Sunday, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday

This morning we celebrated Palm Sunday at Pwoje Espwa. Just like Jesus walked into Jerusalem 7 days before being crucified, house mothers, staff, visitors and children gathered in front of the Quad and walked toward the chapel with palms in our hands. Before leaving, Matante was sure to remind the kids not to “ the palms or throw them on the ground. They are holy.” (Of course, some couldn’t help themselves and by the end of Mass many were sporting interesting palm bracelets and crowns and the church floor was decorated with palms.)

Walking towards the chapel.

Ferlando really enjoying his palm. 

Mass with Father Gregoire was beautiful and included a recitation of The Passion put on by some of the older kids. The service ended with everyone singing together joyfully in unison as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday next week.

The Passion
And tonight… a special dinner of PIZZA will be enjoyed by the kids thanks to Sam and his trusty crew of pizza experts! Yum!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

International Women's Day

Thursday of this past week was International Women’s Day! Without women, Pwoje Espwa simply could not function. Women here are house mothers, cooks, and administrators. They are firm and kind, intelligent and generous, strong and understanding. They are truly what keeps our Espwa family moving forward.  

The women of Espwa gathered in the chapel on Friday to celebrate the special day and to discuss the challenges of womanhood and how we can overcome them together. Afterwards, sodas and snacks were shared.  Songs were sung as well. An example of one of these beautiful tunes is below:

“Famn yo, nou se rozo. Nou se rozo, se rozo nou ye. Lè lapli tonbe, nou pouse, nap boujane.”

“Women, we are reeds. We are reeds, reeds we are. When the rain falls, we grow, we are thriving.”

Here’s to strong women all over the world! Their strength and resilience are an inspiration to us all.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What is "Kanaval"?

What is “Kanaval”?

“Kanaval” (Carnival) in Haiti is a colorful and exciting time of year. Starting in January, Haitians begin to celebrate the period of time leading up to Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) on weekends, which is the last day before Ash Wednesday. Many enjoy listening to upbeat and repetitive music that asks listeners to “Jump!”, “Dance!” and “Spin your shirts above your heads!”. One example of Kanaval music is below:

On the days leading up to Mardi Gras, the celebrations are at their peak. Haitians deck themselves out in multicolored outfits, some shower themselves in glitter, and others wear masks. Many carry maracas in their hands to shake to the never-ending joyful tunes. In major cities like Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes, Cap Haïtiene, and Jacmel the celebrations are especially vibrant. Party-goers meet somewhere central in the city to follow floats adorned with colorful decorations and dance to the songs of  famous musicians performing live atop the floats for all to hear.

What does it look like at Espwa?

This is a special holiday and cultural tradition for Haitians and, of course, the kids at Pwoje Espwa love to celebrate along with their country. This year masks, hats, and glitter were purchased for the kids to wear on the Monday before Mardi Gras. With schools closed for the holiday, the kids all met outside on the big field to listen to Kanaval music, dance and celebrate with their peers. Huge speakers blasted music and a DJ came to play the most popular Kanaval tunes. Everyone had a blast!

Monday, February 5, 2018

A Special Dedication

So many donors helped us to make the new hurricane-proof domes happen; for this we are endlessly grateful.

This morning, the new little boys’ village was blessed by Father Elysee. A group of visitors from Wisconsin along with all of the little boys’ house mothers and Executive Director of Free the Kids, Frank Irr, attended the beautiful ceremony.

One of our Wisconsin visitors was especially moved by the blessing as he and his late wife donated money for one of the domes to be built. To honor her love of Espwa and her endless generosity to those in need, one of the domes was dedicated especially to her.

The Wisconsin group and some of the residents of the domes dedicated especially to Ron's late wife.

We are thankful for the moments that remind us just how far and wide the Espwa family stretches.

Monday, January 8, 2018

20 Years of Learning and Love

On January 4th and 5th, Pwoje Espwa Sud celebrated 20 years of existence.

The first Haitian Cardinal, Chibly Langlois was the Chief Celebrate for the Mass; Monsignor Cologne, Father Marc, Father Gregoire concelebrated and were assisted by Deacon Peter. Attendees included 300 staff members, older Espwa children, and dignitaries. Staff and children participated in various parts of the Mass, such as the Prayers of the Faithful, the offering, and in the choir. After Mass, a short Spektak (talent show) was performed and dinner was provided to all those in attendance. It was an evening filled with nostalgia and joy as we all celebrated and honored Pwoje Espwa Sud and all those who have contributed over the years.

Father Marc, Deacon Peter, Monsignor Cologne, Cardinal Langlois, and Father Gregoire 

Some house mothers presented different fruits and vegetables to the Cardinal during the offering. 

Frank Irr, Ben Ablies, Linda and Peter Faford with the Cardinal and Monignor after Mass.

We ate delicious peanuts during the reception.

On January 5th, we celebrated with all of the kids! A ten course meal which included cake and ice cream was provided to each child. As the kids ate they watched a Spektak which included singing and dancing acts from current and former Espwa children, who are now in their mid-20s. Of course, the celebration ended in a wild dance party where kids, dressed to the nines, broke out their best moves.

Look at all those cakes!

Visitors helping distribute cake to the kids.

Matante and Berthony watching the kids celebrate.

How can one capture the work that this place has done since 1998? Pwoje Espwa Sud has been an oasis of hope for so many – children, staff, and volunteers; it has filled hungry bellies, provided laughs for sad souls, and given faith to those who had given up. God bless the children, staff, volunteers, donors, supporters, Matante, and Father Marc. Here’s to 20 more years of learning and love!