Thursday, January 26, 2017

Matante - Humans of Espwa

If you have visited Pwoje Espwa, we’re sure you’ve seen the little pink house that sits outside of the Quad. While this home is small and humble, the woman who lives inside has a history that is tremendously important to Pwoje Espwa Sud. This  77-year-old woman is called Matante.

On January 19th, we had the privilege of learning more about Matante’s life, her faith, and her involvement with Pwoje Espwa. She walked into the Quad promptly at 9:30 that morning, decked in a flowery head scarf and ruby red earrings; she was ready to tell her tale.

Matante was born on April 24th, 1939 to her mother and father; they named her Denise Jules. When asked if she had any siblings, the woman laughed quietly and responded that she has one sister and one brother who have different fathers. Her father passed away when she was only 11-years-old from an unknown illness. She paused after explaining this; it was clear that this event had a big impact on her life. Her eyes became glassy as she explained that she was in school when it happened and people came to deliver the news to her that day. After this tragedy, Matante explained that her mom “…suffered a lot. I suffered a lot with her.” It was hard for a single mom to take care of her children, but it became even harder when her mother developed a cardiac illness and passed away when Matante was 21-years-old.

Once her mother passed, Matante’s great aunt welcomed the young orphaned woman into her home.  At this point in her life she became involved with a group called “Karismatik” which met to pray for people who were sick. After some time, Matante became the President of “Karismatik.” She was also involved in her church’s choir and was known for her beautiful singing voice. Later in life, Denise served as a community leader in Camp Perrin where she lead a women's group called "Gwoup Fanm." Her involvement in these groups lead the young woman to deepen her relationship with God. We asked Matante if the suffering she experienced in her life ever caused her to doubt her faith. She responded immediately and confidently – No. “God can call or speak to people in different ways.” She expanded on her deep love of prayer and her ever-growing trust in her Heavenly Father. 

After a miscarriage, the birth of two daughters, the murder of her husband of 28 years, and the establishment of a school where she taught Kindergarten, Matante found Espwa. She helped Father Marc in Camp Perrin, which is where Pwoje Espwa was founded in 1998. In 1999, she moved with the organization to the city of Les Cayes where she worked with Father Marc to make important decisions about the children. She did all of the work as a house mom for the children as well – cooking, cleaning and educating them. She has been with Espwa since the beginning. She never attempted to negotiate a salary when joining the project; she loved Father Marc's charisma and saw the opportunity as a way to serve others as a Christian.

She was and continues to be respected by many. When asked why she is called “Matante” which means “Aunt” in Creole, the wise woman explained that one of the children that she helped raise in Camp Perrin saw her later in his life. He exclaimed joyfully “Oh, look! It’s my aunt!” He smothered her with an embrace and from that point forward everyone called her “Matante.”

Before Matante left us that morning to reclaim her place outside of her humble home, where she would pass the day humming and caring after her chickens, we asked her what she hopes for all of the children that live at Pwoje Espwa. She answered, “I hope the children become good people and I hope they find opportunities to study. I pray for them all the time.”

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ferlanda - Espwa Kid Spotlight

Our supporters help every child at Pwoje Espwa to blossom.

Today we are spotlighting Ferlanda, an 11 year-old who lives in the Girls’ Village at Pwoje Espwa. Perhaps the best word to describe Ferlanda's personality is sweet. While surrounded by children in the villages or in church, Ferlanda is the child that will quietly sit next to you, slip her hand into yours, and wait patiently for others to disperse so that she can have alone time with you. Ferlanda loves to giggle, tell jokes, and she says her favorite thing to do in the Girls’ Village is play with dolls. When asked what she wants to do when she finishes school, Ferlanda responded, “I want to work at Pwoje Espwa!” All the best luck to you, sweet Ferlanda! Nou renmen ou.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Many Thanks

Our beautiful children were overjoyed to receive gifts this Christmas, which members of the staff were able to purchase thanks to the generosity of our donors. Even though Christmas was a couple of weeks ago, our kids are still totally delighted by their new toys!

The staff laying out all of the toys on Christmas morning. 
Sweet Ferlanda.

All smiles from Casten.

Here is Maranatha using her new toys to make an imaginary meal for some friends.

Phanor enjoying some alone time to play with his truck.

Joyful Jamesly.

Jackson is a total rockstar! 

 From all of the kids at Espwa and all of the staff who witnessed the sheer joy of our children on Christmas morning – thank you.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year, New Quad

If you have been to Pwoje Espwa before, we're sure you're familiar with the teal green walls of the Quad which quickly start to feel like home for many visitors. Over the next week or so, we'll be updating and repairing our beloved home to ensure that we are prepared for all of the visiting groups coming in 2017. Do you spot the room you usually stay in?

Check in for more updates as we finish up this large and exciting maintenance project!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Visit From the President!

Wow, what a surprise! The President elect of Haiti, Jovenel Moïses, visited Pwoje Espwa on New Year's Day! 

As he entered the gates with an entourage, children and staff excitedly gathered around to greet him and to understand why we were the recipients of such a special visit. After a short tour of our grounds lead by Father Marc, Moïses gave a speech where he announced that he came to Espwa after hearing about the work that we do and being inspired by the mission through which that work is driven. He stated that he felt it was necessary to congratulate us in person for preparing future generations of Haiti. 

What an exciting way to start off 2017! 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from our family at Pwoje Espwa to yours! While 2016 certainly brought us its own set of challenges, it also gave us a beautiful bounty of blessings. One of these many blessings is Edelynne, a four year old at Espwa with inclinations towards giggling and spreading light in all that she does.
 When Edelynne and her sister first arrived at Espwa in August, it was clear that they were scared and unwell.  After 5 months of attending school and receiving daily doses of love and care, Edelynne and her sister are thriving! As we move into a new year, we look forward to watching all of our children grow and become healthier, happier, well-rounded individuals.