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

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:

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/109863354]

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?

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!


Ready to Run for a Reason?

We’re excited to announce our participation in the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon. The Espwa Foundation is an official contributing charity and will be part of the Run for a Reason Charity Program. The Run for a Reason Charity Program strengthens ties between the running community and non-profit organizations utilizing athletic events as new platforms for fundraising. Supporters of Espwa can now run in the marathon (full, half, or relay) and raise money to support Espwa’s work in Haiti.

If you are planning on running and don’t already have a charity, please consider running for Espwa.

Find out more, donate, or sign up to run with us on our Espwa Crowdrise page by clicking the button below.

Join Espwa at the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon

Third World Medical Conference

It’s not a secret that medical care in developed countries is drastically different from that in third world nations.  The types of illness presented, the attitudes and beliefs about medicine, the lack of health insurance, the heat, transportation difficulties, the poor facilities – the list goes on and on – make medical care an often challenging, yet rewarding task in Haiti.  With many years of experience under our belt, we’ve learned a few tricks of the trade and best practices.  But we know there’s always room for growth.  To put it in Biblical terms, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

To stay up on the latest developments, Espwa team members will be attending this year’s Third World Medical Conference, hosted by Medical Missionaries, at George Mason University, 13 – 15 November 2015.  The conference covers a wide range of topics, including treatment of infectious diseases, clinical tropical medicine case challenges, field management in resource-poor environments, mission support topics, and discussion group breakouts.  Our Espwa President, Jen Schmidt, CFNP, will be a panel member during a discussion titled Short-Term Missions vs. 24/7 Operations.

The conference begins on a Friday evening and ends by 4 pm Sunday.  The registration fee includes 6 meals, and, for medical professionals, CME credits. Prices are reduced for those not in the medical field.

We’d love for you to come out and meet Jen and some of our other Espwa team members at the conference.  In the past, it’s been a great networking event and the lessons learned have helped our medical teams provide better care.

More information about the conference and registration can be found at:

Medical Missionaries Link