Monday, April 9, 2018

Spring break 2018: solidarity in action

Fourteen students, Dr. Andrea Thomas , from Loyola University Maryland chose to joined me to spend Spring break living and sharing our lives and skills with one hundred and fifty of the children in the Foyer Notre Dame de Lourdes outside of Port au Prince.

This past March 2018 students were able to:

Teach English vocabulary and songs to 6 different age groups of students

 Work with local carpenter and mason to build a new storage space

 Organize hundreds of donations of clothes, shoes, medicine, games, and other supplies brought by the volunteers

Teach how to make pizza! It might turn into a job and a profit generating enterprise.


Work with several children at the Foyer to make a beautiful mosaic table in the hopes of making and selling more tables in the future

Facilitate arts and craft activities such as coloring, card making, gimp, rosary bead making, coconut key chain making, painting, etc.

Work with students who have aged out of the Foyer to clean up and paint their transition home


Bring new concept of sunlamps put together by intern Miguel Swing solving the problem of the often absent electricity!

Take all 118 children and staff to the beach for a day of fun in the sun


Spend time playing, laughing, and making memories with the many many children that call the Foyer home


Maud Laurent, Josette Sanon and their team are raising the standard of care for children in institutions in Haiti. Here children get to be children: they grow up in a healthy nurturing environment and also benefit from the care of the many volunteers who come from Canada, France and the US.

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.