Saturday, August 23, 2014

Goat Milk Soap

Yesterday some of the kids received a donation of bars of soap. Not just any ordinary soap- this soap is handmade by our friend of Espwa, Regina who uses a special main ingredient: goat's milk. This soap journeyed from Regina's farm in Ohio to the hands of the children, whose eyes lit up after their first whiff of its sweet scent. 

The goat's milk it is made from also happens to have many natural benefits to skin health and care. Thank you Regina for encouraging the kids to wash their hands even more often now with your special soap!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Final Game of Summer Soccer

This morning was the final official soccer game of the summer program for our Espwa kids. A team of kids who stayed at Espwa this summer, played against the kids who took a vacation from the project for the past two months.

The rest gathered around the edges of the field and watched on with excitement and cheers. In the end, the kids who were at Espwa this summer won the game and a big trophy to go with it. Now that everyone is returning from vacation, the kids look forward to spending more time together and starting the school year in just a few weeks!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dancing the Night Away

St. Joseph's finished off a great visit with dancing in the guest house. First, our best Espwa dancers taught the group a basic hip-hop routine, and St. Joseph's returned the favor by teaching them a simple dance called the "Wobble." The rest of the evening was spent dancing to catchy Haitian music.

It was wonderful to see both cultures exchanging dance moves, and finding joy in music and movement together. Thank you for an awesome week, St. Josephs!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Guests for Lunch, Hoping to Stay

Meet Danielson, Ableson, and baby Job. Today their father stopped by Espwa to see if we could offer them anything to eat. Since the boys' mother passed away in March, their father has been struggling to feed them and heard he might find help at Espwa.

Thankfully, Matante was home this afternoon and filled four plates of food for each of the sons and their father to eat diri ak sos pwa (rice and bean sauce). They were very grateful for the meal and each ate their fill. Little Job already shows signs of malnutrition. Meals like this are so important for his development at this critical stage in his early childhood.

The father hopes we can find a place for Danielson, Abelson and Job to live here at Espwa. He can no longer support them on his own and fears they will starve. We wish we had the resources to welcome every child who comes to our doorstep: Job and his brothers and many more in situations like them.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Frozen in Haiti

The recent Frozen craze has made its way to Espwa! St. Joseph's brought lots of new movies for the kids to watch, including the fun, sing-songy story of La Reine des Neiges. Boy and girls, young and old, gathered at the chapel for a movie night, and watched in excitement. 

Having never seen snow did not stop these kids from appreciating the humor as they laughed and laughed. Our visitors also enjoyed hearing their favorite song "Let it Go" sung in French. We are always looking to update our movie collection to give the kids some new entertainment, and are so glad we now have this film! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy feast day, Les Cayes

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, the patronal feast of Les Cayes.  There were special Masses today and a long procession through town. It has become commercialized in recent years and most people observe this holy day by going to the beach and partying into the wee hours.
It still amazes me how people can so easily celebrate with all the challenges and problems they have to address each and every day here. What a gift!

Lacrosse at Espwa!

Last night the St. Joseph's group introduced some of our Espwa boys to a new game for us here: lacrosse. After a quick tutorial from the volunteers, the kids were well on their way. The boys picked up the rules quickly and had a blast running back and forth across the field.

The team brought down 20 lacrosse sticks so many of the boys were able to give it a try. They even showed the boys some techniques for holding the stick and cradling the ball. The boys can't wait to play again soon!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Fresh Coat of Paint

St. Joseph's Catholic Church youth group is visiting Espwa for the week and has already started working hard! Today they are repainting the houses that formally served as home for Espwa's girls in the early days. Now that the girls have their own dome village, we hope to fix up the house to accommodate even more volunteers and visitors at Espwa. Our guest painters chose a bright pink color for the outside, and will be working alongside our Espwa masons to entirely renovate the house over the next week. Thank you St. Joseph's!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


This afternoon I stood over the corpse of a sixteen year-old boy at his gravesite, reciting the last prayers his mother will hear before he is sealed up in a rented crypt. He is the younger brother of one of our boys; he died from internal bleeding last Saturday because his father decided to “teach him a lesson in respect.” The police are now looking for the man, and I wish them good luck.

There have been four deaths since I returned: apart from the above, a one month-old infant, the child of a former resident, who died suddenly and with no diagnosis; the mother of our Secondary School Assistant Director; and the brother of another one of the older boys, who will be buried later this week. The mother had been sick for some time but the infant and brother's passings were wholly unexpected and completely devastating.

There will be no inquiries, no autopsies. Those require resources that Haiti does not have.

I went to the sixteen year-old's home and saw his mother. I told her I was saddened by her loss and she hugged me. She offered me a soft drink that she cannot afford.

I will be praying for her and the others. Join me, please.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Celebrating 6th Grade Success!

The exam results are in and our Espwa 6th graders have performed among the best of all of the students in Southern Haiti. Their weeks of studying and hard work have certainly paid off and we are so proud of each of them.

With a 95% success rate, almost all of our students will move on to their next year of schooling this fall. Congrats to all!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Off to the USA!

Today we said bon voyage to two of our Espwa veterans, Rose and Patrick, who will traveling to Massachusetts for four weeks as part of a private school's summer program for international students. For the first week, Rose and Patrick will be participating in a home stay with friends of Espwa, Marillyn and Jill. And for the following three weeks, they will be totally immersed in college life by living in a dorm on campus. 

Alongside students from all over the world, Rose and Patrick will get a taste of what the college experience is like in the United States. They will perfect their English, learn more about the college application process, participate in extra curricular clubs on campus, go on field trips, and get a sense of what higher education classes are like. We hope this experience will get them excited and prepared for a full-time university one day. We are so very proud of Rose and Patrick, who boarded the airplane this morning sporting Espwa t-shirts and hats. We know they will learn a lot, and represent Espwa well! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bon Fete, Adelene!

This week we celebrated Adelene's birthday! Adelene is the assistant cook and house keeper at the Espwa Guest House who always seems to have a smile on her face. We love to hear her laughing and enjoying her time cooking with Sonya in the kitchen each day. We so appreciate everything she does and her birthday was a wonderful time to be reminded of how grateful we are for her.

This year, Jane, Patsy and the kids worked hard to help Adelene with dishes and even made her a lemon cake with chocolate frosting for her birthday. We had such fun singing to her and eating cake together.

Bon Fete, Adelene!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Computer Classes

Amos, our archivist, and Wilbert, the director of the boy's village, have started teaching a small group of older kids some basic computer skills- yet another fun activity for summer days at Espwa! The students are learning how to use Microsoft Word, Google, as well as basic functions like creating desktop folders. These skills are invaluable to any student who dreams of going to college one day. The students are excited and anxious to learn more in the coming weeks!

Monday, August 4, 2014

M & M

This weekend Dr. Margie and her husband, Mike, came to visit us at Espwa for a short preliminary visit. Even during the few days they were here Margie was able to see some patients from the community and from Espwa. The clinic was so grateful to have her here on a day when our resident doctor does not usually come in. In the coming months, Margie will help us to better organize our clinic and organize even more medical groups to come to Espwa.

Mike, an environmental engineer was able to get a sense of our use of water at Espwa and we're looking forward to working with him in the future to make more efficient use of our resources.

Thanks again Margie and Mike for your visit! We are looking forward to working with you in the future!

Saturday, August 2, 2014


On Thursday, Father Marc returned to Espwa after two months visiting and fundraising around the United States. He was greeted by big hugs from all. Espwa was not the same while he was away- we are happy to see him rocking in his rocking chair again!