Monday, July 17, 2017

Ronique Laurent: An Espwa Inspiration

What’s that you see? That's right! The girls’ village!


And there? Do you spot the itty bitty Quad?


How about this image? Look at the detailed boys’ village!



Where are these tiny versions of Pwoje Espwa structures coming from? These are part of an incredibly detailed model made my Ronique Laurent, a former Espwa child who transitioned out two years ago.


Laurent has been working on this model of Pwoje Espwa over the past three months. He created everything by hand, including the stand that the model sits on.

This past Sunday, Laurent came to Mass to show off this beautiful piece of artwork to staff and children. Before we all gathered around the incredible project to take turns spotting familiar sights on campus, the young man stood in front of everyone and explained why he made the model.


“I did this to say ‘thank you’ to Espwa for everything they did for me and as a way for me to say ‘thank you’ to God. When I first started here, I was not strong in school. In my fourth year of Primary School I made 4/10 as a final grade, but I wasn’t discouraged. I made more time to study and I advanced very well. When I entered my sixth year, it was me who was the second strongest student in school… I chose to enter a professional school for two years. There I made high grades – 8/10, 9/10. I know that YOU can too… When you leave Pwoje Espwa, that doesn’t mean your life is over. It’s Pwoje Espwa that prepares us for our lives… Pwoje Espwa, thank you so much.”


As we come to the end of the year and prepare to say goodbye to another class of Espwa children who are 18 years old, these words from Laurent are an especially important reminder. While entering the real world is nerve-wracking, especially in a society where jobs are scarce, it is possible to get out there, to do what you love and to succeed. Ronique Laurent is a perfect example of that.



Thank you, dear Laurent, for sharing your talent and your inspiring story with us. You were and always will be a part of our family.

Monday, July 3, 2017

School's Out For Summer

With all kids finishing up school last week, spontaneous dance parties and pick-up soccer games have been spotted frequently around Pwoje Espwa. We know how hard our kids work to do well in school and we’re especially proud of them this year, as they endured Hurricane Matthew in October.

Matthew certainly took a toll on the academics at Espwa as it kept students out of school for approximately two months. Some older grades in secondary school were asked to come in early on Saturday mornings to make up for lost instruction time. But, our resilient kids prevailed! They finished up the year with good grades and smiles on their faces.


Now that the end of the 2016-2017 academic year is here, most of Espwa children will go home for summer vacation. It is important to remember that a majority of our kids are not true orphans; their families bring them to Espwa recognizing that they cannot support them at home. While kids certainly love being at Espwa and live happy, healthy lives while here, they miss their biological families (like any child would). We’ll miss them, but are happy that they can spend time with their families. See you in September, kids! Nou renmen nou (we love you).

Friday, June 16, 2017

We are the champions!

We are the champions! Our older Pwoje Espwa soccer team has been ROCKING it these past couple of weeks. They have been involved in a few tournaments and have won two of them so far.


 The Executive Director of Free the Kids, Frank, and the Executive Director of Pwoje Espwa, Berthony, attended the game together.

In a recent game, the team was presented with quite the challenge as they were playing against an older (and bigger) team from Port Salut. One of our players broke his leg during the tough competition. He is recovering well, with lots of love and support from the rest of the team. Prayers for him are appreciated.


By the end of the game, the score was 1-1 and the final came down to penalty kicks, best of five. Our goalie saved almost every one and helped us to win the game! Everyone in the stands burst into cheers, hopped over the fence and ran onto the field! The team carried the goalie above their heads, whose shining smile and sparkly eyes portrayed the pride he felt in himself and his team. 


Jean Didley - our amazing goalie!

video

When they returned to the compound after the game, the team marched around to each of the villages, showing off the trophy; screams of pure joy broke out as children realized that their older brothers had won! We are all so proud of our team.


Tomorrow the team will play against a group of young men who are in Espwa’s transition program. Everyone is excited to see the game; it will be a fun and family-oriented competition!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Happiest Place on Earth

Emily Dabrowski was an extremely passionate young woman whose love for Pwoje Espwa grew with every visit here. Emily planned to work at Pwoje Espwa once finishing college and would beg her parents to come visit as often as she could. She passed suddenly earlier this year, which shocked her family and friends as well as everyone in the Espwa community. She was full of light and life and was loved deeply by many.

This past week Emily’s mother, Diane, came down to Pwoje Espwa for the first time. In her time here, she reconnected with her daughter and began to see the beauty that Emily would rave about when she returned home after every trip.

In Mass last Sunday, Diane gave a beautiful speech to the children about the importance of loving and caring for one another. She then gifted Espwa a painting of Emily that was created by some of Emily’s friends back home in the United States.


In return, Pwoje Espwa gave her a piece of metalwork made by a former Espwa child. The sign states, “The Happiest Place on Earth” which is the phrase Emily used to describe Pwoje Espwa.


These beautiful moments remind us of the beautiful family-like relationships that Pwoje Espwa fosters. We will all continue to carry Emily and her joy of life in our hearts.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

First Communion

This past Sunday, 32 children received first communion during Mass at Pwoje Espwa.

  
  



19 of these children were residents of Espwa – 17 boys and 2 girls – and the other 13 were children from surrounding communities. All of these children have been taking spiritual formation classes in preparation for the big day.

 



The church was embellished with beautiful handmade decorations and everyone was decked out in their very best to celebrate this big step taken in the spiritual journeys of the 32 young people.



Sending congratulations and love to all of them!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Soccer Weekend

Over the weekend two Espwa soccer teams played in town. On Friday, the older team beat their opponent 3-2! Everyone at Pwoje Espwa learned of the win as soon as the team returned to campus; the team sang, chanted, and whirled their shirts above their heads in celebration.

On Saturday, Espwa’s younger team played in town for the first time. They played hard and lost by 1, but were heavily supported during the game by Espwa kids who watched them play. The kids loved the outing and enjoyed munching on peanuts and lollipops while cheering on their friends!











It was a great, soccer-filled weekend! Nou renmen jwe boul! (We love playing soccer!)