Sunday, February 18, 2018

Volunteer student from Loyola University Maryland 's appeal

My name is Julia Kasmouski and I am a member of the club Rendezvous Haiti here at Loyola.
Last March, I had the privilege to travel to Haiti with a group of Loyola students to witness first hand the profound impact Rendezvous Haiti and its leader Madame Catherine Savell have had on the lives of those who live at the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes outside of Port-au-Prince Haiti.
This March I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to return to Haiti and continue the great work of this organization. Not only will I get to spend another week teaching, playing, and working with some of the most kind-hearted and loving children I have ever met, but I will get to take part in building upon the tremendous success Rendezvous Haiti has already helped to create. Since the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, Rendezvous Haiti and the numerous volunteers that have traveled to the Foyer are helping dozens of children find paths of success through education and entrepreneurship.
This year with the help of generous donors two more teenagers at the Foyer have had the opportunity to attend the University of Haiti to further their education and become teachers. In addition, this coming March myself and another group of volunteers will be working to renovate a transition home for teenagers that age out of the orphanage but have nowhere else to go.
Being a part of this organization has completely changed my view of the world and I am so grateful for that. However, one person or even a small group can only do so much to enact positive change. Rendezvous Haiti and the 150 children at the Foyer need your help and support too. Whether that be through donations of toys, supplies, or funds, you too can help make a difference in the lives of children just trying to succeed. Because despite the hardship and poverty that has left many of these children without family to love them and take care of them, they have found happiness, love, and support at the Foyer and without the help of generous donors and volunteers none of that would be possible. Thank you.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Quick but informative visit!

" This is the only orphanage where I see children laughing" says Denise , new social worker at the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes five days a week! "they are happy here".

A very short trip but full of good things to report: beginning with the comment above and then the reaction of Andy Robinson, President of RG Management Consulting who accompanied me and was coming to the Foyer for the third time, but hadn’t been here in two years: “there is real progress,” also from Philippe Bruno, a recently retired French lawyer living in Washington,  “it’s impressive how it works.”
The new building, constructed thanks to Oulton College of Canada, houses the 7th grade class, the library, and the new infirmary. The banana trees are bearing a large harvest of nearly ripe bananas and the manioc plants have grown. A new septic tank, the trenches marking the future bakery, small fruit trees, and a new order of 200 chicks; all of these are steps towards a stronger infrastructure.
Samuel and Mirlaine began their university courses to become teachers! This is the second group of children to seek further education after finishing high school. Another good step!
And there is Maud’s new initiative: the development of a multipurpose center on a field that she can use thanks to her position on the management committee of C. O. H. A. N.  A car wash just started up, managed by Sébastien with the support of some of the older boys. Farah began a stand where she sells some delicious Haitian “pâtés”. In the afternoon she makes pizzas thanks to the small propane oven which we brought last March (an idea suggested by a Loyola University student who, having done some in-depth research, found that the sale of pizzas in this manner should be a lucrative micro-business). The project is launched and we are at the observation stage. 
This location will house in addition to the car wash: the bar-restaurant, the pâté-pizza stand, a barber/hair salon, and a spare parts shop. These last two projects are under study.
More good news: the presence of Sister Anna-Maria, an Ursuline nun who decided to devote her extensive experience and her talents as a nurse practitioner to the children. She has a project of building a clinic with a waiting room, a dental radiology room (she already has the equipment for this), a treatment room, and pharmacy, with housing upstairs for resident nurses or nurses in training. Her preceding two clinics with a team of three salaried employees became self-sufficient  in a year! It’s a large and magnificent project whose funding rises to around $340,000. A little scary but Sister Anna seems so determined and demonstrates such confidence in the good completion of a project that has been maturing for a year, that she convinced our small team to help her promote her proposition to various potential donors. 
Much more modest but still positive, four of the teenagers have given the summaries, for the second time, of 27 books that, all together, they read since the month of July (Iphigénie, La dame aux camellias, among others). They receive a reward for each book they read and summarize. And then Venise, 14-years-old, took the initiative to sew pretty pencil cases (cut from large table cloths) all by herself. It’s an original way to recycle fabric.
If the pictures are not here, it is because I lost the technology battle between my phone, my pc and a mysterious  cloud!  

Friday, September 22, 2017

March 2017, A different spring break for these university students

11 Loyola University Students chose to spend their Spring break a different way: not on a Florida beach but with lots of children in their home, the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes in Haiti.

One special day: Every child at the beach and everyone gets a mango! New bathing suits: thank you Alicia Barger, Teri Louden, Dr Patricia Ayres and all the friends that made that day possible.

 Morning English language classes with material prepared by Dr Heidi Brown:

Craft activities: painting, kites and new project: glasses, pencil and toiletries fabric cases sewn by the older girls. Thank you Angela Christman for the looming kits and Melanie Giraud for kite material.

Garden project moving along really nicely: new plot, new fruit trees, growing banana trees, tiny mangos and coconuts, spinach, corn, manioc and yes, water! Thank you: Bob Freson, Angela Christman, Association Terre des Montagnes, Ed Barker, Gilles Letourneau.  

Stimulating education: books donated by Philippe Bruno added classics to the existing collection and  a senior project at Prof. Lorenzi’s Social Entrepreneurship class at Loyola University Maryland is designing a distance learning classroom so high schoolers will be able to take courses on line with a French institution. Thank you Louise Finn and IT for the donation of three laptops. Once again, awards were given for best students in their grades.

Gifts of craft supplies, clothing, soaps, toothpaste, backpacks and basic first aid filled 15 duffle bags. Thank you Rendez-vous: Haiti club at Loyola (Krystele Antoine, Courtney Radcliffe, Isabella Luque), Robin and Sal Lenzo, St Pius community, Dr Patricia Ayres and my cousin in France, Françoise Chazal.
Future projects: - Maximize in -house food production with the gardens but also the hen house.
-          Develop bio-digester capacity
-          Build a Transistion house for the older children supported by an infirmary/pharmacy near the Foyer 
-          Set up online high school classes to improve the quality of education for teen agers
-          Repair damaged home for widow, mother of three
( Thank you Dr Roche and Church of the Transformation)

Other concern: Abelardo. Visiting orthopedists explained that his growing body will become too heavy for his legs.  What to do? Right now he is able to play soccer and has a pretty good kick.
Heartfelt thank you to generous friends and sponsors: International Programs, CCSJ, Mission Integration at Loyola University Maryland


July 2017 Volunteer Tracy Sanna is back!

Tracy is a Loyola U. Pastoral Counseling graduate that first volunteered in 2013 and is sponsoring Ti-Widner. She is also a full time social science teacher.
Pizza Project Phase 1
Rendezvous Haiti purchased an outdoor pizza oven to be used to make and sell pizza in the restaurant and to potential offer start-up options for job seekers. During this trip, the young adult and adolescent women practiced making pizzas and cook them in the new oven. In order to encourage creativity we had a pizza cook off to see whose pizza was the tastiest. The girls used a variety of toppings that they thought would peak the interest of their Haitian customers.  Toppings included tomato sauce, cheese, green peppers, onions, and hotdogs. This pilot project is the result of research done by LUM’s class of 2017, Rob Scherba, who interned for RVH this past spring. A start-up investment of around $ 1,000 was assessed. The next step is to find a motivated micro-entrepreneur who can take this on.   
Sewing Project
The young adult women at the Foyer showed their sewing skills by creating pencil cases and eye glass cases. These women worked together and used their creativity and expertise to create 20 items that will be sold this fall to gain money for the Foyer. The most impressive aspect of watching these women was their team work. Side by side, they completed what they could not do alone. This project’s goal is to stimulate resourcefulness, creativity, skill acquisition and autonomy.

Painting Project
The young men at the Foyer again put their artistic ability on display by creating beautiful landscapes of the Caribbean. These also will be sold in order to raise money for the Foyer. Each artist was paid for his work to incentivize creativity and entrepreneurial skills. They are encouraged by their 3rd place finish in Food for the Poor annual worldwide competition.

Kids Projects
During this trip the young children at the Foyer participated in beading, bracelet making, bridge design and building, drawing, and geography activities. During this week the children did not have camp and appreciated the stimulation and opportunity to engage their bodies and minds. 

Mamba Making
Tati Jo and the other girls and women at the Foyer created their delicious Mamba (peanut butter). This budding business is a hit with volunteers. Catherine, never leaves Haiti without a Mamba supply J and Tracy bought several jars to bring home.  All the proceeds go to the Foyer. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Journey continues

When Thomas stepped out of the car and into the bustling main hall, little arms grabbed his legs reaching out for the loving that volunteers invariably shower on the children. Fortunately, they come on a regular basis.  For Thomas Robinson, it had been three years since his first visit and he is still wearing the bracelets made by Mano or Kervens. From that first moment on, he spent his days, holding one baby or another, kicking soccer balls, teaching English , supervising craft activities and sharing game filled moments with all those that reached out to him. On his previous visit, there were only forty some beds, no running water, no bathrooms for the children and only thirty dishes which meant that the children had to eat in shifts.

For our One Special Day: the major meal of the day had in addition to the very generous portion of rice and beans, meat, vegetables and mangoes for dessert. We also bought three pools for the littler ones.  

 This time again, we rewarded best students, best caretakers of little ones, members of the band for their efforts, most helpful, best paintings and most creative young Fenel for his initiative of making a drum.


Fostering micro-entreprises.
_ RVH funded a start up in the slum of Cite Soleil. The mother of three of the children at the Foyer has been living in a tiny shack unable to find a job. She came the day before I left to show me the manicure/pedicure kit we facilitated her getting. There was joy and hope in her voice when she showed me all her supplies. She will offer her services in a section of PaP where women can afford them. It is not unusual for women to get home manicures. Marielande will report to Maud every other weeks to get the mentoring she needs to hopefully start a better life.

_ We are continuing in our support and mentoring of Fenel, whose little shop we have help start, is doing a balancing act since responsible for the care of his eleven year old sister and going to vocational training for metallic structural work run by Terre des Hommes Switzerland. He is excelling in the practical aspect of the training but struggling with the theories. In the evening he runs his stall and sells basic necessities. He will be entering twelve grade in the fall, is anxious to finish and start working full time. RVH is helping him with a grant for half his rent for a year. On weekends he goes to the Foyer and helps repair what is broken. RVH would like to help him purchase soldering equipment so he can find work once he graduates in November.

Manje Lakaye”, the restaurant that opened in March is now managed by a young woman whose children attend the Foyer’s school and who caught Maud’s attention, because she was unemployed and desperately trying to find a job to support her family. She is using the boom box that RVH had brought down in March to facilitate evenings of music and dancing.  The business is slow, with irregular customers but it has only been opened four months and might need time to establish itself. The neighborhood seems to have developed a few other businesses since the last time I was there, which is encouraging. 
ABC mini-market with Bully as manager opened its doors in March 2016. We are very proud to follow the progress of the hard working young man who is regularly sending reports and is being mentored by Andy Robinson who provided the seed money for this whole sale start-up. We are seeking the additional investment of $ 1,200 to facilitate Bully fixing a truck for deliveries and to invest in a larger inventory.  We see the potential for growth and significant income for Bully and his future family.

Future plans:
_ A Teacher Training workshop scheduled for the last two weeks in August is all set to go. Thanks to the generosity of RVH supporters, funding has been obtained to pay for the airfare and stay at the Foyer of Madame Claire Beauvais whose field of expertise in France is elementary school teacher training and who has extensive experience working with schools in Haiti. Eight teachers with their directors will attend this workshop and get paid while they do so. This should give a strong head start to the new school year. 

Next goal is to find funding for an after school tutor that could supervise a few hours of homework everyday as well as online English instruction.  A budget of $ 160 a month is sought for the duration of the school year. $ 1,600

The purchase of a Taptap minivan would facilitate transportation of children to the schools where special training or events take place.  RVH has $ 6,000 already but is looking for another $ 11,000 to purchase a vehicle in good condition.

_ Maud’s next goal is to rent a portion of land next to the Foyer to increase production of vegetables and spices not only for the Foyer’s consumption but also to be sold either at a local market or to other orphanages.  RVH will look for a volunteer who could come start this project and train some of the children in basic agriculture. We will look to fund a trainer’s salary, tools, field rental and seeds.

_ Looking for sponsors for the children that don't have one, volunteers to teach English, micro-entreprise, to mentor young adults and to make short video clips of success stories.

Without the help and generosity of the friends of Rendez-vous: Haiti, none of this would be possible. It is a journey : a journey of solidarity and hope. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rendez-vous in 2015

Thanks to friends and volunteers in 2015:

A pickup truck was donated and transported to the Foyer

We paid salaries, repairs, tuition, helped set up 2 micro-enterprises, and brought medication (in particular for Maud Semelfort, the cook who is fighting breast cancer)

We purchased a peanut butter making machine to help start the production of peanut butter.

We completed the volunteer housing and installed solar panels, thanks to a major donation from Association Terre des Montagnes. 

At least 50 volunteers have already enjoyed the facility and been a resource for the Foyer bringing skills, knowledge, donations, and love. 

We taught: computer literacy , English , patchwork & Entrepreneurship.

We brought: shoes, clothes, toiletries & crafts supplies.

We took all the children to the beach, organized puzzle, kite making, drawing, & painting competitions & rewarded school achievements

We  have helped support the studies of Bully Sanon in Engineering for the past 3 years & he graduated this December.

Instructing computer skills
while keeping baby Samuel happy 

English class
Bully Sanon receives his degree in Engineering

In 2016...

We will be looking for sponsors for 10 students, work on micro-enterprises, fundraise to purchase a "taptap" ( that will generate income and facilitate transportation) & develop a restaurant/take-out counter to foster jobs and revenue.