse. Nick required more stitches (he's setting a new record) and Portia saw the pavement up real close. They are both in PaP at the best hospital there-- basically for observation. The UN folks were kind enough to provide them with transportation via helicopter. Riding a motorcycle is Haiti is dangerous as Haitians don't tend to respect the rules of the road and road conditions are often less than desirable. Join me in thanking God that the wounds were, like beauty, only skin deep.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Proud Mom

Nancy admiring her little bundle of joy with a mixture of pride, joy and relief.

some very good news

This is the latest addition to the family. Born last night to Nancy and Jude Noel, this little baby girl was long awaited and will definitely be spoiled. Congrats to Nancy and Jude !!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Reality check

I try to be positive and upbeat on this blog. Who needs to see more bad or sad news, right? This is a way to share some of the great things happening here and to give you a glimpse into our daily lives. The problem is that one can get the wrong impression. Scanning the blog, one would never guess at the frustration we have to deal with on a regular basis. The Haitian government is anything but helpful and often adds obstacles to our work; the residual effects of slavery still exist and hamper our efforts to liberate the children via education, vocational training and life-coaching; the kids are far from being angels (no big news there!) and there are times when our teens test us beyond our patience; money is always in short supply so we have to scramble all the time to find the cash to pay for food, salaries, personal hygiene stuff, repairs to the vehicles... So, to set the record straight, I write these lines. It is probably not a good time of year to ask for contributions but we are in need now. We are very grateful to many for their generosity and we have the capacity to be even more grateful. Security is an issue here and we need a fence built around the housing for the children. The houses need to be transformed into homes for the children. They should be painted on the inside, have closet space, have enough linen for everyone, have a table and chairs. Once the fence is up we'd like a playground area for the little people to keep them occupied and supervised. We need a library so the children can have access to books in Creole, French and English. The list could go on but I just wanted to let you see the flip side a bit. If you or a group (congregation, club) would like to help us with one of these projects we'd happily provide you with more details.
Estimated costs of the mentioned projects:
Fence for housing $40,000
Houses to homes $3,000 each house
Playground $4,500 (includes see-saw pump for water)
Library $35,000
Thanks for listening. God bless.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Beast

Berthony snapped these two photos this morning of "the Beast" at work. The driver has over twenty years experience and is a workaholic-- probably explains why is is unmarried. He enjoys his work and usually starts at sun-up and lasts until dusk. We'll need to buy more land just to keep him busy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


DoggyDog (named for his taste in music) and TiAmos just grinnin' for the camera.


TiDouyon sporting the ever-popular shorn look. TiDouyon was out of sorts for a while but is back in shape now.

Here's Dan Whitley, our Visitor and Volunteer Coordinator, attempting to coordinate things via cell phone-- not an easy task when the cell phone company refuses to collaborate.
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Monday, January 22, 2007

Bon Voyage, Andy

Andy surrounded by admirers at his going-away party.
JaRoro, Andy and Jean-Robert
It was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to Andy this morning. He's on his way home and then on to East Timor as a United Nations' Volunteer. We wish him all the best and will miss him very much. Andy became part of the Espwa family this past year and we will always keep him in our thoughts and prayers. Jean-Robert (above) asked Andy to be his sponsor for his upcoming First Communion in the hope that Andy will return. Thanks, Andy, for sharing your energy, your time and, most importantly, yourself with us. God bless you.

Barrel of fun !

Jean and Angelo playing with the barrel that we just cleaned. Can't wait for the day when we have a playground for the children.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

New Tractor

While away for the board meeting on Friday the container carrying the long-awaited tractor and accessories showed up at Castel-Pere. All kinds of new possobilities come into play now for our agricultural program. The tractor is a gift from several Rotary Clubs in the United States. The Rotary slogan--Service before self !-- is not merely words. It is an apt description of the generosity and dedication of thousands of men and women who help the needy. May God bless their efforts. We are very, very grateful.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Never-ending job

Cleaning up is a never-ending job. Here you see John and Max giving us a hand. Thanks, guys, you have been terrific helpers. Will miss you!

Klinik Update

Dokte Cynthia, Klodet and Dyeri (Creole-ized) have been happily swamped this past week. Here are some stats:
tested 121 children for TB-- 30% positive
vaccinated 131 children and 69 adults for Tetanus
entertained 389 visits at the open clinic
Most common complaints were hypertension, anemia, pneunomia, backaches, headaches, parasites (skin and G.I.), colds and flu.
Tomorrow is a well-deserved day off at the beach and off they go back to Maine on Friday.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Did you ever wonder?

Ever wonder how Haitians keep their hair so nice and short when there's often no electricity? Well, now you know. In the top photo, Bertin is getting his hair cut the old-fashioned way. Jean-Renald, bottom, is getting his cut with the added safety feature of a fancy binder clip.
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Shots, shots and more shots

Dr. Cynthia, Claudette and some of the kids.
Jerry, Dr. Cynthia and Stanley.

PPDs and Vaccines

Dr Cynthia and Claudette aiming to vaccinate TiDouyon. He was one of the brave ones.

Is there a doc in the house?

Thank goodness Dokte Cynthia and Jerry were here last evening. Nick had a little accident and required their undivided attention. Nick's finger was badly cut and needed a few stitches with no pain killers. Yikes! Musta hurt like heck, eh, Nico? After some caring attention and some teasing from friends Nick was "all bettah"!
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A big OUCH !!

This isn't Hollywood. That there is real blood!
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday morning

Six of our little ladies waiting patiently for church to begin.

Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Sundays ought to be days of reflection, inspiration and prayer. Life keeps us so busy that we need to take some time to think about what is important, where we are headed... This is my favorite prayer from St Francis and it pretty much captures the essence of a Christian approach to life. The more Christ-centered and other-centered we are, the more fulfilled we are. The following words are part of my daily morning and evening prayer. Join me in reciting them this morning.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday morning chores include gathering up all the little people and getting them to pick up litter and trash. We separate the stuff gathered. Some goes to composting and some to trash to be burned. Even little Duval participates and contributes to the cleanliness of Castel-Pere.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nico's back !

Nico returned from his vacation back home and we're glad he's back. He snapped this photo as the kids were sneaking peeks outside when they should have been looking at the teacher. Welcome back, Nico.

Fellow Mainers

Here are the medical folks from Maine: Jerry, Dr Cynthia, John, Claudette, Max and Dan, our V&V Coordinator (that's Visitors and Volunteer). They are standing in the unfinished dining space for our first neighborhood. After touring Castel-Pere, they started to unpack the med supplies and will be seeing kids first thing tomorrow morning.

Busy...busy...busy !

The next couple of weeks will be hectic as we host a visit from our Medical Director and her team, the leadership of We can build an orphanage.com, Theo's Work's Board of Directors, Mr. Bernard Champon and company, and some other visitors who will come for a day at a time. Phew! I'll be a little busy so the frequency of postings on this blog may drop a bit over the next fortnight. Even if the postings stop for a while you are always on our minds and in our hearts. Kindly keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Down time

Odile, Matante, Pierre Rinot and Jean enjoying a moment's respite by playing dominoes.

Suppah !

Rice with fresh eggplant is on the menu tonight. It's really quite tasty.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Finishing touches

Brand new shelving made by our carpenters for the pharmacy.
Frantz putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls of the pharmacy/clinic office.
Our Medical Director, Dokte Cynthia, and her team are coming in tomorrow so we are rushing to get the last of it painted and scrubbed down.

A New Element

We provide over 2,000 meals a day here. That costs us around $13,000 a month. We have 182 employees who all need to be paid as they support families and extended families. Transportation costs, laundry and personal hygiene stuff, farm expenses, clothing, school supplies, Prison Ministry, utilities... so you can imagine our monthly budget. I have inserted an advertising element (to the right, under my profile) which Google provides. It's a little way to make some money. Every time you click on an item in that box we get a pittance. Lots of pittances make up a sizable amount so feel free to click away.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Au Revoir

Our new friends, Rob and Charlotte, left this morning. We gathered yesterday afternoon and the children put on a spektak in their honor. There was lots of new talent this time around and everyone had a wonderful time. We wish Charlotte and Rob a safe trip back to civilization. N'ap mande Bondye pou beni nou. Pa bliye nou! The next three photos are from Portia.

Rico and Delince demonstrate their karate technique.

Our daring and talented juggler, Aurel, spitting fire, amazing the crowd and scaring the bejeebies out of me.

Kakoun entertaining us with his creativity and soulful voice.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

As we left C-P after lunch today I saw this little boy sleeping near the entrance to our property. I don't know his story but he was sleeping soundly so I did not wake him up. What do you think the folks at Posturepedic or Serta would say?

from Father Patrick Samway, SJ

Father Patrick dropped us a line. His photo was taken last week as he sat and read in our Guest House at Castel-Pere. Remember? Thank you, Patrick, for your kind words. Here they are:

Even though the bus ride from Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes is stifflingly cramped (trust me on that score), it is always well worth it. I particularly enjoy the last 40 minutes, when I can glimpse the southern sea coast, brilliant blue and framed by gracefully swaying palm trees. But most special is to arrive at Vilaj Espwa and see the astonishing advances that have been made there. I remember when this area was just a gigantic empty field; now it bustles with activity in every corner. New dorm buildings have been erected; a solidly built school and an open-air chapel resembling an airport hangar occupy places of importance; a huge soccer field welcomes eager athletes; professionals and apprentice farmers alike cultivate acres and acres of eggplant, tomatoes, Congo beans, corn, and other nourishing vegetables. Marc Boisvert, O.M.I., has built, with the help of a gifted staff and the support from friends and relatives in the States, a remarkable village for boys, most of whom come from homes without parents. Steadfastly, day in and day out, during sunny weather and tropical hurricanes, Father Boisvert expends his energies totally for the boys in his charge. And most astonishing, to me at least, is that throughout all this he radiates a calmness, even-handedness, and trust that comes with years of reflection and prayer. It is no wonder that Marc and the boys at Vilaj Espwa have become my teachers. Yo mèt m’, yo ye. And that’s why I look forward to this bumpity-bumbity bus ride, which has become for me a yearly pilgrimage.
Patrick Samway, S.J.
Professor of English
Saint Joseph’s University
Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Visitors visiting

Dan, Charlotte, Andy and Rob visiting Camp-Perrin yesterday. Charlotte and Rob came for a short stay and have helped with preparing the upcoming medical visit. They are both med students. We wish them well as they head back to the states and their books. (What the heck is Andy doing?) Photo by Portia.

In process

This is a shot of Matante standing in the middle of her new home. It won't be long before she has a safe and beautiful home to show off. Thanks to a donor from Maine for this absolutely fantastic gift. Photo by Portia.

Virginie's Home

Here's Virginie standing in the doorway of her home in Camp-Perrin. Virginie has been with us since the beginning but she is now sick and cannot work in our kitchen. Her name is on the waiting list for a decent home. Let's hope her dream comes true real soon. Photo by Portia.

Luscious peppers

Take a look at these beauties from our garden!! Hmmm! Spicy chili here we come.
Photo by Theo.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Precious water

Here are two shots of the flowing, life-giving water that is irrigating a new section of the farm. The water comes from a hand-dug well and is pumped out into earth canals to guarantee a decent harvest. Without the well and pump we'd be at the mercy of the weather. With it we look forward to healthy crops. The only downside is that the pump operates on fossil fuel (gas) but someday we hope to have a solar pumping station. Photo by Theo.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Talk about organic !

Organic food is the rage in the states if I'm to believe what I see on the web. People pay more for "organic" fruits and veggies. Hmmm! Maybe we should start thinking about exporting our produce as we are truly as organic as is possible-- from the plowing bulls (which fertilize naturally) to only using natural varmint deterrents. That's our bull team working for their keep turning over the earth in preparation for seeds which will grow into food which we will eat and then dispose of... well, you get the idea. Kinda makes one want to sing the theme song from The Lion King, non? Photo by Theo.

Last baptisms of 2006

This is a group shot of the parents and godparents of the three children who were baptized on the last day of 2006. The fathers are our connection here: two are graduates of Espwa and the third works for us at Castel-Pere. Photo by Dan.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Bertho and Jean-Bertho, two of my favorite twins, kicking back on my rocking chair. It is Monday afternoon and there's not much going on so the twins decided to come visit me. Thank goodness Bertho likes to wear a choker. That's how I can tell them apart. Photo by Theo.