Sunday, March 30, 2014

Open Wide

This week we hosted a group of old friends from a Presbyterian church in NJ. Together with fellow visitor Allain from CA, they set up a dental suite in the Klinik Espwa. Here's Carelene getting a good cleaning.

Lovenson, with his typically wide smile - happy to be in the dentist's chair, looks like. After the cleaning, dentists put a sealant on to maintain oral health and prevent future problems - which means less cavities and rotten teeth in the long run.

Here Angeline cleaning out her mouth after everything's done. This was a great opportunity for our kids to receive high-quality healthcare in an important area of their lives.

But that's not all - our visitors were multi-talented bunch and shared a great deal of other professional skills: primary healthcare and cardiological consultations, physical and energy therapy, construction and mechanical assistance, and more! A real gift.

Pride in Work

Last week some of our carpenters called me into their shop and asked me to bring a camera. They wanted me to take some pictures of their latest work to share with you all. Some pretty neat stuff:

Here's the order of chairs and end tables for the Girls' Village.

And a very striking bed frame for local sale. Nice work, guys!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pass the Popcorn

You can't tell in the dark, but this is a cloth screen in the Boy's Village - we've been bringing back a very nice tradition, weekend movie nights. It's a great way to build community and bring some excitement to the typical (quiet) Friday night; the students especially enjoyed it as they just finished taking midterms this past week.

Can anyone ID the movie? 50 points if you can get it!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tweet Away

Good news for social media fans - Free the Kids is now on Twitter!

You can follow at

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Many of our visitors will remember Kendy, the incorrigible little boy with a bright smile and an impish personality. However, as charming and fun as he was to be around, he had a streak of bad behavior that, unfortunately, culminated in him being sent home when he threw a rock (pictured) at his house mother.

This is sad news and it shows the reality here in Haiti: we work for the children, to give them a better future - and the kids themselves all have several sides to their personalities, many have a great potential for good but are carrying scars from pasts of abuse or the outright struggle to survive. Sometimes destructive tendencies win out and stretch our capacity beyond the limit.

In days like these, we're not pleased with having to send away a child, and we look forward to a time when we can have a level of psychological expertise and even stronger resources in childcare so behavioral problems can be addressed before we resort to these means.

There is still hope for Kendy. He's still young, and can change (in which case we'd be glad to have him back). Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Espwa Jeopardy

Last week the school system held another round of the "Genius Debate," an academic competition open to all outstanding students. Participants flex their brains by memorizing material from their classes and going head-to-head with a barrage of trivia questions.

It's a great opportunity for encouragement and practice for our students who academically excel, and it makes for great entertainment:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Students' Visit

This week a group of college students from OH are with us on a mission trip. It's a wonderful opportunity for our children, especially our older ones, to share and receive knowledge, perspectives, and questions with others who are so close to their own age.

Here are some snapshots of the week:

Remember PPED, from our last blog post? Well this group of exceptional young men is planning to start a small boutique at Espwa in order to support their activities with vulnerable children and establish an enterprise model for future graduates. Here are Makentoche,Lifaite, and Jean Ourdy meeting with the visiting students for advice on forming a solid marketing plan and a strong business proposal to present to potential investors. Two of our visitors are economics majors, and the others have good sense for the field - needless to say, good first steps were made.

Engineer Jay and deputized assistant Lisa - both faculty advisors for the trip - getting down to brass tacks by fixing some of our dysfunctional machines; pumps, sanders, V-belts... it's such a godsend to have that know-how here, even if it is for just a week.

An after-school English club with a few young men from the Secondary School. A relaxed setting for some very deep conversation.

Monday, March 10, 2014


This is a video put together by Mission PED ("Mission pour la Protection des Enfants Demunis" - Mission for the Protection of Vulnerable Children) - this is a group of older Espwa boys who have decided that the formation and nurturing they received at Pwoje Espwa shouldn't end with them; they should share it with other poor children in the community. On their own time and initiative, they've formed a mission group that goes into poor rural areas and distributes clothes and food, organizes activities and educational discussions about health and the rights of children. Take a look for yourself!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Welcome to Lent! 

Here at Espwa and all across the world, we enter a season of honest reflection and quiet joy. It's a time, to repair and renew the three major relationships in our lives: with God, with our brothers and sisters, and with our very selves.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers - we'll be praying for all of you as well.

Fr. Marc

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


This is Ralph, who used to live with us here at Espwa. He has a severe developmental disability that requires consistent medication and constant supervision. When he lived here, we soon understood that we didn't have the resources we needed to take care of him appropriately, so we asked another home for children with disabilities in town to take him in. Unfortunately, because Ralph is no longer a child, caring for him in the context of a children's home is much more complex and requires more than the other home has available. They've asked us to let him stay with us temporarily; currently we're looking for alternative homes for adults with disabilities in Haiti. If any of you have any contacts at places like L'Arche or other adult communities here (or internationally), please let us know.

It's bittersweet for everyone to see Ralph again. On one hand, it's a homecoming - he remembers his brothers, sisters, and house mothers here, and vice-versa - but on the other, it's a challenge to take care o him in the most basic sense, and not one that we're equipped for. These are the kinds of situations we often encounter in Haiti, situations that call for a compassionate response and a good deal of wisdom.

Please keep Ralph in your prayers, and us too, as we walk forward in faith.