Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Charging Station in the Boys Village

Rachel's family visited just before the Christmas holiday. Her father, Ralph, donated and installed a couple of solar panels and a system to charge the old cell phones of our oldest boys who rely on phones to do the odd jobs that they are responsible for. Some of you have donated those old phones, which are very cheap to operate in Haiti, unlike in the US. With so few outlets, and such unreliable power it can be hard for the phones to get proper charge. The new system will use solar power and can charge over 20 phones at a time.

Thanks Ralph for the installation!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lessons from Medical Students

Medical school students give of their vacation time to share their expertise with our children.  This morning the topic was:  Be proactive when sick. Don't wait until it is serious.  We are blessed to have these medical students from Universite l'Lumiere come here every Christmas break.  God bless them.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Gifts all around!

Christmas gift distribution yesterday morning thanks to our friends in Minnesota and the assistance of our older boys.  On the anniversary of the greatest gift of all, our children received colorful, painted bags filled with assorted goodies: candy, toys, clothing.  Many thanks to Sue Valiton and her group!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Here's Jakson admiring our creche scene this morning.  
He kept wanting to move the Baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at Espwa to all of you. Joyeux Noel! Bonne Annee!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Caroling in the Girl's Village

All the girl's are getting in the Christmas spirit singing Christmas carols in the village when they don't have class.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Snow in Haiti

Most of the kids who live at Espwa have never seen snow in their life. So for a Christmas craft activity we had a few of the kids over to the Quad to make paper snowflakes. We explained to them what snow looks like in Canada and the United States and how, for many of us, its a hallmark of the Christmas season. They said they had seen snow before in the movies and began snipping away each making their own unique snowflake.

Each child got to bring one home with them and left one for us to decorate the Quad. In the photo above, Marc is showing his big brother, Kens, the snowflake he made. They all came out beautiful!

Friday, December 5, 2014

iGive to Free the Kids

Want a quick and easy way to help Espwa and Free the Kids? Just follow this link and register with iGive, and FTK will get $5 for every new membership. http://iGive.com/welcome/warmwelcome.cfm?c=34755&m=439298

$5 Free for evey new member who tries iGive before Cyber Monday

iGive is an organization that gives a portion of your purchases to a charity of your choice. Participating stores include Amazon, JC Penney, Macy's, Nordstrom, and more. We recommend using iGive all year round, but even if you don't use it for your shopping, FTK will get $5 for simply signing up and becoming a member. Thank you for your support!

English Classes

For the past three months, a select group of older boys at Espwa have been invited to take free English classes at the Quad. They've been working on developing their vocabulary, grammar and conversation skills with Kelsey and Rachel and the visitors.

The boys take classes three times a week and as more and more students have learned about the opportunity, invitations to the class have spread. Although every student does not attend every class, we have roughly 20-30 boys learning English with us. As of this week, we even have our first woman in class: Sonia, the Guest House cook!

The best part of class is playing games with the students. A few weeks ago, with Sue's group, we did a scavenger hunt at Espwa by pairing up our students with visitors and having them work together in teams. The above picture is one of the photos taken during the scavenger hunt of "someone jumping in the air." This week we played a game of Jeopardy together to learn English plurals.

We are looking forward to continuing classes through the spring and hope some of our springtime visitors will be just as excited as we are to help the students develop their language skills. They've come so far already!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sprints on a Saturday

A few weekends back, 100 Espwa kids gathered for a morning of track and field activities. Different age groups competed in a 60 meter dash, soccer dribble, and relay race. The event was great fun for all, and the kids were excited to see their times posted in the primary school the next day. What a great weekend activity!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Espwa Memories for the Holidays

After a couple of months of photographing and interviewing dozens of members of the Espwa family, the "Humans of Espwa" photography book is now up for sale. You can buy the book in softcover or hardcover online here: http://www.blurb.com/b/5704829-humans-of-espwa . Rachel and Kelsey will donate all of their profits from book sales to Free the Kids.

Humans of Espwa is a photographic glimpse into daily life at Pwoje Espwa Sud in Les Cayes, Haiti. We have interviewed and photographed dozens of members of the Espwa family: from the kids who live here to the security guards, administrators, teachers and farmers that make this project what it is. Although we wish we could have filled a book cover to cover with a photo of each and every person here, we hope this will give you a sense of some of the incredible people who call Espwa home.

Wishing you all happy holidays from Espwa!

-Rachel and Kelsey

Saturday, November 29, 2014

International Children's Day

Every November 20th, Espwa celebrates International Children's Day, a holiday that recognizes children all over the world, advocates their rights, and addresses our role in promoting their welfare and protection. Espwa held a special training for its employees in honor of this day of awareness that was coordinated by our Director of Childcare, Nancy. 

Espwa employees gathered to listen to guest speakers from the Child Division of the Department of Human Services, and Terre des Hommes, an international non-profit that works with children. The main speaker was Espwa's very own psychologist, Mrs. Fernande. Later that week, a celebration was hosted for the children, where they snacked on goodies, enjoyed their peers sing in a choir performance, and were reminded of their rights, their importance, and their special place in our hearts. 

Espwa Director Enold with Jamesly

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we prepare the turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce for our American Thanksgiving in Haiti. We are looking forward to spending the day cooking and eating in fellowship with our friends and family here at Espwa.

We are thankful today for everyone here at Espwa and back home in the United States and in Canada. Every person who visits becomes a new member of our family and we are so grateful for all of the unique gifts, varying talents, and genuine compassion you each devote to Espwa.

We couldn't continue to educate the kids, support them, and watch them grow and succeed without all of you.

We wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgivings wherever you are with good food, family and friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Enock's Mamba

One of the best parts of staying at the Guest House is starting the day with Enock's homemade peanut butter! "Mamba" is a Haitian twist on peanut butter, and Enock's home recipe includes cinnamon, pima (pepper), fresh ground peanuts, and sugar. The result has a bit of a kick to it, and is loved by our visitors. Thank you Enock!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Positive Pen Pals

Six of Espwa's teenage girls are participating in a brand new pen pal program. The program was started by friends of Espwa, Kate, Suzanna, and Hilary, young professionals living in Washington DC. The program envisions a world where young girls all over the world are not afraid to pursue opportunity, can realize their full potential, and are empowered agents of positive change in the community around them. 

The letters provide an excellent mentor-mentee relationship between these women in the United States and our aspiring young girls at Espwa. Last week, the theme of the letters revolved around setting goals, where participants created a personal goal, planned the steps needed to achieve it, and anticipated challenges that might occur along the way. The participants were able to discuss the results of these plans face-to-face through a video chat. 

There were smiles all around as each girl shared the process of reaching their goal. Whether they achieved it or not, each person got a round of applause for their effort, and some positive reinforcement to make the goal more possible. These relationships are so important to young people at Espwa as they begin to form their identity, foster their values, and harness their passions. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spa Day

Last Friday, Sue’s group held Spa Day for some of the staff at Espwa. They arranged the Guest House like a spa and offered manicures, pedicures, massages and facials. Each of the sixty customers were then given a take-away bag with moisturizer and facial wipes. Among the customers were cooks, house moms, sewing shop ladies, and some administrators.

Everyone was looking forward to Sue’s group and Spa Day when they heard she was coming. For many of them it is the only day they are pampered like this and really given appreciation for the hard work they do for Espwa every day. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1500 Pounds of Donations and a Week of Fun

Last week Sue came with a group from Minnesota for the 5th year in a row. Her group of fourteen fund-raised and brought almost 1500 pounds of donations with them to Espwa. The first morning was spent unpacking and organizing all of their donations, including items to be put into Christmas bags as gifts for the children.

The group spent lots of time playing soccer with the boys and doing crafts with the girls. Last weekend they spent the afternoon teaching the girls how to make butterflies out of clothespins and coffee filters. They hung the butterflies in the girl’s domes to brighten up the inside. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Introducing Kafe Espwa

We are happy to announce the opening of our Kafe Espwa shop! We are now offering 100% Arabica Haitian grown coffee to our friends and supporters. Every bag you buy brings a profit to Pwoje Espwa, with the added benefit of direct profit to the coffee farmer and planting of one coffee plant.

There are two ways to participate:

Make individual orders at: http://singingrooster.org/espwa/

We would also encourage you to organize fundraisers at your church or office, and will process those bulk orders by contacting Angela Gilliam, at angela.b.gilliam@freethekids.org. This method results in larger profit for Free the Kids and Pwoje Espwa, and is applicable to orders of 12 or more bags.

We hope you will try our coffee, and are certain you will come back for more! This makes a great gift for friends and colleagues. Also look at our website www.freethekids.org for an Espwa coffee mug to go with!

Thank you for your support!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Using Every Part of the Animal

Each Saturday morning at 6 a.m., Espwa slaughters a cow for some increased protein in the kids' diets. Along with the meat, each other part of the cow is used to the best of our ability. The photo above shows one of the cooks cleaning off the skull to boil. Boiling the skull releases the brain and other pieces inside of the head into the pot. The can then make the mixture into a sauce to be spread over rice.

Nothing is wasted in Haiti!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Re-purposing for Playtime

At Espwa we're always surprised and impressed by the ways our kids create something out of nothing. From kites constructed out of garbage bags and dental floss, to bottle cap marbles, and dress-up with marker caps you never know what new re-purposed "toy" you'll see walking around. There never seems to be a lack of creativity here!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Work Begins on Secondary School

Work has begun on the secondary school. We hope to be able to renovate and repaint the schools in the coming months. This week our masons have been doing some preliminary work. A volunteer group arriving on Tuesday will continue the project by painting the school. We're looking forward to seeing a fresh coat of paint!