Friday, July 24, 2009

How we got a Cut Toe Epidemic...

"Paige. My toe is cut. It hurts." *sniff*

"Oh, no, Pierre. Come on. That hurts, doesn't it?"

"mmmhmm." *sniff*

"Ok. Let's wash it off, and bandage it up."

*sniff*   "Ok."

"There you go. All set. Just don't walk through the mud.  Here. Take a cookie to go because you were a great patient."

"Mesi."  *sniff* 

(The next day)

"Paige. My toe still hurts." *sniff*

"Ok. Let's take a look... Looks much better. But here, take a cookie to go."

"Mesi." *sniff*

(The next day)

"Paige. My toe hurts."

"Ok. Let's look. Nope. Nothing wrong with it... but here is a cookie."


(The next day)


"Pierre. Your toe is all better, remember?"

"But now I cut the other toe... and Eric cut his too... see?... We need you to wash them off... and we need a cookie..."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Friends

Here is a shot of Fran, myself, and Tony.  We really had a great time for the week they were here.  We had a water balloon fight with the kids, the guys brought down a projector and showed movies every night to the boys, they painted the school, and just had a good time with the little ones. 
Delince and myself filling water balloons for the big fight. (photo by Fran)

The boys watching Spiderman.  Projector and movie provided by Fran and Tony. (photo by Fran)

Alexis and Fran pictured repainting one of the secondary school buildings. 

Baobab's Music Video

We just had some truly awesome visitors down here for a week.  Tony and Fran are from Massachusetts, and heard about Espwa through Peter and Linda.  Tony is into making videos, and Fran is into photography.  They both were great with the boys, and so encouraging and helpful with our music groups Baobab and Easy Cross.  

Here is a shot Fran took of Tony working on a music video for Baobab.  He took all the footage back to the States, but once he sends me the final copy I will work on getting it on my blog! Stay tuned!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ti Wilgins

Ti Wilgins fell asleep outside of English class yesterday afternoon. I snapped this shot just as he was waking up.

Ti Ti

Saw Ti Ti sitting on the ledge of Matante's house eating a mango and had to snap a pic.  

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Days of School

We launched the summer English program this week- and it has been a great success!  This year we are really working on English literacy, and not just focusing on conversational English.  So far it is working.  We have five classes a day, starting with preschool and ending with adults.  Each class has between 20-25 students... with a waiting list.
Biondy with his 7-12 year olds practicing the days of the week and months of the year at calendar time. 
Two former students, now turned teachers- Nesly and Biondy have great teaching strategies, and their students love them!
Aurel (a teacher's assistant) and myself helping the preschoolers with an alphabet puzzle. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dental Hygiene on Ille-a-Vache

Yesterday Fritzner, three Public Health Boys, and myself went out to the island of Ille-a-Vache to do a presentation on Dental Hygiene for the 75 children of a small school.  My good friend Lori from Phoenix, and her daughter Olivia, were staying on the island, and helped us set up this opportunity for outreach.  Lori supplied all of the toothbrushes, as well as shoes for the children, and our Public Health team educationally entertained the youngsters.  Overall, it was a great experience, and a lot of fun.  On the ride back, Sam, Delense, and Daniel were talking about how they would like to do training like that more often.  Hopefully this is the start of more regular outreach for our Public Health team. 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Missing Teeth

Rubens was playing on the jungle gym the other day, and I just had to snap a shot of him and his missing front teeth.  

Chicken Coop

Yes, I am back in Haiti for the month of July, and am so excited about it!

Yesterday, when I was walking through the village I saw these little chicken coops a couple of the boys made.  I thought they were so cute!  One of them had laid six eggs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Here are a few pictures of Baobab- my Rap Kreyol group and best friends.

  They have been "working in silence" getting ready to produce their CD.  The songs are ready, so hopefully we can get some funding and find a producer that will help them succeed soon. 
In these pictures they are working on dance choreography for Father Marc's anniversary. 

These guys have more hope and drive and dreams than anyone I know. I am going to work like crazy to help the reach their goals so they can make the difference in their country they are planning on making. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

When it rains it pours.

Early this afternoon we were hit my a massive gust of wind which brought in incredible showers. Within seconds we went from calm to chaos.

I have never heard our windmill spin as fast as it did today... and I have been here through hurricanes.  Rains poured down as Linda and I yelled to our potentially sick children to run for cover.  Ignoring our cries, they ran barefoot through the rain pellets collecting falling mangos and dodging flying tree limbs.  Older boys delivered piping that had flown from the roof of the Quad back to us, and Peter took inventory on the roof- having just returned from an operation in the States.

The clouds continued to open up on us when Linda and I noticed this lone goat trying to find cover on the side of the Quad.  He wasn't very smart or successful, as he was standing on the ledge that was facing the falling rain.  He cried his little goat cry, and we debated on whether or not we should help him find cover in the Quad.  Our security guard helped make that decision when he tugged him off his ledge by the string wrapped around his neck, and pulled him away.

Once the storm subsided, Peter and I took a trip down to the village to check on the flooding.  River or road? Can you tell?  Unfortunately, this is a pathway that our children will need to use in order to go to the dining room to eat.  Think of all the bacteria that is gathering in this water, and think of our little ones bare feet.  Elevated pathways would be ideal in the prevention of illnesses during the rainy season.  I am predicting an epidemic of runny noses tomorrow in the clinic...

A Lazy Saturday

I was lucky enough to spend yesterday at the beach with some friends.  We took the car up to Port Salut, planning on relaxing in the sun while listening to music and eating fresh fish.  We were surprised to find, upon arrival, that we now have to pay 50 gourdes to use the public beach.  Either way, the weather was gorgeous, the beach beautiful, and the company lovely.   

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our Little Girls

Sleeping Child

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
May angels watch me through the night
And wake me with the morning light.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Riding Around

Before Yves took his car away, we "borrowed" it.  As you can see, little Dave loves it! At first, he was super scared of it.  He squirmed like a little fish trying to get out of Jean Robert's arms.  But, after he saw his little buddy Benito riding in the other one, he was game.  The two cars had little races around the quad, and we even took them outside of the quad for a bit... until it got a little out of control with children anxious to be passengers, and teenagers anxious to be taxi drivers. 
The car is meant for Yves, our neighbor who is confined to a wheelchair.  We were worried he wouldn't be able to work it because his upper body strength seemed weak.  Boy, did he prove us wrong!  We strapped him in this morning, and off he went... hitting a few bumps along the way, but he will get the hang of it!  I snapped a couple pictures as he rode off laughing, and after looking up from my camera I saw a group of employees, kids, and neighbors smiling.  It was so cool to see how excited everyone was for Yves as he pedaled his new red car away. 

The first thing Dave said to me this morning was "machine".  Trying to appease him and a couple other toddlers, I took the second car out of the quad to give them a ride.  It worked out nicely because all the big kids were in school, so there was no demand to share.  I took them all the way down the road and back, and by the time we reached the quad, my arms were burning from exhaustion!! 

Monday, May 11, 2009


Some of my best friends in the world live at Pwoje Espwa.  All I have to say is- Nothing compares to dancing to Celine Dion under the Haitian stars. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Street Kids Dreams

Waiting is never lonely in Haiti when your eyes and heart are open.  

Today I was waiting with Amanda by the bay, looking out at the water when a street kid walked up to us, hoping to sell us a mango.  

I asked him how much his mango was selling for, and he told me a Haitian dollar.  I reached into my bag, and told him that I didn't have a dollar to buy the mango, but would he take a mango instead?

He laughed, told me I was clever, made the mango trade, and ran off to his group of street kid friends sitting on the dock.  A couple moments later, he and his friends wandered up, still laughing about my witty suggestion for a trade.  Being that Amanda and I had a surplus of mangos back home, I handed my personal sack of mangos to the boys, and we sat savoring the sweet taste and enjoying the ocean breeze in quiet contentment. 

As mango juice dripped down chins, I asked where they each came from, how many siblings they had, and whether or not they went to school.  They each answered in turn, most of them coming from the area, not one having less than four siblings, and a couple lucky to currently be going to school. 

Wanting to get away from typical conversation, and being that I myself have recently been pondering the question, I asked them each what they wanted to be when they grew up.  A doctor. A musician. A mechanic. A singer. An artist. A farmer. A police officer.  They were each confident and decisive in their answer, and left little room for hesitation.  

The future doctor was laughed at when he responded.  As, according to his buddies, there is no way you are going to have luck at becoming a doctor if you don't have luck at going to school.

The farmer was serious in his hopes of aiding the hungry bellies of his country, and the police officer was teased and poked fun at because right now the police don't reside high on the list of street kids friends. 

I looked into each excited face, and listened to each dream that seemed so tangible when thought of in conversation.  We conversed a little more about the importance of school, and the difference in education between small schools and big schools, and then it was time for Amanda and me to end our wait. 

The boys smiled at us, and started to turn and walk away.  Hey, I shouted to them.  A last thought entering my mind.  Don't forget what we have talked about, and don't forget to hold onto your dream of what you are going to be when you grow up.  Keep it in your head, and one day, maybe you will reach it.  They nodded their heads, smiled, and turned.

I watched our future doctor, musician, police officer, singer, mechanic, artist, and farmer walk away, and asked myself- 

Will the dreams in these little heads ever get the chance to become a reality?  Or will reality make an appearance and squash these dreams?  

I don't know the answer to these questions, but I do know that they should have a chance.  The last question is- 

Will we give it to them? 

Friday, May 8, 2009

Espwa School Anniversary

Today we celebrated the anniversary of the Espwa schools.  
The chapel was filled with students, teachers, administrators from all three of our schools, as well as Espwa members.  It is hard to put into words the essence of what was felt this morning at 9:00 when Mass began.  

Looking into the eyes of the school members their was a sense of pride.  
In the eyes of the alter servers and chorus- there was hope.
And looking into the eyes of Father Marc- there was love. 

I have said before that Father Marc is an inspiration to me, and that I look up to him.  But today, as I held sleeping Baby John in my arms, and sang Creole hymns with Amanda (poorly sang I might add), I realized that it is not just Father Marc that is an inspiration to me, but the community he has worked to create that truly inspires me.  

The joy at Espwa seeps into my every pore, and is contagious.  It takes a village to raise a child- and let me tell you, this village is raising them right.


It is mango season, and being that Castel Pere is built on an old mango plantation, it is not uncommon to see children knocking mangos out of trees with slingshots, mango juice dripping down faces, and mango pits scattering the ground.  I was hanging out with some of the little ones when Son Son came walking by- straw hat on, mango in mouth.  It was such a classic moment- I had to capture it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brother and Sister. Biondy and Elizabeth.


I was writing out on the balcony this morning.  I looked out at the mango tree and saw these two brothers Gilbert and Evans sitting in silence in the company of one another.  I was inspired.

Sunday School

Amanda has started a Bible study class for the younger children on Sundays during mass.  After the morning prayer in the church, she leads about seventy five little ones over to our secondary school. 

Here, they gather together for a prayer and reading.

After the reading, the students break up into small groups and a group of the older guys-  Gary, Wilson, Fritzner, Biondy, Nesly, Dejeantis, Pascal, and Judex- teach a lesson.

In this picture Gary is teaching a song to his group, and is assisted by Enock. 

The children also do a small activity such as a coloring worksheet or play a game.  They seem to really enjoy it, and it is a great addition to Sunday routine. 

Monday, May 4, 2009


My feet grow with me every day

They take me down all sorts of paths

Sometimes they get dirty along the way

But they always lead me home.


My feet will never stop growing

With my feet I will happen upon new friends

I will leave old ones

But they will always lead me home.


My feet are strong

Sometimes they are cut and calloused

They will help me reach my dreams

But they will always lead me home. 

Ti Moman

"Hey, Paige! Come here!"

"I'm working right now. I'll see you guys in a while."

"I have something for you. Come here."

I stand looking over the balcony. 

"Hold your hand out.  I'll throw it up to you... but DON'T drop it."

I give a suspicious look but hold out my hand.

My gift flies through the air and lands with a smack right in my palm. 

Instinctively my hand closes around the object. It is slimy.

I open my hand to find a small frog. 

It ribbets at me.

I look down at two snickering boys. 

"Thanks, boys.  Can I go back to work now?"

"Wait- you're not scared?"

"Nope. "

I toss the frog back down.  

They toss the frog into a nearby bush, turn, and walk away.

I walk back into my room. 

Timoun Yo

After working all morning it is nice to be able to spend some time in the village with the little ones.  I always find I leave there feeling full... it must be the ten hugs a day thing.  
It is always so easy to find photo ops down there.  Don't really need words to go along with the pictures.