Meet Joel & Sony

Joel and Sony hold a special place in many of our hearts. We first met Sony several years ago, hanging out in the yard of a local orphanage we frequent. As a “street kid,” he was not part of the orphanage and couldn’t attend the school there.  We’d see him on every trip, just hanging out in that same yard.  It took us a few years to really get to know him and hear his family’s difficult story.  Espwa has been supporting his education for the past two years.  SonyAt the same time, and unbeknownst to our team, one of the families in our network, the Hoobler’s, formed a relationship with Sony’s brother, Joel.  They grew to sincerely admire his work ethic at school and in the support of his family.  This trustworthy young man had been slowly working to build his family a home with whatever income he could scrape together.

If you know our story at Espwa, you understand that we desire to partner with our Haitian friends in positive ways.  We strive to be a “hand up, not a hand out,” building relationships based on trust and commitment. We seek to walk through life with our friends, partnering with them, getting their input, and building them up as productive friends. So when the Hoobler’s approached us with an idea to partner with Joel and Sony in a bigger way, we were excited.

Building HomeWe crafted an agreement with Joel where he will become an apprentice for our farming project lead, Jovenel.  Joel will work with the farming initiative over the next year, assisting Jovenel and at the same time, gaining much mentoring and support in a skill he’s interested in learning.  In exchange, we’ll assist Joel with funds that can be put toward the completion of his family’s home.  This opportunity will bring accountability, teach new skills, and hopefully set him up for a bright future.  We also plan to work with Sony to see what skills and desires he has and try to match him with a project or small business opportunity that is the best fit for his long term success.

We can only do this with your generous support.  Please visit the fundraising page below to hear more about the project!

Help Build a Home


Peace & Joy Initiatives

If you’ve followed our story with the Peace & Joy families over the past several years, you’ve hopefully seen the children flourish after placing them back into stable families (as opposed to the rundown orphanage we found them in).  Since then, our long-range vision has been to collaborate with the adult family members and help empower them with stable employment. When we first tried to implement this plan in 2015, we became aware of a savings collective that each family was participating in, called a “sol.” We didn’t want to disrupt the self-developed initiative, so we’ve been in a holding pattern, collecting information about each adult’s gifts, abilities, and resources (called asset-based community development).

Just recently, we’ve felt convicted about helping the families in areas of basic need.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and the resultant flooding and water-borne diseases, it has become more apparent that the families do not have simple infrastructure like improved plumbing and clean drinking water. There is always a risk of serious health problems under these conditions. If you’re familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we have been trying to jump right to ‘esteem’ and ‘self-actualization’ assistance, such as empowering through small business, yet we’ve neglected some basic ‘survival’ and ‘safety’ needs that could dramatically improve quality of life almost instantly.

Through our network, we became aware of an opportunity to secure home toilet service for 15 families.  For about the cost of a cup of coffee, a family receives a portable toilet unit that can be placed in the home, as well as regular waste removal service for an entire month.  The organization, called Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL), employs Haitians at waste treatment centers and uses the recycled compost to help restore Haiti’s heavily deforested landscape.  This is a game-changer for the families and we fully support the sustainable business model that SOIL uses.

We’re also pursuing a partnership with a clean water well organization.  In Haiti, there are a number of NGOs and other entities that have the capability of installing the wells, but we want to make sure we find the right one. It is important to us that the proper research is done prior to installation, and that the sustainability and maintenance of the well is taken into account. More to come on this as it unfolds.

We haven’t made these decisions in a vacuum.  We’ve kept the families involved to ensure these are desired changes, and we’ve given them a stake in the implementation process. We know that forming these types of dignifying, mutually respectful relationships is the only way to build trust and develop the community for the long-term. Thank you to all who’ve shown an interest in supporting these projects – we’re excited to see this next frontier in the families’ journey out of poverty.


*Featured image courtesy of the SOIL website, www.oursoil.org, showing a family getting trained on how to use the new unit.


Espwa’s Clean Water Initiative

Have you ever worried that the water in your home is contaminated?  When was the last time your children were gravely sick due to drinking poor quality water?  For many Haitians, these fears are daily occurrences.

Sadly, the picture from our January trip above looks eerily similar to photos taken many years ago on our first few trips.  Still littered with trash and human/livestock waste, this waterway that cuts through Cap Haitien showcases the continued need for clean water in Haiti.  Waterborne diseases, such as cholera, are rampant in many communities that suffer from poor sanitation and contaminated water.  Throughout last year and especially after Hurricane Matthew, we partnered with our medical director on the ground, Dr. Maklin, to fight the spread of waterborne diseases.  Your generous donations have gone to both preventative measures (bleach, buckets, aqua tabs, hand sanitizer, and soap) and to education on how to protect from spreading the diseases.

Yet we are still experiencing a global water crisis.  Consider these global facts¹:

  • 842,000 people die every year due to diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene
  • 2.4 billion people live without adequate sanitation
  • Studies have shown that school attendance rises as time to collect water is reduced

These statistics become real when we interact with patients at New Hope Hospital, or talk with our Peace & Joy Families. That’s why we’re so excited to share some news about a clean water initiative that will impact the community where the majority of our Peace & Joy Families live (Quartier-Morin).  We socialized the idea of a clean water well with the families and received an enthusiastic response.  The families contributed to the decision by selecting the ideal location for the community.  Right now, we’re pursuing partners who specialize in this work so that we can take the next steps.  We can’t wait to see the boost to their neighborhood and the excitement that results from this opportunity.

Though we are still working on a cost estimate to complete the project, we estimate $2,500 – $5,000 based on data from similar installations.  These costs include long-term maintenance of the well, which we hope will also provide a job for a local Haitian.  To make a contribution to this cause, please click the link below!


1. See the Water Mission Website, https://watermission.org/water-crisis/


New Life at New Hope

We are pleased to report that over the past 2 weeks, the first 2 babies have been born at the New Hope Hospital!

You can hear Dr. Maklin’s excitement as he shared the news: “I’m so happy to share the photo of the first baby who is born at New Hope Hospital this morning around 10:00 AM.  Again, endless thanks for making this hospital a reality. A dream comes true!”

Here’s to many more babies and many more dreams coming true in Haiti.

 


Flooding in Cap Haitien

It seems like we were just writing about the heavy rains that resulted from Hurricane Matthew and the waterborne diseases those rains can lead to. Unfortunately, we received word that even more flooding has hit Cap Haitien after many days of sustained heavy rain.  10 people have died in the flooding (to our knowledge), 600+ homes were destroyed, and many vehicles and possessions have simply been swept away.  

Espwa made an emergency fund distribution to Dr. Eugene, who purchased sanitation supplies to hand out to local families affected by the flooding.  Here are a few photos of the distribution taking place this past week.  

If you feel led to contribute to the relief effort, please click the link below and designate your donation for “Flooding Relief.”  

Support Flooding Relief


New Hope is Here!

We received word and some very encouraging photos from Dr. Eugene that the New Hope Hospital had its opening ceremony on Thursday!  If you remember from only 18 months ago, we were standing on a newly poured foundation, with rebar everywhere, but not much else.  Talk about a Herculean effort in such a short amount of time!  

The beauty of this project is that only Haitian labor was used to construct all three floors, all the way down to the finishing touches of tile work and painting.  Some American teams did donate their engineering talents (such as the non-profit, Dlo Geri, which added a working water system throughout the hospital), but day in and day out, Haitians made this hospital come alive.  It has been very exciting to see Dr. Eugene’s dream become a reality.  

In its opening weekend, the hospital saw 51 patients on Friday and 80 on Saturday.  In the pictures that follow, you can even see the microscope and centrifuge donated by Espwa getting some use!

While we’ve supported the hospital construction effort, we know there is more work to be done.  We hope to fill a sea container with medical equipment and other needed items in early 2017.  Be on the lookout for how you can help in the coming months.  There was also a fundraiser started by one of our supporters who is trying to purchase an ambulance for the hospital (click here to see it).  For a community that has never had access to legitimate health care, the hospital is a game changer. We want to ensure it has the tools it needs to remain sustainable for the long haul. 

Can’t wait to send our first medical team down to support Doc and the new hospital next spring.


Hurricane Matthew Relief

Just when you think that Haiti is finally on the road to recovery, natural disaster strikes again.  Hurricane Matthew ripped through the southwestern tip of Haiti before it continued on its path between Cuba and Haiti.  To date, there have been over 1,000 deaths, complete destruction of crops in some areas, and over 60,000 displaced.  

matthewpath

With such a dire situation in the south, it seems somewhat distasteful to tout our better circumstances up in the northwest section of Haiti, which was largely unaffected by the hurricane.  We have heard from our folks on the ground that everyone is safe, and that the city was mainly hit with heavy rains.  All we can say is praise the Lord for this blessing in a time of great need.  

Our in-country medical director, Dr. Eugene, relayed this message: “Thanks to all of you who have reached out to check in with us. We had a lot of rain in Cap-Haitien but not too much damage. Now our main concern is that cholera and other waterborne diseases will be on the rise after the Hurricane. Our hearts are with the thousands of Haitians in shelters across the country and those who did not have shelters to go to.”  

Doc also asked for prayers and for any financial support that could assist with the fight against waterborne diseases.  Without improved sanitation, excess rainwater causes sewage to mix with everything and people always get sick.  Unfortunately, we will continue to have this problem until the infrastructure of Haiti improves, to include better sanitation systems and more effective rainwater runoff areas.  The heavy deforestation in Haiti (caused largely by the desire to make charcoal for personal use and for sale) has had many third order effects, and this happens to be one of them.  Without the needed trees that absorb much of the runoff, water and mudslides plague the mountainous areas. 

Even before the recent rains, Dr. Eugene has been passionate about fighting cholera. He’s traveled to many neighboring regions to distribute sanitation supplies, such as chlorine, soap, hand sanitizer, Aquatabs, and other hygiene items that prevent the spread of waterborne diseases.  This time has been no different.  The photos below show his latest distribution for the community surrounding St. Anthony’s clinic, where he serves each Monday. 

We want to say thank you to all of the supporters who have and will donate to this cause.  Through your efforts, Doc has been able to purchase the needed sanitation supplies and distribute them throughout the areas affected by heavy rains.  Thank you again!