Saturday, June 30, 2007

Life goes on

Despite the fact that we are in mourning, we gathered last evening to welcome Andy Topp who will be with us for a couple of weeks. He's a contractor back in New Jersey and will be working on several projects here. Yesterday was Jeff's 13th birthday so he was invited to join us.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Shock and sadness

At 8:40 AM this morning, Israel Valcourt collapsed and died right in front of our small clinic. Israel was accompanied by his aunt who told us he had been sick lately, had vomited blood last night and plans were to bring him to the hospital this morning. He took a turn for the worse and was brought to our clinic on the back of a moped. While we were getting our old Nissan ready to bring him to town, Israel died. He was sixteen, very bright and loved to laugh. Someone went to get his grandmother who raised Israel after his mother died and she was overcome with grief. This is an extremely sad day for us but especially for his classmates and family. Please join us in praying for the repose of his soul, for his family and for his many friends.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sorghum and Soya

A close-up of sorghum which we call pitimi.
When the guys saw the photo of the sorghum (above) they were not happy. "We aren't in focus and we are not all there!!"- they cried. So... I took their photo while they stood in the soya field.

Prayers, please

This is Eddy Aunon. He was playing this afternoon and was struck by a rock in his left eye. We rushed him to Hopital Brenda Strafford here in town and the sisters took him in immediately. There was lots of bleeding and the doctor doesn't know if Eddy's eye can be saved. Please say a prayer for him and ask everyone you know to do likewise. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Earth bag house

The cinder block wall for the bathroom is up.


Muriel Mandia's Clintondale sewing machine getting a workout.
Carol distributing Clintondale dolls to our girls. Photo courtesy of Dan and dolls courtesy of his parents.


Our new soybean crop
One soybean pod up close and personal

The Bloods

Daniel Blood welding the water pump.
Dr. Michael Blood coaching our baseball stars.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Farmer to Farmer

Mr. Ilan Bar is an agronomist with Farmer to Farmer, an international organization that matches agricultural needs in poor countries with a qualified agronomist. Mr Bar visited and here you see him meeting with our Agronome Brice, Tanis Jolicoeur (Espwa Agricultural Projects Director) and me. His expertise is irrigation systems and he made several recommendations. Farmer to Farmer is an excellent resource.

Earth bag house- Update

Denis and Evens waiting on the masons to put up the block wall for the bathroom.
Here's Denis, the Earth Bag House project manager, framed by his work. He's proud of his accomplishment and can't wait to see it finished. Denis is 20 years old and now sees the possibility of becoming an alternative building contractor.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cool dudes

After being encouraged to lend my camera to the teens for an inside look as to how they see each other, I let Biondy borrow my camera this morning. I think the theme is--
Is there anything cooler than a dude wearing shades and speaking on his cell? Sunglasses and cell phone provided by a gracious monitor.
The cool dudes are: Kens, Enoch, Fritzner and Biondy.

LadyBird would be proud

One of the children's residences with a newly landscaped front yard. We are encouraging the children to be proud of their yards and will reward those who make an effort. Each month there will be a "Most Improved Curb Appeal" Award.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dan Blood

Here's Dan working on our water pump. A crack showed up and water is leaking all over the place adding to the surface water problem we have here. Dan is a real pleasure to have around. He identifies problems, figures out a solution and tackles it. He is working on a long-dreamed-of see saw water pump.

James, Jean Gardy, Jameson, Jackson, Guerlain, TiThomas and Sipote sitting near MaTante's house watching Dan work. (They were watching Dan work until I showed up with the camera.)

Hidden talent surfaces

This is Raymond, one of our illiterate teens. Come to find out this week that he can make (weave?) fishnets. You should see him go at it! He'll be working with the A&C group to share his talent and to try making hammocks. Is that cool, or what? The recognition he has received this week has transformed him.

Arts and Crafts- Summer Program

Jean-Remy with his Butterfly mobile
Choupy and Franky at the painting table
A few of their products

Friday, June 22, 2007


Lent my camera to Jean-Robert, our own Dennis the Menace, and he took these photos. Top is me taken from the second deck of the Quad. Middle photo is of his best friend, Fery. And the bottom photo is Dan, of course, posing for the camera. Maybe I should lend it to him more often and we'll get to see things from his perspective.

Is there a doctor in the house?

Our Dr Jacob sits with Dr Michael Blood, his mentor, in our courtyard at Castel-Pere. Dr Blood accompanied his son, Daniel, who will be staying with us a month. Daniel is an engineering student and, boy, do we have plans to use him.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


A photo of Evens finishing the sewing of earth bags. All the bags are done now.

Room with a view

Here's a great, pastoral view from the bedroom window. That itty-bitty dark thing in the middle of the photo is a cow. We are laying the last of the earth bags today (if the rain holds off). Then comes the roof.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A sad moment

Guy, Danale (in back), Pinokio and Woosman
The last day of school was Friday and this week family members of the children have been coming to escort the lucky ones home. But more than half won't be going home as they don't have one or their families can't take them for any number of reasons. These boys were looking on this morning as some of their friends were leaving for the summer.


Two new designs of moon-sun faces from the artisans under the new direction of Paige.

Faces two

TiThomas and Pouchon (and a crowd of others) sat with me this morning as we waited for breakfast.


Someone commented on my post in which I quoted Theresa of Avila. I thought I should put it here as many folks do not read the comments. Unfortunately, the contributor remains anonymous.

While we are reflecting, remember the words of Pope John XXIII.
"Lord do not let us turn into 'broken cisterns' that can hold no not let us be so blinded by the enjoyment of the good things of earth that our hearts become insensitive to the cry of the poor, of the sick, of orphaned children and of those innumerable brothers and sister of ours who lack the necessary mimimum to eat, to clothe their nakedness, and to gather family together under one roof."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Josette Louis

This is the room a poor neighbor lets the Louis family use. It is about 10' by 8'.

Josette Louis is the lady sitting in the above picture. She has been paralyzed for eight years, ever since her youngest was born (the girl to her immediate right). Her son, Enoch, is 13 and he's standing right behind her. Guerline is 15 and she's standing to her mother's left. She was in school thanks to a generous Salesian nun but the nun was transferred a couple of years ago and Guerline's education stopped. Donald, not in the picture, is 18 and attends a free school here at laMadonne. Donald is the one who brought his mom to us and she told us that he was her guardian angel. He's the one who helps her bathe and carries her to the community outhouse. Josette's family was kicked out of the small home where they were living due to lack of payment. The children spend all their time and energy begging for food and are sometimes lucky. The prayer of the mother is that we can find her some help. I gave her food and told her we would try. One of my staff gave her 100 gourdes cause that was what he had on him. Can you help?

Monday, June 18, 2007


Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the world.
Yours are the feet with which Christ is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which Christ is to bless all people now.
Theresa of Avila

Theresa of Avila lived over 500 years ago but her words are as true today as they were back then. I find much inspiration and solace in them. My hands, my eyes are His instruments just as yours are. Do people know Christ a little more after meeting us?

Day one of summer vacation

The boys were out very early this morning working in their gardens. We plowed a nice chunk of fertile land in the middle of our property so that the kids could "practice being farmers". We will keep tabs on them and there'll be awards at the end of the summer--kinda like a county fair.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

End of the school year

We had a special liturgical celebration this morning in honor of our young graduates of the elementary school. The place was packed. The music was exceptional. The preaching was inspiring (yeah, I preached). Congratulations, graduates!

Alexis and Patrick

The two altar servers this morning were Alexis and Patrick. They did a terrific job, as always.

Welcome, Paige

Paige Orlowski has been with us almost a week so it's about time I get a photo of her on the blog. I was waiting for the right moment and I think I got it this morning. What do you think? Paige is with us for a year if all goes well. She'll be heading up the English Program for our elementary school, supervising the Arts and Crafts activities, teaching dancing...
Welcome, Paige.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Our new web site is up and running. Technical complications made it rough going for a while but that is all behind us now and we invite you to come and visit; tell everyone you know to look us up. It will be updated frequently so you'll want to bookmark the site for easy return visits. Once again, thanks to Katie McCarthy for all her efforts is making this happen.

One more update

Window and door frames are in. More and more neighbors are stopping by to take a gander at this strange-looking structure. They aren't sneering but... I'd like a dollar for every raised eyebrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Daily requests

I just received a typed letter from one of the older boys. He is an apprentice carpenter. Here it is translated:
Dear Father,
How are you, your health, your work? Before I go any further I want to thank you very, very much for all you do for me. I am old enough to realize how much you do for me, how much affection you have for me. There is no one else who helps me, just you. Thank you very much, Father.

Father, I have to share some bad news with you which is very sad. Every day an invisible flow of water falls from my eyes because I cannot help my mother and younger brother. I am the oldest in the family and I should help them. I have nothing to give them and, now, they are being evicted from the room that my mother rented and have no money and no place to go. I am very ashamed of myself. If you saw where my mother lives you would cry, too. I know that money is hard to find and that I should not ask but I cannot not do something. Father, please, please, help my mother. I have found a place for her and my brother but it costs $700 Haitian. Thank you very much, dear Father, I have every confidence in you.
Your son,
Every single day we receive letters, notes, or direct demands from the children of Espwa. Every single day people come to our gates both here and at Castel-Pere and beg for help. We help when we can but we often have to say "No, sorry." cause there just isn't enough money. $700 Haitian is one hundred dollars American. If you can spare it, please send a check to Jack, my brother-in-law, who will forward the money here electronically. Help me say "Yes" more often. Thanks.


Here are Boss Kala and Boss Dieudonne working on the frames for the window of the earth bag house. A skilled craftsmen is called "boss". An advanced apprentice is called tiBoss (little boss). As this is a mini-course in Creole, Dieudonne means "God-given". There are some pretty cool names here. Here's one that is special: a priest friend of mine is called Dieusait which means "God knows". His health was very fragile when he was born and his mom kept saying "God knows" if he'll make it. He did and was baptized Dieusait--God knows!

Another update

Door frame is in and the walls get higher and higher.
Here are TiDenis and Thierry getting a close up look at the new, funny house.


TiGuy sitting next to his pickup truck. The boys can be very creative with the little at their disposal.


The children are out of school and the challenge for us is to find things to keep them busy. Agro. Brice needed to get about 300 saplings loaded onto the military truck so we formed a "bucket brigade" and the job was done in short order. The kids were happy to help.

A couple of shots of the thriving tree nursery.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

House update

A long shot of the house taken from the road. It's slow but sure progress.