Thursday, October 31, 2013

Harsh reality

We make a conscious effort to be positive on this blog: happy faces like Jakson's in the last post and accomplishments in all areas especially academic and sports.  But there are days when smiling does not come easy and today was such a day.  The managers and I had to announce the lay-off of thirty more employees this morning due to budget constraints.  All those who received notice have family responsibilities like children in school or relatives dependent on them for help.  Unemployment is over 50% here in the south so the likelihood of finding another job is pretty dismal.
Please join me in praying for these people and their families.  Thanks.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Afternoon Relaxing

Here's Jakson, Gary, and Echele (I think that's her name), relaxing in front of the girls' house as it gets close to sunset. Jakson is, as always, very enthusiastic about the camera. Gary's been at Espwa for a while and now works in the Childcare Department. Echele is a new arrival and already becoming a part of the Espwa family. She's very polite, good-natured, and speaks a little bit of Engish.

Jakson again, entranced by the flash bulb. I swear this kid's gonna take up photography when he gets older.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Past, Present, Future

A sign of where we've been and where we're going: Mackentoche, a former resident of Espwa and now an employee in the Childcare Department, holds Hebreauson, one of our newest arrivals.

(PS looks like our 'symbol of the future' here is a little sleepy in this photo; you would be too, in this weather!)

Monday, October 28, 2013


Hey everyone; we just realized the settings on this blog had been configured to require a Google account from anyone making comments on a post - a bit of an obstacle to those of us without gmail. That's since been changed, so please feel free to leave your questions, comments, and feedback. Thank you!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

International Day of the Prisoner

October 27 is International Day of the Prisoner, and the prison in Les Cayes decided to hold a special Mass and speaking event to mark the occasion. They couldn't find another priest in town, so they asked Fr. Marc to come celebrate.

The Mass was short but inspiring, held in the central courtyard and was followed by speeches from local authorities and a few prison inmates about prisoners' rights and challenges facing the Haitian justice system. It's by and large a broken one, with drastic overcrowding in cells and many inmates staying in jail for months, even years, before being brought before a judge for assessment and sentencing.

Some of the older boys, like Lifaite here and a handful of others in the back, came to serve at Mass, take pictures, or just observe. It's important they understand and struggle with the major social issues of their day; it gives perspective and purpose.

The minors and women inmates could attend Mass in the courtyard with the assembled visitors and staff. Actually, dressed for church, it was hard telling them apart from anyone else in the crowd. The adult men had to stay in and receive communion from their cells. 

A lot of positive things were said by the local dignitaries, like the UN representative from Madagascar here: acknowledgements of flaws, assertions of prisoners' rights, reassurances that steps are being taken towards improving conditions. Here's hoping the talk becomes reality.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Domes Update: Getting Close...

Some of you may have seen the Domes when they were empty structures, or even stone foundations. Now our masons are finishing off the ceramic flooring of this residential dome. We're getting close to the opening of the Espwa girls' village, slated to begin with the opening of the six dormitory domes in November. What a blessing for our girls and young women!

Got Eggs?

Remember the chicken coop? Well here's the total egg output as of three days ago. Today we're going on eight dozen, maybe more. We've started using them at the Quad and are planning on cooking them in the kids' meals for extra protein. Yum...

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Yesterday the Project put on a Spektak for our visitors. It's a wonderful tradition for all involved, especially the kids; they take the initiative to create routines, organize performances, and encourage one another throughout the process.

Here's an action shot of Julio onstage, where he sheds his usually quiet demeanor to put on that rockstar persona he wears so well.
And that's Leti and Aurel in the background with our clunky AV equipment. A few years (or decades) out of date but hey it gets the job done, am I right?

The younger girls perform a traditional Haitian dance. A lot of flowing gestures and deep, reverberating drum beats. I get the feeling Tama's leading here, the way Lemsa watches her for choreography.

Dance of the market women and farmers. This was a real fun one - Bosico plays a great elderly farmer; it made me laugh to see him grimace and hobble onstage, then explode into dance.

Here's Tama again; this time showing off her singing chops. This was a pretty big number - with the other young girls backup dancing and a cameo by Julio. I think a few minutes after this photo was taken she went into the dancebreak and the crowd went wild.

Good show, guys!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Madame Angela

New FTK Executive Director Angela visited the Children's Village yesterday and got to meet quite a few of the young guys and girls. As always, everyone loved having their photo taken.

Angela is here this week to meet with our staff and help us plan for the challenges ahead. She grew up in northern Haiti and speaks Creole fluently; it's a pleasure having her here. Welcome back, Angela!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Saturday Morning

Every Saturday morning the boys here comb our grounds for trash and fallen leaves - our own little "Clean Brigade." 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chicken Coop

Some older boys and staff working on a roosting box (terminology?) for the revitalized chicken coop. The chickens are hanging out inside the building, they just got in from Port-au-Prince a week ago and right off the bat have been building up to a solid egg output. I'm told they'll get to as many as a dozen and a half every day if things go well. We're hopeful.

Working Hard

Scenes from the Children's Village:

The boys are working on a garden plot inside the village, a place for them to grow some of their own fruits and vegetables and practice farming techniques. Our long-term volunteer Cameron has been spearheading agricultural projects like these to involve the kids, and by and large the response has been enthusiastic.

Even some of the little ones like De here have rolled their sleeves up and jumped in. Look at that smile!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Beginnings

This is Samana; she's a new arrival and the sister of twins Hebreaux and Hebreauson. Samana is an adventurous extrovert type, almost the opposite of her reserved, focused little sister Carelene. Despite their differences, the girls stay close and watch out for one another. And despite the years they've spent in some pretty desperate poverty, they're both sweet as can be.

The photo was taken a few weeks ago, at our assembly for the beginning of school. It's meaningful on a lot of levels: for the kids, the beginning of a new academic year; for Samana, the start of a new life at Espwa; for us in cyberspace, the first post of a new blog; and for all at Pwoje Espwa, the start of something new - a time of refocus, renewal, and perseverance through all the challenges we face, financial and otherwise. Please continue to pray for us, and keep us in your thoughts.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

New blog

I haven't been able to keep up with updating you on the great things and the not so great things happening here.  In an effort to keep you in the know, a new blog is now open for inspection.  It will be updated more frequently and this one will be phased out.  Put "espwa means hope" in your browser and you'll see it.  Hope you enjoy it.

A few friends wrote to say that they could not find the new blog by doing what I suggested.

Try this:


Dear Friends and all,

I'll admit in the past several months I haven't been on top of updating the old blog. I know many of you have come to trust it as a constant source of news, and I'm sorry to have left you in the dark. There's still plenty going on, little miracles every day, and I've decided to renew my focus on sharing it all with you. I hope you enjoy the new blog site – it's got a fresh look, some new features, support for multiple contributors, and we'll only be adding more from here. So please, subscribe, like, follow; however you'd like to get updates – and remember, “Espwa means HOPE.”

But now I need to ask you to do something for me: keep us in your thoughts and prayers. We're in the thick of a financial crisis; with donations falling short we've implemented some very painful cuts and will need to do more if things keep up in this vein. It's a difficult situation, and if we ever needed help we need it now. So please think about making a donation, and tell a friend about us; tell your friend to tell a friend, better yet, and even consider holding a fundraiser. Could you do that for us, please?

Thank you. You have been a pillar of support, and without your contributions none of this would be possible. I don't ever forget that. May God bless you abundantly.

Fr. Marc

P.S.  Don't be shy about commenting.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Our newest twins

Above is a photo of Hebreaux and Hebreauson (nicknamed Juneau and Juneauson), our new twins. We met these two five or six months ago when we rushed them to the hospital for severe malnutrition; some of our visitors may remember them. Recently their mother was diagnosed with a serious medical problem and, with no one else to turn to, asked that we take in her children - these two and their sisters. It's a sad story but here they have a new start; they're real sweet and we're glad to have them. With your support we are able to say to them -"Welcome to the family".

Another tragedy

I concelebrated a funeral Mass this past Saturday for six young girls killed in a terrible car accident a week before.  The photo on the bottom right (above) is of our liturgical coordinator's daughter.  She was thirteen and the youngest victim.  Bad road conditions, poorly trained drivers, no required vehicle inspections combine to make fatal car crashes much too frequent.  Please pray for the families of these girls who have been devastated by this tragedy.
Thank you.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013


This is Jakson.  He's been with us a couple of months now and is super friendly.  He isn't talking just yet but I could read his non-verbals.  He was saying: "Gimme that little box you have in your hands.  Yah, you.  I'm talking to you!"


Here's a photo I took today of Jamesley.  He is real laid-back and usually quick to smile though this afternoon... well, you can see for yourself.  Jamesley is crazy for vehicles.  He runs to the door or window when he hears a motor and is trying to figure out why the electric golf cart I occasionally use catches him by surprise.


Here are a couple of recent photos of Sonice.  The top one catches her coming into a room with a freshly washed pile of clothes.  Yeah, dress up time!
 In the other she's posing demurely for the camera.  Think she's camera shy?  Not in the least.