Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reflections from NJ Volunteers

Watch our friends from New Jersey reflect on their recent trip to Pwoje Espwa at one of their church services. Click on the video for the Sunday 10:00AM service from 4/19 to hear just a few of their reflections. We're so glad you you were impacted by your time here, the kids were certainly impacted by your visit!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New Director of Operations

We are happy to announce that Espwa has hired a new Director of Operations to join the administration team. Meet Jean Eduoard. Jean is a native of Haiti, and lived and worked here for many years. He first visited Espwa many years ago to train our security guards, and dreamed of returning back to work one day. But first he traveled to the United States upon receiving a scholarship to study a Masters in Public Administration at Rutgers University. He will be overseeing all of the many departments that operate on the ground here at Espwa, and communicating with Free the Kids board and staff back in the US. It is a big job to take on, but he is enthusiastic about the role and we hope his new ideas and approaches will help Espwa develop even more. Welcome to the family, Jean!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Happy Birthday, Matante!

Everyone's favorite aunt, Matante, turned 74 yesterday. Matante has been with Espwa from the start, and helped establish it in the early days with Father Marc. She is the spiritual matriarch of the Project, and works to help the kids develop their faith and morals. Her birthday gathering was complete with birthday cake and singing. We are so grateful for her and all that she does. Bon fete, Matante!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Espwa Takes in New Baby Ferlando

Meet Ferlando, Espwa's newest baby. His young and unemployed father brought his only son to Espwa after his wife left him scared and alone.

Ferlando is 4 months old, and showing early signs of malnutrition. He will live in the Girl's Village under the close care of the housemothers until he is strong and healthy. Although funds are extremely tight, Espwa continues to take in vulnerable children who need a better life. Your prayers and support are imperative for babies like Ferlando who need special attention and care in order to survive.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kickball and Crafts

While the group from Massachusetts was here they also made some time to play kickball with the boys and girls and do some crafts. One of the favorite crafts of the week was paper kites that each child got to design and bring home with them.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Summer Dresses

Our friends from Massachusetts made over 100 dresses for all of the girls at Espwa before they came down to visit. They started their dress making project on MLK Service Day with the help of another congregation close by and individuals from their church continued working on the dresses for months leading up to the trip.

Because they brought down so many dresses the girls were able to choose which designs they liked best. They each ended up with a new summer dress, a hair clip and some hair bands and ties. Thanks to our friends from Massachusetts! The girls are so happy with their choices!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Crosses and Cupcakes

Most of the time, the kids get all of the volunteers' attention. But every so often, a group thinks of another important asset of Espwa: the people who make it all happen. Espwa visitors from Massachusetts took the time to honor the housemoms, kitchen staff, and teachers for all that they do for the children. They baked dozens of cupcakes, and shared palm crosses that their church made for the team to bring. 

The church thoughtfully making each palm cross. 

All the preschool teachers with their crosses.
Although no thank you is big enough for all the work that these employees of Espwa do day in and day out for the kids, this was certainly a thoughtful gesture and reminder to them that they are appreciated by all of us. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Plowing Away

These old fashioned plows are rarely found in the US anymore, but there are still many in Haiti. Check out the Espwa agriculture team plowing some fields to then plant beans and okra seeds. That's a lot of hard work!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reflections from a Visitor

The following reflection was shared with us by a visitor who came to Espwa in March. Her words speak for the more than 250 volunteers who visit Espwa year round, to work and play with the kids, make the Project stronger, and leave with a life-changing experience.

"When most people think of Haiti, they think of the earthquake. They think of destruction, of sadness, of loss, and of extreme poverty. While all of this is still very present in Haiti, I wish to tell you that it does not define Haiti. When I think of Haiti, I too have those thoughts but they come far after my thoughts of Espwa- which, in Haitian Creole, means hope.

During my time in Haiti, I worked at Pwoje Espwa, an orphanage and school that helps almost 1,000 children in Haiti. There, I saw opportunity. I saw children with a passion for learning. When asked the question, 'What do you like to do in your free time?' a young girl responded, 'Think.' And when asked what she thinks about, she answered, 'What I will learn tomorrow.' When I think of Haiti, I think about these children. In them, I see the future of Haiti and it is a hopeful one. They dream without limitations, and love even though they have experiences great loss.

When I think of Haiti, I think of community. I think of acceptance, support, and a willingness to share knowledge. I think of beauty that outshines destruction, and a deep burning joy that cannot be overcome by sadness. Sete yon plezi pou mwen, Pwoje Espwa. Wap tou jou rete nan les prim: It gives me pleasure to have known you, Project Hope. You will always be in my memory."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Finally! New Mattresses for the Kids

For quite a while, the kids have been sleeping on torn mattresses with the padding falling apart, and using extra blankets to keep them in one piece throughout the night. Thanks to the generous help of the Diocese of Wisconsin, we now have brand new mattresses for both the girls and boys villages! The kids will surely sleep better through the night on these quality beds.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter at Espwa

This Easter weekend was filled exciting traditions at Espwa. On Holy Thursday, Father Marc and Matante washed the feet of Espwa kids young and old to commemorate Jesus washing the Disciples' feet at the Last Supper. 

On Good Friday, Espwa students performed a play of the Passion.

Espwa student Placide playing the part of Jesus during the Last Supper with his disciples.
Espwa student Julnor as Pontius Pilate.
Jesus carrying his cross.
The audience eagerly watching.
And last night, we held an Easter Vigil and baptized 22 children!

We wish all of you, our dedicated supporters, a blessed Easter Sunday. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jewelry Lessons

Recently, we invited one of our local female artisans, Alexis, to meet with some of the Espwa girls. She told them about how she learned the trade and shared some tips for how they might do the same. The following day she came back for a demonstration. She was able to work with the girls to teach them the basics of making paper beads for necklaces and bracelets.

The girls had a wonderful time and are looking forward to hearing more from professional women in Haiti. This is the second event they've had learning from older women in the community. We hope Alexis can return again to continue her lessons and inspire the girls to get involved with art!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The "Fix It" Team

One of the greatest needs we have at Espwa is for assistance with our mechanical and electrical issues. The team from NJ was able to travel with a master electrician and other electrical and mechanical specialists. We kept them busy while they were here and they were able to address some major issues on the Espwa property.

Thanks again to the "fix it" team: Rob (above), Allan (far left), Cator, Lifaite, Jim (far right) and Allan (not pictured)!