Saturday, February 28, 2015

FTK Board Visit

The Free the Kids/Espwa relationship can be challenging sometimes because of the distance between Greensboro, North Carolina and Haiti. But it always helps when the FTK board members come to visit! Bob and Neil had a week full of productive face-to-face meetings with the Espwa directors, and got a good idea of what needs to happen on both ends to progressively improve the Project. They had a few moments to play with the children between their meetings, which served as a powerful reminder that all that tough administrative work must be driven by a greater force, and for Bob and Neil that force is love for the kids. 

Thank you Bob and Neil for a great visit, and for all you do for Free the Kids! We hope to see you back at Espwa soon. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Finishing Touches

Last week we had a group visit from Maine to paint sealant on the new dining room roof. In just three days, with the help of some of our older boys, the Paul, Dennis, Anne and Carrie completed the task. They came back each day covered in white paint from all their labor, but now the roof looks great and will not leak when kids are eating inside of it.

We can wait for the kids to begin eating together "family style" in the building. Thanks again to our visitors from Maine for the roofing project! And many thanks to Thomas & Carol Cracchiolo Foundation, Cross International, Robert Krebs, Gate City (Greensboro, N.C.) Rotary Club, Shepherd of the Hills Church, Eden, WI and Auburn-Lewiston  (ME) Rotary Club, and The Dugas Family Foundation for making this dining room project a reality.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Family Reunion

Many of Espwa's children are not true orphans. They may have a living parent, but they are unable to provide for their child, so they bring them to Espwa. A lot of visitors ask if the parents ever visit their kids. Sometimes they do, like last week when Magalie came by to visit her four Espwa kids, Semana, Caroline, Juno, and Junoson. She is a single mother abandoned by her husband, and she is raising her fifth child at home alone in Camp Perrin. The reunion was a special one to witness, as the family talked and played. It was visibly difficult for Magalie to say goodbye, but she also showed great pride in the people her eldest daughters are growing up to be, and knows that is because of Espwa, a place of opportunity and hope for her kids.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Raffle Fundraiser for Espwa

Here's a picture of the quilt for Sue's raffle this year.  It measures 98" x 98", so will fit a queen size bed.  We'd like to thank Harriet's St. Hubert's quilting circle, for once again donating another beautiful quilt.  Tickets for the quilt raffle are $5.00.  The drawing will be held on Oct.11, 2015. 

If you would like to buy tickets, or take some to sell, please email Sue at sjvaliton(at) And good luck!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Eat Like Espwa

Please watch our video for an idea of how you can contribute to Espwa during this season of Lent. We challenge you to "eat like Espwa." Once a week during Lent consider having a simple plate of rice or bowl of soup for dinner. Post a picture of your meal on our facebook page and think of Espwa. Donate the money you would have spent on that meal to Free the Kids. Go to to donate to "Eat like Espwa."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lookin' Sharp

The classic "Espwa polo" had been put to rest for the past few years because funds were tight and redirected towards more essential operations. But the tradition has returned, thanks to a generous donation from friend of Espwa, Jean from New Jersey! The black polos sport important staff and students' names on the sleeve. Everyone was thrilled to receive their personalized uniform, a symbol of our appreciation for their vital work at Espwa. Thank you Jean for helping us make this small but powerful token of gratitude possible for the staff of Espwa. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Stove in the Guest House

With the kids' new kitchen underway, the Espwa guest house is experiencing some much-needed renovations as well! Sonia has been asking for a new stove for a while- the stove tops were wobbly and the oven door didn't shut all the way. Her wish was granted when Espwa visitor Gwen donated the money to buy a nice, new, stainless steel stove. Sonia is very grateful since she will be cooking for dozens and dozens of visitors in the coming months! Thank you Gwen for thinking of our guest house staff!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bon Kanaval!

This time of year Haiti celebrates Kanaval, a Mardi Gras carnival that lasts for weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. The Espwa Childcare staff organized a "G-rated" Kanaval for the kids last week, complete with facepaint, masks, and dancing.

The kids gathered on the soccer field and followed the decorated pick up truck on a dancing parade through Espwa. The staff and teachers impressively coordinated a safe and fun Kanaval for the both the teenagers and little ones to enjoy. What an awesome tradition to be a part of!

The kids all lined up and ready to parade. 
The truck leading the way. 
The parade through Espwa.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

ET Under the Stars

Our visitors from South Carolina packed Steven Spielburg's ET with them to Haiti, the classic film of an unexpected friendship, acceptance, and "phoning home." The kids were mesmerized by the film, which they watched in French under the night sky in the guest house. Their entranced expressions glowed by the screen as they watched Elliot's bike take off into the sky in awe. What a pleasure to watch this family favorite for the first time with the kids of Espwa!

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Mary's group also took an afternoon to go help the house mother's in the village with their laundry chores. The house moms taught them how to properly scrub the clothing and had fun working alongside them. It was an afternoon of chatting in Creole and English and lots of laughter.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Getting Outfitted

Mary's group also brought lots of donations of clothing and shoes for the children. We are constantly in need of new clothes and especially shoes for these kids as they run them ragged in the village and on the uneven rocks that cover Espwa and Haiti. Mary's group brought hundreds of nice dress shoes for the kids to wear to church, school and other formal events. And many of the girls got to pick out their own dresses at the Quad.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Carnival Festivities

This week, Mary's group from South Carolina put on a carnival for the kids at Espwa. They even flew all the way to Haiti with a bouncy house for the little ones to jump in. It was their first time inside of one and they absolutely loved it! Mary's group has donated the bounce house for us to keep for use by future volunteers with the children.

They had different carnival stations set up around the church: from a station where the kids shot water balloons to dose small candle flames, to a ring toss, a bean bag toss and tattoos. The kids had so much fun running from one station to the next and left with their hands and pockets full of candies.

Thanks Mary's group!