Sunday, April 24, 2011


Tomorrow I head to Port au Prince, and then back to Arizona on Tuesday.

My heart is heavy because I always hate leaving Espwa, but I am excited to see my family, friends, and finally bring Wilson to see where I am from.

Please keep following my blog. I will still be updating about Haiti, but will also add a twist- A Haitian's first experience of the United States. We have some big plans- camping, Disneyland, San Fran, California, and hopefully a trip to the East Coast as well as Missouri.

Again- keep following. I can't tell you how much I appreciate knowing you are out there.



Friday, April 22, 2011


I think I saw the worst thing I have ever seen in my life.

On Tuesday, I went with a few visitors up to Tiburon to deliver food to our primary school. There had been word that a sixteen year old former Espwa child had been burned at his home in Tiburon. We investigated the situation.

Ezekiel had been sleeping on the ground while is family was cooking dinner. His father was taking the large pot of boiled beans off the charcoal burner when he tripped. The hot beans spilled. They landed on Ezekiel in one of the worst places imaginable- right below his belt.

By the time we made it to Ezekiel, it had been over a week since the burn. His thigh, lower stomach, and privates had third degree burns. His family tried a home remedy of herbal cream to help with the pain, but still, a layer of charred black skin had grown back. In some areas, there were pussy infections. Ezekiel was wearing his mother's long skirt because he could not stand the feeling of anything on the charred skin.

Ezekiel needed a hospital. We loaded him into the car, along with his mother, and took him on the four hour trek down the bumpy, rainy mountain to the hospital in Les Cayes. I don't know how he did it. My hinny was hurtin' by the end of the trip, I can't imagine if I had to sit and suffer the trip with third degree burns.

After spending the night in the hospital with wet bandages on the charred skin, Father Marc, Brother Robert, Johnny, and I went to check on his status. He and his mother both looked exhausted- she had to sleep on the hospital floor with not even a sheet as a cover. The doctor and a team of student nurses appeared to scrape the charred skin from Ezekiel's body, starting with his leg. Mind you, this process is done in the middle of a large room, stretcher bed, after stretcher bed. Ezekiel is completely exposed. Privacy in Haiti is non-existent.

The doctor proceeds to scrape. Ezekiel squeezes my hand and breathes heavily as layers of char disappear. Black away. First layer of pink gone. Raw, red skin appears. Ezekiel breaths heavily and squeezes harder. The doctor moves from thigh to more sensitive areas. I think my hand will break and tears threaten to slip over the brim of my eyes. I don't know how he isn't screaming. The sensitivity of the area is incomprehensible, and the process is tedious. After what seems like days, all of the charred skin is gone, and all that is left is red, raw skin.

Fast forward to today-

Ezekiel is here at Espwa staying in the Guest House. He has a nurse come and clean his wounds twice a day, while the rest of the day he lays in bed, naked from the waist down, unable to make big movements. The bandaging process everyday consists of scraping off the burn cream from the night before, wetting all the burns with a wet cloth, and then reapplying the cream and bandages. This is going to be a long, painful healing process. I don't know how he smiles. I cringe just seeing his injuries. I guess it is just one more lesson that has been taught to me.

The tolerance of pain and suffering here is unbelievable, but the rate of recovery and determination is unfathomable.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I feel so blessed because recently I have been working on our new sponsorship program. This program will allow people to sponsor individual children and their needs. I love this idea, and what I love even more is that I am learning things about the children that I never knew in all the years I have known them. For instance, Delince.

Anyone who has been to Espwa in the last year definitely knows Delince, if for nothing else, because he works in the Guest House. He has always been interested in Public Health, loves folklore dancing, and is becoming fluent in English. He is a popular face around Espwa, and has been for the past seven years.

But yesterday, when I was chatting with Delince, I saw Delince in a completely different light. I looked at him with such admiration. Where he is now, with the assistance of Espwa, and where he came from are two completely opposite ends of the spectrum.

Delince is from Camp Perrin. His mother and father were happily married when his father passed away in a car accident. Delince's father tragically left this life leaving his wife, five children, and a new baby in it's nine month about to be born. Delince's mother was at a loss. She couldn't work, couldn't support her children, and had just lost her husband. She had no choice but to give Delince up to be a restevek (child slave) at less than ten years old.

Delince can't remember how long he was a restevek. He was promised schooling and proper care, but those promises were broken. He had lost his father and was separated from his family with the promise of school, but instead turned into a mistreated child servant. After an unknown amount of time, someone brought Delince to Espwa.

This is where Delince was given newfound Hope. This is where Delince blossomed and came to be the Delince we all know and love. And Espwa would not be the same without him.

Many will say this story is not uncommon, and they are right. But though this story is a common one, it is his. It is his reality, and one we should listen to, reflect on, and admire him for overcoming.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Jean Raymond Update

Thank you for the emails, messages, and interest you have shared regarding Jean Raymond. More than one of you have mentioned the organization Smile Train, and we have successfully made contact with them.

After a 45 minute operation free of charge, Jean Raymond will have a mouth he can feel proud of.

Smile Train will be in Fermathe (which is 45 minutes outside of PaP) in June. Many of you have asked how you can help sponsor Jean Raymond's medical expenses. Since Smile Train gifts the operation, there is no need to sponsor medical expenses, but we do need sponsors for Jean Raymond and his mother's travel expenses.

To sponsor Jean Raymond and his Mother will cost roughly $100 US round trip. This includes: safe transportation, meals, and lodging for the night.

If you would like to sponsor Jean Raymond and his Mother's travel costs, please let us know.

If we receive more than one sponsor, we can find other children like Jean Raymond to receive the same services.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Ray

Their life changed at 4:35 pm, January 12, 2010. Their hard work, accomplishments, and sunshine disappearing into a cloud of dust. The mementos of their lives spent together, for better and for worse, crumbled into a thousand pieces in a matter of minutes. Only a small ray of sunshine was left- their youngest daughter.

Not only did the Maxine family lose every single one of their material possessions, they lost their two eldest daughters, 12 and 10. A happy family of five turned to a family of three within seconds. The youngest instantly became an only child. Their smiles immediately erased. Their lives changed forever.

What was turning out to be a normal afternoon in Port au Prince ended in tragedy. Father Alabre Maxine had just closed his store for the night, and was headed home. Mother Maxine was out fetching water from the well while two oldest daughters where inside studying- one in the dining room, the other in her bedroom. Youngest daughter was playing in the yard, waiting for Mother to come back with the water to cook dinner and bathe.

Then the ground split open. The family store crumbled to pieces. The house pancaked to the ground. The three children were lost, buried under the rubble. When the ground stopped shaking, they ran. Home. Mr. and Mrs. Maxine were distraught. They screamed out their daughters' names. They clawed at the heavy cement, hoping to hear them. Hoping to see them- catch a glimpse of their long, dark hair. Their pale, beautiful skin. Silence.

They dug and clawed all night. Through the darkness they blindly clung to any glimmer of hope and chance, but they faded as the sun rose. Then they heard a voice. A mouse's cry of salvation under the rubble. In a space no larger than a bucket, their glimmer of sunshine announced her life. She squeezed out of her grave by the grace of God physically unharmed. Her sixth year will be followed by a seventh. They lost everything but one, tiny ray of sunshine.

But now they struggle, still trying to climb out of the ruins of their life. For the past year, Alabre Maxine, his wife, and his only daughter have been sleeping on the floor of kind souls' homes. They left Port au Prince in hopes of starting over in Les Cayes. They can never return to Port au Prince- the thought of it causes the child to panic and cry. She is petrified of Port au Prince, the city that stole her sisters. He tries to find a job, she tries to find a place to stay for the night. Their comfortable life gone. They have been reduced to homeless beggars.

They need assistance. They need support. They need something to get them on their feet again. A new ray of sunshine. Something to help them as they heal and attempt to start over as a family of three. Formerly a family of five.


There are thousands and thousands of little feet in Les Cayes and up and down the coast that will be protected from the mud, bugs, and germs. Thank you, TOMS Shoes.

Not only are thousands of children sporting TOMS, EDUplus was able to provide four young men with temporary jobs distributing the shoes.

Let's hope TOMS is as happy as we are and they send us some more. Let me tell you- there is a high demand for TOMS around here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Something to be said...

Three things to never ask a woman: her age, her weight, her bra size.
Three things to never ask a man: if a woman is prettier than you, to take out the trash, his "shoe" size.
Three things to just never talk about in general: religion, politics, the health care system.

Not going there...but I am going to make reference- to our health care system.

Take a look at this face. Jean Raymond's face.

Sweet, meek, mild, Jean Raymond came to Espwa today with his Mother asking for medical assistance. Jean Raymond has lived his nine little years with this lip.

When I saw Jean Raymond I immediately thought of my youngest sister. My baby sister was born with a syndrome that blessed her with a pharangyeal flap in the back of her throat instead of showing on her lip. Because she was born in the United States, at age two, she was able to have a surgery to close the pallet, and after speech therapy, she was transformed into a typical little girl. But not Jean Raymond. I can't help but think...

We complain, we make comments, we hate it. But what is the alternative? Nine years of discomfort and people looking at you funny?
So what do we do? We look for a doctor from the good old U-S-of-A to help Jean Raymond out.
A doctor from the healthcare system we complain about, but keeps our children from suffering fixable pains.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Esthere and Westerline Bien-aime are sisters who exemplify their name- Beloved.

At four and possibly six, the only stability the two have known is the stability of their Mother’s love. They have never had the stability of a breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They have never had the stability of laying their head down on a pillow at night. They have never had the stability of a roof over their heads. Growing up on the streets with their mother, their tiny eyes have seen too much.

Each night they searched out a new shelter- an abandoned lottery stand, a fallen house. Each day they foraged for food. Then they found Espwa. Because of her love for her daughters, Esthere and Westerline’s mother asked Espwa to provide her Beloved with security.

Now, Esthere and Westerline go to school, receive three meals a day, and have a pillow to lay their heads on every night.
Now, they have Hope.

Sweet Mr. President Micky

The streets were packed. The noise level would blow your eardrums. The stakes raised high. The pink photos flying.

And not a soul wore a frown.

It is still hard to believe that after a year of suffering, pain, and feeling defeated, the people's voices were finally heard. The people finally came out on top. And, man, were they flying.

I found myself driving home in the middle of a Ra-Ra last night, just minutes after the announcement the South has been waiting for was made. The energy was intense. Children and adults alike paraded and celebrated the answer to their prayers. Sweet, Sweet Micky. His music was playing on the radio- the thrill of kompa a soundtrack to the day. It was beautiful.

Not sure how many of you know this... but Martelly and I go way back. My first encounter with him at a Bay Klub concert in Les Cayes a few years ago. My skin color was like a beacon of light attracting the artist to make small talk before his show. Over the years we haven't communicated on a regular basis, but just enough for me to realize that he really does hope to help his country. He and I have spoke of his Foundation and of Pwoje Espwa. Of how we both want to help the South and the children of Haiti.

Well now Martelly, here is your chance. Here is your chance to prove to your people that your song and dance were not just a show- but a foresight into the future. Here is your chance to show your faithful followers, the ones who suffered for you, that you will prevail. Here is your chance to bring your country, the one we all treasure, up out of the rubble. And we will be here to help you. We believe in you. In change. In Haiti.

So, please Sweet Mr. President Micky- call me!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Today is the day the results for the next President of Haiti will be announced.

Many people assume that because Haiti is a third world country, they lack access to the technology we are so accustomed to in the U.S. and all over the rest of the world. Those assumptions are wrong. Technology has played a huge part in this election process. Along with messages being thrown across the radio and television airwaves, text messages have taken over telephones. Right now, text rumor has it that Madame Manigat won the election 51%.

IF this is the case, and IF these results are given tonight... I am thinking it is going to be deja vu of December.

This morning coming into work I already saw a lot of UN cars and trucks patrolling the city and main road. People that can afford it have been stocking up on goods... just in case. Most schools were closed, though we held classes this morning.

We will see what happens tonight, after dark. Keep Haiti in your thoughts and prayers.

I will update as soon as possible.