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

Medical Trip March 2017

While our most recent medical mission trip to Cap Haitien departed on March 24th, it actually started the week before with a suitcase packing party.  With each trip, we have to weigh the pros and cons of taking items versus buying in country.  Can we get the medicines we need in country?  Will the medicines have the same effectiveness if not regulated by the FDA?  To alleviate these concerns, we’ve had medicines from Haiti (usually supplied by companies in India) laboratory tested and we’ve determined which ones should be bought in country and which must be hand-carried there.  The packing party filled six suitcases of medical items.

Some of you may have seen our fundraiser for baggage fees on these suitcases.  American Airlines is the only international airline that flies into Cap Haitien, and unfortunately, will not offer us any type of discount or waiver of baggage fees.  On the morning of March 24th, our team entered the airport fully intending to pay an exorbitant fee for all the medical supplies, but a kind-hearted check-in agent heard our story and waived our baggage fees completely!  The money raised for baggage fees could then be spent where it is needed much, much more – for medications purchased in Haiti.  What an amazing start to the trip!

On Saturday and Sunday, the team of American and Haitian providers and nurses, along with translators, worked at New Hope Hospital.  This was the first Espwa medical team in Haiti since the grand opening of the hospital, so this opened up a whole new way to serve more patients.  Our Espwa Medical Director, Jen Schmidt, relayed a story about a patient who evidenced signs of cholera, a terrible water-borne disease that ravages the digestive system and can lead to severe dehydration and death. The patient had traveled very far just to get to New Hope Hospital, where the team was able to pump him with fluids and antibiotics, before being transferred to the nearest cholera treatment center.  Schmidt said, “New Hope Hospital saved that man’s life.”  In an area that has never had hospital coverage, the aptly named New Hope Hospital is like a beacon of hope.  Over the two day period, the team saw more than 200 patients.

Starting on Monday, the team returned to the site of one of Espwa’s first projects, St. Anthony’s Clinic.  Although separated by only around 20 miles, the clinic was a night-and-day change from New Hope.  Without labs and testing or an extensive pharmacy, the team had to rely on their experience in the field – all members of the team have been on medical trips with Espwa in the past – coupled with Dr. Maklin’s intimate knowledge of common Haitian illnesses.  St. Anthony’s is always one of our stops, so many familiar faces greeted the team members.  All told, another 200 patients were seen on Monday and Tuesday at St. Anthony’s.

After a down day on Wednesday, the team served its final day in the Blue Hills community on Thursday.  The team set up a makeshift clinic at the local school building, similar to that of past trips.  The school’s proprietor, Thomas Dieuseul, had a new baby of his own this time around and the team was happy to see her thriving.  The team had a very full day and was able to see over 200 patients at Blue Hills, while furthering our relationship with the community.

The team safely arrived back home on Friday, March 31st after a week of serving at three locations, seeing over 600 patients, and deepening relationships with both our Haitian medical counterparts and the communities we serve.  We keep coming back, because we’re in it for the long-term.  Special thanks to Dr. Eugene Maklin who fights the battle for positive change in the Cap Haitien medical community each and every day.  Until next time!

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,, showing a family getting trained on how to use the new unit.

Espwa on CNN!

Haiti is a captivating place. Its natural beauty, coupled with the rich culture and resilient people make it one of a kind. But the abject poverty continually draws Americans and NGOs in to help ‘fix’ problems. Each person you ask seems to have a different perception of how Haiti became the way it is, as well as why people continue to serve there.

This past week, The Espwa Foundation was featured in a op-ed that highlighted why many Christians serve in Haiti. Two of our projects, Jovenel’s farm and Haitian Creole Tour, were called out specifically as empowering Haitians through relationships built on mutual trust and dignity. Check it out!

Pittsburgh Marathon 2017

Hello all! We wanted to share some news about the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon. This will be our second year participating in the Run for a Reason campaign. Runners can choose to raise money for a charity as they participate in any of the weekend’s races (Full, Half, or Marathon Relay).  The race weekend is May 6 – 7, 2017.

This year, we are excited to announce that two half marathon runners, as well as three marathon relay teams have chosen to run and raise money for Espwa. We look forward to a fun weekend in May.

If you also desire to run for Espwa, please contact us as soon as possible, as the race registration will close on March 31, 2017. To see who’s running for us and to donate to their pages, click the button below:

Support Our Runners

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,

January 2017 Trip Report

From January 4 – 8, 2017, we sent a team of four individuals down to Cap Haitien, Haiti.  The purpose of the trip was to provide training to some of our Haitian team members, as well as explore a few areas that could develop into projects in the future.

At the training event, all of our main project leads were in attendance: Frantz Louis-Charles (Haitian Creole Tour, Peace & Joy), Dr. Eugene Maklin (New Hope Hospital, St. Anthony’s Clinic), Jovenel Joseph (Farming), Paul Guerrier (Peace & Joy), and Pastor Benjamin Fleurant (EBAC Church). While our project leads do speak English at varying proficiencies, we also had two translators to assist. The training session covered many of the principles our organization supports, such as knowing the different stages of poverty alleviation (relief, rehabilitation, and development), as well as ways to avoid paternalism and show dignity to those we serve. Our goal was to better prepare our liaisons on the ground in selecting projects that fall within our mission statement. After a full morning of training, the team all went to lunch and kept the discussion going.

Brady Cillo, Espwa’s Special Projects Director, said of the training, “I felt honored to be able to talk through poverty alleviation with our Haitian project leads. These folks have lived through poverty and had some great insights. It was also an amazing opportunity for brainstorming and connecting some of our diverse projects.”

As Cillo observed, the training allowed our project leads to share ideas and discuss how their varying projects could interact. For instance, the New Hope Hospital has extra land that could be used for farming, and the crops could be used to feed the hospital staff and even patients or family members of patients. Pastor Benjamin expressed that his congregation was interested in a hospital care ministry, which Dr. Maklin was happy to support. These types of interactions were priceless and they reinforced the value in Haitians taking ownership of the change process.

In addition to the training, the team also visited New Hope Hospital. The hospital had opened its doors four months prior, but the relatively empty rooms displayed how much work is still to be done. Dr. Maklin called his staff together for an impromptu appreciation ceremony, complete with a cake and sparkling cider, to say ‘thanks’ to Espwa for our role in supporting the hospital throughout the construction phase. What an honor!

The team also investigated other opportunities for small businesses in the future, such as a sea glass jewelry endeavor, and spoke with several potential project liaisons.  Mike Cillo, owner of DKC Creations, brought down jewelry-making supplies and equipment.  With several students, he spent a day searching for sea glass on Haiti’s beaches, then teaching them how to wire-wrap jewelry from their finds. Another team member tested communications equipment at EBAC Christian Academy in an effort to one day provide enhanced teaching methods to the students there.

Chris Pfeiffer, Espwa Executive Director, and Brady Cillo met with the Peace & Joy families for several hours one morning, while the other team members completed their specific tasks.  The goal was to discuss some upcoming opportunities that we’ve been made aware of, as well as record responses to the asset-based community development packets created by Espwa.  Frantz Louis-Charles and his employee, Michael, worked through the packets with each of the adult family members.

The team spent its last day with Haitian Creole Tour, a prior Espwa project, exploring the rich history of the region at the Citadelle and San Souci Palace.  Haitian Creole Tour had hired transportation, a guide for the tour, and arranged all the details.

It was a great trip and definitely planted some seeds with how we can best use our resources in the coming months and years. Thanks to all who played a part in supporting the team on this trip!

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.


September 2016 Trip Report

With all the other pressing events over the past month and a half, we haven’t taken the time to report on our trip in September 2016.  So here goes!

The September trip was only 5 days, but it sure was memorable.  Longtime supporters and friends of Espwa, the Richardson’s (Dave, Karen, Jensen, and Corey), made their first trip to meet the Peace & Joy Families.  The Richardson’s have been instrumental in supporting the families since our journey began with the children at Peace & Joy Orphanage.  Also on the trip were Espwa board members, Chris Pfeiffer and Joe Shaffer, as well as Scott Lammers.  

The trip began with a quick stop at Jovenel’s farm, and then a long visit with the Peace & Joy Families.  The Richardson’s have known each of the Peace & Joy children by name for years, but this was the first time meeting in person – it was a surreal and joy-filled moment.  And just in time for the new school year, we were able to bless the children with some school supplies donated by the Jacobson Elementary (Chandler, AZ) CATS program.

The next day, the team enjoyed an excursion to Friendship Island with the help of Haitian Creole Tour, as well as a stop at EBAC Orphanage.  Visiting long-term missionaries Alice Wise and Kathy Gouker is always encouraging, and the team was also able to share a jewelry-making experience with several of the older girls at EBAC.  The owners of DKC Creations, Mike & Deb Cillo, had donated jewelry supplies and tools for the trip.  The Richardson’s then led a short workshop that was meant to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of the young women.

The following day, the team visited the amazing progress on the New Hope Hospital, which by the time of this writing is now in operation and seeing patients, as well as St. Anthony’s Clinic.

The final day brought a visit to the Blue Hills area, where Espwa had provided some capital for the community to purchase benches and chalkboards for the school.  This is the same school where Espwa medical teams provide checkups during medical trips.  Haitians from the community used the money to purchase lumber and pay local tradesmen to construct the benches and chalkboards.

Sharing the amazing experiences of Haiti with long-time friends and new supporters alike continually drives our mission.  Until our next trip, thanks to all!

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.  


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!

Anne at College

For those of you who’ve been on a trip with us, you’ve likely been impacted by the loving smile and warm personality of Anne Lormeus.  An EBAC graduate, Anne has translated for our teams, assisted on medical trips, and been part of several Haitian choir albums.  Anne now embarks on a new journey, pursuing an accounting degree in Port au Prince.  Espwa wants to see Anne succeed and has raised enough funds for her first year.  We’ll be taking this a year at a time and monitoring her progress, but we expect big things.  If you would like to contribute to her schooling, click on her photo.  Funds received at this point will go to her second year.

Jovenel’s Dream

If you’ve been following Jovenel’s story for long, you know that he and his Agrolide organization have bigger dreams than simply owning and operating the first farm.  To hear more about Jovenel’s vision, check out the latest in our project video series: 

Thank you so much to Regan Kramer Media for this production.  If you’d like to donate specifically to this project, please click the link below and designate your gift for “New Farm” at our donation site, Razoo.   

Support the New Farm

Toxic Charity Review

Our latest review covers the book Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It by Robert Lupton.

toxic-charityToxic Charity provides an excellent reminder that we must always think critically about how our giving impacts those we seek to help.  It shines a spotlight on the problem of charities and churches who believe they are helping the poor, but are really engaging in activities that create dependency and destroy dignity.  

As an example, Lupton illustrates a ministry that for years had collected Christmas gifts to distribute to families in the inner city.  I’m sure you’ve heard of something similar.  Over the years, a trend was observed. When the donors would distribute gifts to the families, the kids were obviously excited…they were getting new toys. The mothers in the home would grin and bear it for the sake of the kids. But the fathers were nowhere to be found. They would leave the room or choose not to be home altogether.  The whole affair cut right at their dignity as male role models and providers for their families.  Over time, the ministry morphed into a Christmas store where community members could come and find bargains, using their own money to purchase gifts instead of accepting handouts. If they couldn’t afford gifts, the ministry would put them to work at the store so they could raise their own funds to purchase gifts. The dramatic transformation from dignity stealing to dignity giving made a huge impact in that community.  Wherever we serve, be it the inner city or abroad, we need to think about whether our actions empower, give dignity, and point others to their value in Christ. 

Similar to how medical professionals are bound by the Hippocratic Oath, Lupton believes a new oath should govern the non-profit industry.  He calls it the “Oath for Compassionate Service,” and here it is in its entirety:

  • Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves
  • Limit one-way giving to emergency situations
  • Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements
  • Subordinate self-interest to the needs of those being served
  • Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service
  • Above all, do no harm 


New Bracelets!

In March, we commissioned some of the teenagers at EBAC orphanage to produce a bulk order of bracelets to sell on the website.  We received two color schemes with the word “Espwa” prominently displayed on each bracelet.

Thank you so much to Waiky, Ricardo and Dophka for your excellent craftsmanship and entrepreneurship!

You can now purchase these bracelets for $7 in our Storefront here.

Here are Waiky & Dophka (Dophka was camera shy!).



Jovenel’s Crops

Many people ask us what kind of crops Jovenel and his Agrolide organization grow on the farm.  There is definitely a diverse selection.  Here’s what’s currently growing:

St. Anthony’s Renovation

St. Anthony’s is one of the primary medical clinics at which Espwa serves in Cap Haitien, Haiti.  Our longtime friend and medical director, Dr. Eugene Maklin, sees patients there each week.  After this past March’s medical trip, it became clear that St. Anthony’s was overwhelmingly hot, overcrowded, and too small for effective patient exams.  Between April and June, one of our network partners, Food for the Poor, was able to raise the capital needed to address some of its shortcomings.

By employing Haitian construction crews, the building underwent a dramatic transformation.  Site improvements included the following:

  • Demolishing one exterior wall and extending two rooms and the gallery
  • Reinforcing structural beams and columns
  • Reconstructing concrete slab floors
  • Repairing bathrooms
  • Replacing the electrical wiring
  • Replacing the roof with new plywood underlayment, metal roofing, and hurricane strapping
  • Repainting and refinishing

We can’t wait to return and serve at St. Anthony’s on our next medical trip and are so excited that community residents have such a nicer clinic!

June 2016 Trip Report

We wanted to express a big thank you to everyone who supported us on the trip a few weeks ago – from financially, to prayers, to supporting our family members while we were gone.  It is always encouraging to see how these trips come together and the impact they make.

The blended team of Duquesne Faculty members and Pleasant Hills Church experienced many things in Cap Haitien.  We had an amazing time seeing the progress on the New Hope Hospital and visiting with Dr. Eugene.  In his typical easy-going but passionate fashion, he gave us a tour of the hospital and grounds, as well as a visit to the newly renovated St. Anthony’s clinic.

The team also visited the site of Jovenel’s first farm, as well as EBAC orphanage.  At EBAC, we met with longtime missionaries Alice Wise and Kathy Gouker, whose stories never fail to captivate, as well as our pastor to the Peace & Joy Families, Benjamin Fleurant.  Our time with Pastor Benjamin, strengthening the relationship and getting feedback from his time with the children and their families was much needed.

One brief success story from this trip is worth sharing.  Our project liaison and owner of Haitian Creole Tour, Frantz Louis-Charles, was very excited to show us the tract of land he had recently purchased!  After very humble beginnings at EBAC orphanage, Frantz has flourished these past few years in the tourism business that was originally funded through an Espwa small business project.  To see Frantz as a landowner, working hard and succeeding in his profession, it brings a great sense of pride in the work that we do.  We do it for the Frantz’s of Haiti.  People we love and who just need some hope.  A little empowerment and faith goes a long way.

The final excitement for the trip was our annual beach trip with the Peace & Joy families!  On the 27th of June, we embarked on a bus-turned-tap-tap adventure that started with picking up the families.  Long story short, the bus ended up getting a flat tire that was beyond repair, so a tap-tap army came to the rescue.  Nothing was keeping us from the beach!

Until next time, thanks again for your support.  It’s trips like these that re-focus our efforts and give us the motivation to keep running the race laid out for us in Haiti.

Heading Out Soon

On June 23rd, we’ll be sending a team down to Cap Haitien, Haiti.  Led by Espwa VP, Chris Pfeiffer, the team will have some familiar faces from one of our partners, Pleasant Hills Church, as well as some staff from the Duquesne School of Pharmacy.

The team intends to meet with Dr. Eugene Maklin to view progress on the New Hope hospital.  The hospital has undergone a drastic transformation since its inception last year.  By employing Haitian construction workers, the project has also injected much needed capital into the economy while empowering the workers with an opportunity to use their talents and provide for their families.  Dr. Maklin is especially looking forward to meeting with the representatives from the School of Pharmacy to investigate possible partnerships in the future.

On Monday, June 27th, the annual Peace & Joy beach trip will kick off. This event has become a staple in our ongoing relationship with the 18 families, as we show them love and have an all-around fun day at one of Haiti’s scenic beaches.

The team will also check in with Jovenel (Agrolide farm) and Frantz (Haitian Creole Tour), and see some recent updates to St. Anthony’s clinic.

Let’s be praying for the team’s  safe travels on the way to and in country, and that God will use this trip to continue building up and empowering our friends in Haiti.

Interview with Pastor Benjamin

If you received our quarterly newsletter, you’ve likely seen the video of Pastor Benjamin and the welding generator that has significantly impacted his life.  As can be expected, much of the interview had to be edited out in order to fit into the short segment within the video.  We thought it worthwhile to post the full text of the interview here so that you can get more acquainted with him, learn a bit about his church, and start to see his character. We’re glad to have Pastor Benjamin as an Espwa partner!

Tell us your name and where you serve as pastor.

I’m Benjamin Fleurant. I work at the Baptist Church Army of Christ (EBAC) of Morne Rouge.

Tell us about some of the financial difficulties you face as a church and as a pastor.

There are obviously material difficulties that we face.  But I think the root of the problem comes from not modeling the type of Christ-like living as found in the Bible.  It is difficult to find this type of Christian.

How has the welding generator been able to make a difference in your life?

We want to thank God first, and then the Espwa Foundation, who thought of supporting us in this way. The welding generator sure makes a difference.  Even though I don’t use it myself or rent it every day, at least I have the hope of renting it to find support for my family.

Tell us about the ministry with the Peace & Joy families.

Normally, in my ministry with the Peace & Joy children, I go there and teach them songs, verses, and do Bible stories. Sometimes we also talk with their parents to keep them growing and to bring them spiritual hope.

It’s a pleasure for me to work with those kids. First of all, there is a great need for the ministry, because in the area where they live, it is outside the city and there are not a lot of Christians/believers.  The work we’re doing is progressing, even though on a spiritual level, I wouldn’t say we’ve achieved the progress I was expecting.  I had been ministering once a month, but I found that time interval was too long.  Now, I have decided to go once a week.  We’re also dividing the children into different age groups (5 to 11, and 12 and older).  Another thing we hope might overcome this distance between us is to provide opportunities for the children to come to EBAC Church once a month. The objective is to bring hope to the children’s lives and for their growth.  And that’s where we are right now. I am hoping God will give us the strength we need to keep growing the ministry in Jesus’ name.

What are you passionate about?

My passion is to evangelize and teach people how to understand God better, which is based on Hosea 4:6, which says, “My people are perishing because of lack of understanding of the words of God.”

How can we pray for you, for the Peace & Joy families, and Cap Haitien?

My personal request is that God would give me strength, zealousness, and more faith to continue day by day to do His work.  For the children, my prayer request is that they would have a discerning mind so they can understand the words of God, and for them to be obedient to what the Bible asks.  And my vision for Cap Haitien is for a city-wide evangelization – for the areas where people don’t hear about the gospel – and that I can help people better understand the God’s word.

What does hope mean to you?

For me, hope is one of the greatest words.  If people are living without hope, then it’s like this person doesn’t exist. Because wherever there is hope, there is life. The best hope is Jesus. When a Christian goes somewhere, he should bring hope.  That’s why, to me, hope is life.

What do you want to say to anyone who supported you with the generator?

First, I want to thank God. Thank you to everyone who heard about this opportunity and participated to support me.  I don’t have the words to express my gratitude, but God knows my heart. I pray that God helps you spiritually and materially, so that you can continue to grow in faith and support more people to do the work of God.


Check out the video recap below if you haven’t yet seen it:

Poverty, Inc. Follow-Up

Thanks to everyone who came out to support last weekend’s Poverty, Inc. event in Pittsburgh, PA, and special thanks to Northgate Church for hosting.  We were honored to have more than 115 attendees.

The night started with a quick introduction by Espwa VP, Chris Pfeiffer, and then got right into the movie.  What a life-changing perspective it offers!  Poverty, Inc. really illuminates some of the reasons why Espwa operates how it does.  Namely, that those in poverty are capable, worthy individuals who want to work and provide for their families, just like all of us.  They want to raise their families to be the best they can be and face struggles with faith along the way, just like all of us.  Many times, the “poverty” industry has intervened in ways that have ignored these facts and caused detriment to those it was trying to help.

At Espwa, we’ve tried to embrace a better approach, helping our Haitian friends realize their potential, empowering them to impact others.  We’ve always wanted to be a “hand up,” not a “handout.”  This documentary should cause each and every one of us to pause and consider how we think about the materially poor.

Following the movie, Mark Weber, one of the film’s co-producers, offered a lengthy Q&A session that drove home the movie’s content.  While still a young man, Mark has been to many places and seen what works and doesn’t work when it comes to poverty alleviation.  His added perspective was great to hear.  To hear more from Mark, check out a video of him speaking at this year’s Jubilee conference:

The evening ended with a sneak preview of the next phase of Espwa’s project, the Agrolide Farming Expansion.  We continue to support Jovenel in his vision of expanding to a new, 25 acre farm that will impact the surrounding community.  Look forward to the official release of the new video soon!

Thanks again to all who were involved in making this event happen.

Poverty, Inc. Screening

POVERTY INC PosterWe’re excited to announce that on May 13th, 2016, Espwa is hosting a screening of the award-winning documentary Poverty, Inc.  As part of the event, filmmaker and co-producer Mark Weber will host a Q&A session, which you won’t want to miss!

Poverty, Inc. drives home the reasoning behind some of Espwa’s core principles and approach.  We’d love to see you at the event, because we know it might just change your perspective on how most poverty alleviation methods are broken.  Find out more below.


Tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased at the door or pre-purchased at the link below.

Purchase Tickets Now

Event Details

Date: May 13th, 2016

Time: 7:00 PM

Location: Northgate Church, 238 West View Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15229

View Facebook Event

About the Film

POVERTY, INC. has earned 40 international film festival honors including a “Best of Fests” selection at IDFA Amsterdam – the biggest documentary festival in the world. Here’s the trailer:


Film Synopsis

“I see multiple colonial governors,” says Ghanaian software entrepreneur Herman Chinery-Hesse of the international development establishment in Africa. “We are held captive by the donor community.”

The West has positioned itself as the protagonist of development, giving rise to a vast multi-billion dollar poverty industry — the business of doing good has never been better.

Yet the results have been mixed, in some cases even catastrophic, and leaders in the developing world are growing increasingly vocal in calling for change. Drawing from over 200 interviews filmed in 20 countries, Poverty, Inc. unearths an uncomfortable side of charity we can no longer ignore.

From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, the film challenges each of us to ask the tough question: Could I be part of the problem?

A Great March Trip!

We’re fresh off our latest trip to Cap Haitien, Haiti, and like with most trips, we’ve returned with even more motivation for the work we do for the Haitian people. Through medical care, family support, farming, and small business, we are grateful for the opportunities we have to build relationships and impact lives. Check out the short recap video below, and keep reading for more details about the trip!



The team set off to Haiti on March 9th, carrying more than 19 suitcases of medications, vitamins, and medical supplies valued at over $22,000. Five members of the Espwa leadership team (Jen, Chris, Joe, Brady & Kristin) were excited to be back in-country, but we were also  privileged to assemble an amazing team of medical professionals, including two Nurse Practitioners, four RNs, and an Occupational Therapist. Another member arrived midway through the trip, bringing our team total to 11 individuals. Our primary goal for the trip was to serve Haitians through medical care, with a secondary goal of meeting with the liaisons for our other Espwa projects to check progress.

The medical team worked side-by-side with two Haitian physicians, Dr. Eugene Maklin (Espwa’s in-country Medical Director) and Wislyn Avenard, and began by serving for two days at the Blue Hills community. While there is no clinic in the small community, our team was able to set up shop in a school building run by Thomas Dieuseul and his wife. Patients began arriving first thing in the morning in order to reserve a spot in line to be seen by the team, and the waiting area was soon filled to capacity. Over two days, the team saw more than 300 patients, treating them for conditions ranging from dehydration to skin abscesses.

The team took a break from medical duty over the weekend, which gave an opportunity to experience some of Espwa’s other projects and to enjoy Haiti’s beauty. The team was very impressed by the amazing progress of Dr. Maklin’s New Hope Hospital (read about the story here). The building now has full three floors and is in the process of getting its roof, with a hopeful opening date in the July 2016 timeframe. On Saturday, the team met our Peace & Joy Families, who had assembled for their monthly meeting with our project liaison, Paul Guerrier. Pastor Benjamin Fleurant, who ministers to the families, was also at the meeting and led the children in a song while the team watched. Sunday was a wonderful day of rest, in which the team spent the morning at Friendship Island – essentially a private island off the coast of Haiti (thanks Haitian Creole Tour!) – and several members even ventured to city central for church services in one of Cap Haitien’s oldest cathedrals.

The team was back at it on Monday morning, this time serving at St. Anthony’s clinic, which Espwa has been part of since its inception. Dr. Maklin sees patients there every Monday, and it’s been great to see the relationships unfold with members of the community over the past several years. The team served at the clinic for 2 ½ days and saw more than 400 patients.  The Espwa team was grateful for all the donated vitamins (which can’t be purchased in Haiti), because it guaranteed each child received an adequate supply.  Espwa President, Jen Schmidt, summarized the week’s medical mission by saying, “We all worked so well together and everything fell perfectly into place, allowing us to treat over 700 patients!  God is good!”

While most of the team provided medical care, our non-medical members checked progress on several other Espwa projects.  The team met with Pastor Benjamin Fleurant, who regularly meets with our Peace & Joy families for Christian discipleship and relationship building.  In December, thanks to your support, we were able to purchase a welding generator for him that has dramatically helped his ability to generate income and focus more on his church and his ministry to the Peace & Joy families.  We met with Jovenel Joseph Kenold, who operates one of our main projects – a farming initiative – and who now has his sights set on a larger farm with his Agrolide organization.  We explored some of the steps that need to be taken to make the next farm a reality.  We also met with Paul Guerrier and Frantz Louis-Charles, who interface with our Peace & Joy families on a monthly basis, to discuss ways forward with small business opportunities in the future.

After 24 trips to Haiti since 2007, Chris Pfeiffer, Espwa VP, continues to learn valuable lessons with each trip.  Chris says, “I see more and more value in time spent with our Haitian friends.  Loving, caring relationships, built on consistency and trust, really matter. These take time, but are worth the effort.  I’m more convinced than ever that these relationships are more important than “doing stuff” in Haiti or “bringing stuff” to Haiti.”  This trip was just one more opportunity to show love and build relationships in Haiti.  And while progress can sometimes be slow or discouraging, we’re in it for the long-haul.

We consider this trip a major success – through outstanding medical care, network building, and inching each of our projects forward.  But we couldn’t have done it without your support.  Many thanks to everyone who donated vitamins, funds, prayers, emotional support, or all of the above!  Although each of us are back home, our thoughts and efforts to make a lasting impact on Haiti remain.  Until next time…

Upcoming March 2016 Trip

In just under two weeks, Espwa will send a team of medical professionals to the Cap Haitien, Haiti area for a 10 day medical mission.  We’re excited to have multiple providers, nurses, and an occupational/physical therapist on this trip as we meet up with our in-country medical director, Dr. Eugene Maklin. These types of missions are our primary “relief” work, whereas many of our other projects focus on rehabilitation and development.

The team will see hundreds of patients per day and throughout the trip will serve at both the Blue Hills and St. Anthony clinics.  Dr. Maklin has also arranged for information-sharing tours of the Hospital Judstidian (main public hospital in Cap Haitien), as well as his own budding hospital in the Plaine-du-Norde region, still under construction.

While the medical team sees patients, a smaller non-medical team will visit other Espwa project sites, such as Jovenel’s Farm and Haitian Creole Tour, and meet with local network partners.  Over the weekend, both teams will hopefully be able to meet with our Peace & Joy Families, as we continue to encourage and show them love.  We also intend to use the services of Haitian Creole Tour for transportation and likely a trip to the beach on one of the days.

We’d appreciate your prayers as we lead up to and during the trip.  If you’d like to make a donation towards trip expenses, one of our biggest needs is in the purchase of medications to take into country.  The medications are prescribed to patients as needed and we are taking a lot this time due to the number of projected patients we’ll see.  You can only imagine some of the heartbreaking conditions our Haitian friends cope with – due to the combination of tropical diseases, malnourishment, poor sanitation, and unclean drinking water in the region.  Many people are faced with the choice between eating or seeing the doctor, and when put in that position, medical care takes the back seat.  Every little bit helps!

Make a Donation for Medications

Look for an update and pictures following the trip, and thanks for your interest!

Creative Fundraisers Make an Impact

What makes a good fundraiser? We’ve all seen our share of lame fundraising campaigns growing up (magazine subscription sales, candy bar peddling…need we say more), so when a creative fundraising idea comes along, it really stands out.  Here at Espwa, we’ve been blessed over the past few years to see some of these ideas come to fruition.  We’re humbled by the number of supporters who continue to surprise us with innovative ways to share our story and raise funds for our projects at the same time.  Below are just a few examples of things we’ve seen that might spark your own creativity:

Cookie Fundraiser

A young girl at Northgate Church, Pittsburgh, PA, has been a supporter of our Peace & Joy Family Project since the beginning. Now 13 years old, she created a “Peace & Joy Cookie Camp,” where a team of volunteers taught 35 kids to bake cookies and cakes. The baked items were then sold, and over $2000 was raised! Read more about this event here.

Sea Glass Jewelry

After traveling to Haiti in 2015, the co-owner of DKC Creations, a Pennsylvania-based jewelry business, created a line of sea glass jewelry dedicated to supporting Haiti.  The all-green line of products called “Glass of Hope” is sold to others at wholesale prices or placed at business locations, and any proceeds of the resulting sales are donated to Espwa.

Slow Machete

After experiencing the beauty and richness of Haitian choirs during several trips, Espwa Executive Director, Joe Shaffer, was inspired to support them through a new musical collaboration known as Slow Machete. The recordings of Haitian choirs are woven with downtempo and Cuban rhythms, for a truly unique sound. Check out Slow Machete’s albums here.

The Hunger Project

The youth group at Northgate Church, Pittsburgh, PA, has held numerous Hunger Project campaigns to help the Peace & Joy Family Project. Besides fasting for 30 hours to show solidarity with malnourished children in Haiti, the youth group members completed service projects for other members of the church. These projects, such as painting, repairs, or yard work, were all done for donations. These campaigns have raised upwards of $11,000 in a single weekend!


Espwa has typically hosted an annual concert that brings together local artists and other individuals with a passion for Haiti. The Espwa story and projects are interwoven throughout the concert to give attendees a bigger picture of our work. Other local artists have held their own benefit concerts and events to support Espwa, such as the one we discussed here.


An ultramarathoner in Pittsburgh pledged to run for 30 hours straight in order to raise awareness of and generate support for Espwa. All told, he ran nearly 120 miles and all proceeds went to Espwa projects.


We’ve seen countless “drives” for various items that were then taken to Haiti on one of our trips, or shipped there to our local liaisons. These are a great way to get a workplace, church group, or group of friends energized about Haiti. Past drives have collected vitamins, clothes, school supplies, shoes/crocs, birthing kits, soap, toothpaste, and Christmas bags.

Selling Haitian Goods

Each trip, we tend to come back with various items of Haitian culture, such as art, wooden boxes, or carvings. Haiti is also known for its vanilla. There have been events and online sales centered around re-selling these items, with proceeds coming back to Espwa.

Local Service Organizations & Mission Committees

Motivated supporters have taken the Espwa story to their local Rotary Clubs, their church’s mission committees or boards, or other community organizations. We’ve been blessed with many donations of this type, but it all starts when someone interacts with his or her community and paints the vision of how donations will make an impact in Haiti.

Selling Parties

We’ve seen all kinds of things sold at parties with all proceeds donated to Espwa. From CAbi clothing to Silpada Jewelry, and everything in between, these events are a good way to interact with friends, tell the Espwa story, and sell items that people are already interested in.

Personal Networks/Fundraising Letters

After trips to Haiti, many motivated students and adults have started fundraising campaigns to generate support for certain projects that touched them during the trip. A college student raised several thousand dollars for the Peace & Joy Family Project, and another supporter raised money to fund the welding generator for Pastor Benjamin, purchased in December 2015, all through the power of their personal networks.


Upcoming this May, Espwa members and supporters are participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon to raise funds. Espwa is one of the official charities that race participants can choose to support.  Check here for more information.


With all these ideas, how will YOU make an impact on the lives of those we serve in Haiti?  We encourage you to get out and make a difference every day, however you’ve been gifted to do so!


Duquesne Speaking Event

On Monday, February 8th, the Espwa team presented our work and story to students and faculty at the Mylan School of Pharmacy, Duquesne University.

Espwa VP Chris Pfeiffer began with an overview of our work and current projects, followed by Gary Molinaro, Espwa Financial Director, who spoke about financial concerns when operating a non-profit in Haiti.  Espwa President Jen Schmidt video-conferenced into the event and provided a unique perspective on typical diseases and illnesses that medical professionals experience when practicing in Haiti.

We hope this event marks the beginning of a great partnership between Espwa and the Mylan School of Pharmacy.  The prospect of involving future classes of pharmacy students in our work is exciting, and motivates us to keep persevering in this great cause.

If you’re interested in making a donation that will pay for medications on our upcoming trip in March 2016, please click below.

Help Us Bring Meds in March!

December Trip Update

What an amazing 2015 we had!  We ended the year with a great trip to Haiti in December.  We sent a small team to accomplish one main objective – capture some new media (video & photos) for 2016.  We took talented, south Florida cinematographer, Regan Kramer (see her website here).  In the past year, Regan produced two wonderful pieces about our great friend and Medical Director, Dr. Eugene Maklin, and we hoped to capture another Espwa story on this trip.

As you may know, one of our current projects involves helping Jovenel Kenold realize his dream of a bigger, more impactful farm that will employ locals, feed the hungry, and ultimately share the love of Christ in Haiti.  Several things have been put in motion with the new farm, but due to the size, there is a great need for start-up capital.  We filmed Jovenel’s story, and watched as his passion and vision for the project shined through.  We plan to use the footage to produce a short promotional film that will bolster Espwa’s support of the farm and raise additional funds. Stay tuned in 2016 for the new video sharing Jovenel’s story.

The Espwa team also got the chance to check up on some of our other current projects in Cap Haitien. We visited with the families of the Peace & Joy Family Project (they are doing great!), met with our good friend Frantz (of Haitian Creole Tour), saw the progress of Dr. Maklin’s hospital construction, and even spent some time at the plage (beach). Thanks for following along as Espwa continues to serve our brothers and sisters in Haiti. We hope that 2016 will be our best year yet.

Doc’s Hospital Progress

We’re proud to announce that last month, through your support, we were able to fund the vital repairs to Dr. Eugene Maklin’s vehicle. Dr. Eugene is a man like no other in Haiti, and we’re glad to have him as part of the Espwa team.

We’re hoping that you’re aware of the good doctor’s hospital project, as it’s been featured on our Current Projects page for a few months now.  For a good summary of where it stands at the moment, check out the video below.

Suffice it to say that this hospital will make a huge impact in northern Haiti.  We’re excited to see Dr. Eugene’s passion come alive, and we look forward to the day when we can send medical missions teams to help out firsthand.  But as the video illustrates, the funding for construction has hit a plateau.

This week, Dr. Eugene finishes up a two week trip to the U.S., and a large part of the trip has been trying to generate additional support.  If you have a desire to aid in this life-changing project, you can earmark your donation to Espwa as “Doc’s Hospital,” or also donate on the Haiti Mission Branche Nord website.

Thanks for everything you do Dr. Eugene!

Buy a Shirt, Give New Hope

Announcing our Fall 2015 merchandise line of Espwa T-shirts, tank tops, and hoodies! We’re rolling out a limited-time storefront to accept your orders until November 6th, 2015.  We’ll then place a bulk order and your product(s) will arrive between November 23rd – 25th, 2015.

100% of storefront proceeds flow directly into Espwa projects.  By purchasing a product, you’re literally extending a hand of hope to someone in need.

The design features the wording, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul.”  This short phrase embodies the Espwa approach – providing hope and empowering Haitians through a solid foundation in Christ.  Plus, it leaves just enough ambiguity that it should spark some good questions and conversations about Espwa and our work in Haiti.

White & Gold Design

Visit our Storefront and place your order today before time runs out!

If you’d like to order a bulk quantity in order to perform your own fundraiser, please contact us and we can discuss pricing options.  Thanks for looking and hopefully making a purchase!