Tuesday, March 29, 2011


While traveling through La Savanne (The town of misery)
we happened upon this restaurant, Bondye Konn Tout Bagay (God Knows Everything Restaurant).


I am.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

28 Years

Today I celebrate 28 years of life.

I celebrate the family that gave me life, and has watched me grow for almost three decades. The family that has shaped me into who I am. Has taught me to be independent, strong willed, and compassionate. The family that has gently guided me along my journey. Has shared in my successes, errors, and tears. The family that has given me roots. Grounded me, and will continue to grow with me for decades to come.

Today I celebrate the friends of past, present, and future- the ones who have taken other paths, the ones who still walk beside me, and the ones that wait for me up ahead, to leave an impact on my journey.

Today I celebrate and accept the gifts of life. With open arms I receive the truth. The freshly picked flowers. The birthday wishes wrapped in smiles and hugs. The gift of dance, song, and art. With all the thanks of my being, I receive these gestures. The gestures that cannot be bought, but only given by Him and shared by His children.

Today I celebrate the 28th year of my life in Haiti. I carry the love of my family and friends from home in my heart, and see the love of my family and friends in Haiti in front of me. I feel the strength of the two combined in my soul.

As I look ahead to the next day of my 28th year, I feel secure. Secure in who I am, where I am going, and what the future has in store for me.

Thank you world, for celebrating the past 28 years with me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Walking in Your Feet

If I spent the day walking in your feet, what would I see?

Would I struggle?
Through mud, water, and weeds?
Would I feel pain?
From glass, rocks, and debris?
Would my feet become callous?
From cuts too deep, and bruises too fresh?
If I spent the day walking in your feet, what would I see?

If you spent the day walking in my feet, do you know what you would see?
You would see hope.
You would feel comfort.
You would persevere.

But your feet are yours.
And my feet are mine.
I cannot take away your struggle.
I cannot take away your pain.
I cannot remove your callouses.

But take my shoes.
I will walk beside you.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Schweitzer Made It

I have been convinced that my blog posts are sent out into space and seen by umm.... my Mom... but apparently (and thankfully) I am wrong. I do have a few followers out there some of them being...

Our friends from Missouri (remember the ones that were stuck here during the manifestations in December?) and they safely made it to Espwa a short while ago.

Tonight we will be celebrating their arrival with the ever-popular... Spektak. (Singing, dancing, and guitar playing by our artistic children.)

It is always good to meet new friends, but even better to welcome old friends back.

So.. to the Schweitzer group- welcome home. And to new friends thinking of coming... N'ap tann ou. (We will be waiting.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011


The following are purely my observations that I have made over the past week in regards to the election-

* Real Men Wear Pink (and are bald)
* 70 year old women like loud rap music as long as it earns votes
* "Subliminal Messages" in order to persuade voters consists of people screaming into megaphones
* Haitians are poetic and can compose more "You need to Vote" jingles than I have fingers and toes
* Candidates had better be photogenic because their face will be posted in obscure places
* When Haitians start to sing and dance, the UN starts to get nervous
* Tear gas does not scare Haitians
* Motorcycle parades can stop traffic
* Election day takes a lot of preparation- don't plan on shopping the day before
* Nobody is above bribery

Election Day Tomorrow.

The U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince issued the following Warden Message on March 18, 2011:

The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is issuing this Warden Message to remind the U.S. Citizen Community in Haiti of the potential for elections-related violence throughout Haiti for the duration of the elections period. Such civil disturbances can erupt quickly anywhere and without warning, and often are associated with the release of elections news. Disturbances may include attacks on government or private facilities, residences, and businesses. Violent acts are often politically motivated and while attacks may target specific people or interests, the potential for bystanders suffering collateral damage can be great. U.S. citizens should have plans for sheltering in place in the event that civil unrest limits their travel and access to transportation links and businesses.

U.S. citizens are advised to use the days leading up to Election Sunday (March 20th) to buy groceries, supplies, and any other necessities to be prepared should civil disturbances disrupt normal travel and commerce. The Embassy also recommends against all non-essential travel and outings on Election Sunday. It is expected that local law enforcement assets will be used to secure polling stations thereby diminishing their response capability for travelers in the event of an emergency. Please monitor your radio, email accounts, and SMS messages for any security announcements.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Election Time.

Well, the day we all have been waiting for is just around the corner.

A week from today, Haitians will vote on their next president. Who will it be? Former first lady, Madame Mirelande Manigat? Or popular international Kompa singer, Michel Martelly (Sweet Micky)? The campaigning has really picked up a notch the past couple weeks, and Ra-Ra's (parades) for preferred candidates have been spotted throughout the streets. One thing is for sure- Martelly is the candidate of choice here in the South. His bright pink "Vote for Me" signs are pasted everywhere from electrical posts to motorcycles to donkeys.

Last night, in an attempt to boost her supporters in the South, 70 year old Manigat threw a concert in Les Cayes... with Haitian Rap Kreyol groups as the performers. She also strategically placed extremely large trucks, sporting extremely large speakers, spreading extremely loud Rap/ Top 20's music until 1 am all over Les Cayes. Did I hear it? You bet I did... Manigat, bless her heart, placed one of said trucks directly across the street from my house... I felt like I was INSIDE of the speakers. (Think she was trying to win over the younger generation?)

Not my best night sleep. If I could, I would vote for "Tet Kale" (The bald guy) just because he did not disturb my beauty sleep.

So who do you think it will be? Madame Manigat- matron of Rap? ... Or #8, Tet Kale (the bald guy) Sweet Micky?

Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring is in the Air!

Kind of a silly post... but I couldn't help myself!

This morning a little brown goat came up to greet me while I was drinking my coffee.

"I am going to call you Chocolate!" I told the goat.

Not but thirty seconds later, a little white goat came up to greet me.

"And I am going to call you Vanilla!"

And wouldn't you know it... three seconds after that came the smallest of them all...



A child that holds a special place in my heart and my Mom's- Fery. Mom, this picture was ordered to be sent to you. Your Godchild turns 17 at the end of this month. Can you believe it?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Local TOMS Distribution

In order to assist with the distribution of THOUSANDS of Kiddy TOMS Shoes, EDUplus has decided to provide four Espwa graduates with an opportunity for a part time job distributing shoes in impoverished neighborhoods in and around Les Cayes.

Directed by Mackentoche, the guys have contacted the local mayors of the cities to gain their approval to distribute TOMS Shoes to children house by house. Every afternoon, the guys take their notebook, shoes, and head out. They are recording the neighborhood in which they distribute, the name of each child from each house, and the size shoe each child receives.

The response has been extremely positive. The community is excited to receive the gifts for the children, the children love their shoes, and the guys feel a sense of pride and responsibility for Espwa and TOMS. It has been great.

Below are a few pictures of the distributions in Fon Fred and Madame Comb.

We hope to continue to build a relationship with TOMS and allow for these four young guys to continue to earn a little bit of money part time. It's amazing the sense of community and togetherness that can be built with something as small as a pair of shoes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I was in town the other day, and, like any other day in town, I was approached by a couple 'street kids'. I had seen them before, well, maybe not their particular eyes and smile, but "them"- the torn clothes that look like rags, the dust covered feet, the empty hand outstretched. "Them". Their presence can feel claustrophobic, their words can fall on deaf ears. Street kids.

When they called out "amingo" (friend in "spanish"), I turned, winked, and kept walking. I was in a bit of a hurry. Again, they did not seem familiar to me, as so many of them have come to be. The first one called out again and held up his rag. The second one told me to "give him one dollar". I shook my head and continued walking. As I walked away, the conversation between the two went something like this-

"Paige said don't ask for money. Paige said if you help someone, like dust off a car or carry a box you will get money. But don't beg. Help."


I guess I had seen those particular eyes and smile before. I guess my words hadn't fallen of deaf ears like their words often fall on others'.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women's Day

To some, today means Tuesday. To others, it means Mardi Gras... Fat Tuesday... or Spring Break. In Haiti, today is Women's Day. Today we recognize the women of the world. The mothers, sisters, nieces, and daughters. Today, the women of Espwa celebrated with our sisters in the Les Cayes prison.

Bearing gifts of lotion, soap, and sanitary napkins, myself, Linda, our child care director Bernonie, and a team of young college girls from North Carolina loaded up our vehicle to celebrate the life of Woman. Our friend from the UN, Danielle, and a Les Cayes policewoman were able to arrange a small "party"- juice and an hour and a half outside of their cell- to honor the women incarcerated. It was a moment of solidarity. Led by an inmate with the face of an angel, we sang, danced, presented our gifts, and Bernonie gave a speech worth remembering:

"...Today is our day. Today, all women unite. The merchant women in the streets carrying baskets of fruit... The women at home caring for their children... the women working desk jobs... the teachers, the police officers, the prisoners. Today, we are one. Today, we remember our rights. Our rights that allow us to never be defeated. Our rights that give us the power to speak our minds. Our rights that will let nobody take advantage of us. Our right to say no. Today we gather together. Today is our day..."

Today, we weren't American women, Canadian UN women, Haitian policewomen, and Incarcerated women.
Today, we were just women.
Today, we were one.

Monday, March 7, 2011


This is Dikenson. Dikenson was a "child of Espwa" way back in the day- before I started coming. When he was a teenager, he decided to move to Port au Prince, and then the Dominican Republic. He was doing well in the DR as a plumber's assistant until his accident.

Dikenson's roommate had been fighting with his girlfriend, and as revenge, the girlfriend decided to go to her boyfriend's house and throw battery acid on him... only Dikenson answered the door, not the boyfriend. Thankfully, Dikenson had quick reflexes and turned his head, protecting it from the burn to come. The acid dripped down his neck, back, and shoulder, burning through him. (You can see some of the scarring on his neck.) After a year of surgery, skin graphs, and physical therapy, Dikenson has healed well. He is now back in Les Cayes, frequenting Espwa daily in hopes of finding a job.

He has trouble raising his arm, making physical activity difficult, but he is eager to work. Dikenson came back from the DR scarred and discouraged, and was welcomed by his grandmother and his seven nieces and nephews to take care of. He is struggling to help them, but is feeling defeated. I wish that we could offer him a job, but we are not in a place to do so right now. Sometimes, life here is extremely hard.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Got a phone call yesterday from the prison- they were out of food. Thankfully, we have a small amount of food on reserve right now, and I was able to jump in the car with Linda and Jhony to bring them 20 boxes of vitamin-enriched rice. This will last 2 days.

Upon arrival, I spoke to a friend who works with the Canadian UN at the prison. They are there in hopes of providing "training and assistance" to improve the police system in Haiti. Is it working? To quote my friend- "some days we take three steps forward... and then the next day we take four steps back." My friend said that the reason there is no food in the prison is because there are "administrative issues"... what does this mean?

It means that the administration in PaP is behind on their payments for the food and delivery company that delivers food to the prisons. So they are refusing to deliver any more food. The Les Cayes head chief of police went to PaP for a meeting today. He learned that they will not be receiving any more food until PaP decides to pay their outstanding bill.

This is RIDICULOUS!! Who is ultimately suffering here? Not the administrative staff who will go home and have a nice meal of rice and beans. Not the delivery company who will get to go home and sit around a table with their family. But the prisoners- the children, the women, and the men in prison are going to starve to death because of an administrative battle.

My friend from the UN said that even the head of police is purchasing food out of his own pocket to feed the prisoners. The UN is looking into other organizations that would be willing to send food to the prison. But... as we often find... who wants to help prisoners? They deserve to be suffering, right?... They deserve to starve to death in hell, right?...

Does anyone out there know a journalist who needs a story? How about this one- "Haitian Prisoners Starve Until Pockets Filled."