A back to schoool note from co-founder, John Engle

 john

September 2, 2014

Friends,

It’s September: More than 1,100 children are filling our partner school and Children’s Academy classrooms. Our 47 Micah Scholars are beginning a new year of seminary courses.

Back in 1991, I first moved to Haiti as a two-year commitment with a small nonprofit. The experience transformed me. I discovered deep meaning and inspiration as I witnessed Haitians confront mind-boggling challenges with tenacity and determination. Their example along with the country’s compelling history – Haiti is the only European colony where the slaves revolted to successfully win their freedom – caused me to make a life-long commitment to this country.

Together, with our coworkers, Haiti Partners is humbly striving toward a bold vision of Haiti inspiring the world. This vision includes that during our lifetime, Haiti will advance from being known as “the poorest country in Western Hemisphere,” to being an example of change, innovation, and resourcefulness.

We’re blessed to be part of a dynamic team with big goals. Thank you for your interest in this work of helping Haitians change Haiti through education.

With deep gratitude,

John

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John’s Barrett Values Centre conference presentation: Experimenting in Search of Meaning

August 18, 2014

Last June co-director, John Engle, was invited to speak at the Barrett Values Centre’s Building a Values-Driven Society conference in Stockholm, Sweden. John’s presentation was titled, “Experimenting in Search for Meaning.” It’s an excellent talk covering everything from how John got involved in this work – don’t forget the hitchhiking trip to Alaska! – to a great summary of Haiti Partners’ work itself.

Haiti Partners is honored to be associated with the Barrett Values Centre and is grateful for its guidance and insight last spring while doing our strategic planning.

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Teacher Summit makes the news!

TS article

August 12, 2014

In previous posts we’ve written about our annual Teacher Summit – our largest teacher training which brings over 60 Haitian teachers and 10 expert educators from Holland, Michigan together each July. Well, recently this event caught the attention of the local news in Zeeland, Michigan, a community just adjacent to Holland.  It’s a great article which celebrates this great group and the hard work and dedication they bring to the Summit each year.

Click here to read the article.

As ever, our thanks goes out to Calvary Church for supporting this important training for the last 3 years! Thank you!

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HP friend Christa Brelsford Climbs for Haiti!

Christa

August 5, 2014

Haiti Partners is so grateful to be associated with Christa Brelsford. A victim of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Christa has turned her misfortune into an inspiring story of resilience and hope, most recently winning the first ever USA Paraclimbing National Championships. With this accomplishment under her belt, she’s now been asked to represent the USA in the world championships in Spain.

Christa has created a Crowdrise campaign in anticipation of this event:

Click here to support her campaign.

Thank you, Christa, for being such an inspiration to all of us, and also for, through it all, keeping Haiti close to your heart.


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13th Annual Open Space Meeting

July 30, 2014

On June 27th and 28th our Haiti-wide annual Open Space meeting took place. We’re pleased to say that even after 13 years interest in this democratic approach to conducting meetings has not abated. This year, despite relocating the event to Dabon, Leogane, which is farther from the capitol, there were over 50 participants, many of whom were new. The theme was, “How can social business influence the education profession toward a new vision of education?”

Haiti Partners is thrilled to see the Open Space method continuing to offer Haitians an alternative to traditional authoritarian approaches to exercising power. We look forward to supporting these efforts for the years to come.

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Teacher Summit 2014 a Great Success!

July 18, 2014
Erik Badger

On July 9-11 in Darbonne we held our annual Teacher Summit training. Nine excellent teachers and administrators from Holland, MI – all brought together by Calvary Church – came and spent two and a half days with 65 of our partner school teachers. They brought with them a host of high quality teaching materials – a full suitcase for each school! – and a whole bunch of great lessons they designed specifically for our teachers. By request, the lessons followed up on work that we’ve done over the last two years, reached across the content spectrum, and provided our teachers with a whole series of student-centered, engaging and interactive methods and activities for the classroom.

Haiti Partners is very grateful to this excellent group of educators who devote so much time and effort each year to help our partner school teachers improve at what they do.  We’re also very grateful to Calvary Church for supporting this effort. We had a great time and we look forward to staying in touch throughout the year and doing it again next year!

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Christianity Today article by co-director Kent Annan

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 2.44.54 PM Ryan Pierse/Getty

July 1, 2014

“…each day our pilgrimage brings dirtying stumbles, and, yes, each day death steps closer. But the beautiful, ridiculous grace is this: life abundant steps closer too.”

In the latest issue of Christianity Today Co-Director Kent Annan reflects on his Tough Mudder experience.

 

Read here:  http://tinyurl.com/os9jjye


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Sean Penn sees reason for optimism in Haiti’s recovery

June 23, 2014

In this Wall Street Joural opinion piece, Sean Penn – founder of J/P HRO, a relief organization that we have worked closely with since the earthquake – makes the case for, contrary to popular opinion, how Haiti has actually made great progress since the earthquake, and why Haiti’s supporters should continue to invest there.

Click here to read the article.

 

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Schools program update

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Celebrating with our partners the inauguration of the HAJICA poultry farm social business

June 19, 2014

The 2013-14 fiscal year has been a very productive one for the Haiti Partners Schools program.  We are pleased with the partnerships we have developed, the direction which the program has taken, and the impact we’re having in Baocia at the Children’s Academy, at the partner schools, and with the social businesses.

Thank you for learning about all the great work that your support is making possible!

 Click here to read our latest update.


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Haiti Partners in the news!

June 10, 2014

It was a pleasure hosting in Haiti photographer Benjamin Hager with 32963 News. We’re grateful for his and writer Mary Schenkel’s fine work on the above video and this article:

http://www.veronews.com/32963_features/people/haiti-partners-and-haiti-clinic-collaborate/article_73edd282-ebff-11e3-ac86-001a4bcf6878.html

 

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HAJICA Social Business Poultry Farm Officially Open!

HAJICA ribbon cutting

June 6, 2014

Our 2nd poultry social business is officially open! It will soon be generating funds to help support operating budgets for our four partner schools in Dabon. Special thanks to Yunus Social Business – Global InitiativesHeifer International, and all of our generous supporters. We’re also grateful that Dr. Michel Chancy, Minister of Animal Production was able to join us. You have all helped make this possible!

Click here to learn more about Haiti Partners’ social business initiatives.

  Posted in Annonciation Community School, Cabois Community School, Haiti Partners, Henri Christophe Community School, IMN Community School, SCHOOLS Program, Social Business | No Comments | Email This Post Email This Post | Print This Post Print This Post

 


Thank you Miranda and have a great time!

Miranda at HC

May 23, 2014
Erik Badger

At Haiti Partners, we just love Miranda Ash. I had the good fortune to be in Haiti when she and her wonderful colleagues from WorldBlu, Traci and Sam, visited in 2011. Despite a busy schedule, and all the challenges that a first visit to Haiti inevitably involves, she was enthusiastic, engaging, and just plain fun to be with. And, as you can see from this picture taken at out partner school, Henri Christophe, the kids just couldn’t get enough of her.

True to form, even after 3 years Miranda is still engaged with Haiti. This time she’s doing it from her home in London. On June 1st, she’ll participate in a 5k “Colour Run” – an aptly named event as viewers get to throw colorful paint on you as you go by – and, in the process, raise funds for our work in Haiti.

Click here to view Miranda’s Crowdrise fundraising page.

Thank you Miranda for thinking of Haiti and Haiti Partners as you tackle this year’s Colour Run! Have a great time; we’ll be with you in spirit!

*Planning a run, walk, cycling event, obstacle course, or something similar that you’d like to use to engage your friends and family with Haiti? If so, check out HP’s Crowdrise page and/or send us an email. We’d love to help!

 

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Partnership and Progress: Onto the Second Floor!

Extollo Construction Team

May 13, 2014

Partnership is so key to our work that we made sure to include it in our name: Haiti Partners. And for us, partnership means many things. It can be individuals coming to visit and learn about Haiti, groups connecting with schools or churches that are trying to move forward, or even institutions partnering to enhance and attain shared goals.

A great example of this is our partnership with Extollo International. Extollo brings decades of professional building experience to the goal of training Haitians with employable construction skills so that they can rebuild their country. Haiti Partners’ mission is to help Haitians change Haiti through education. It’s a perfect fit.

With Extollo handling the training and construction and Haiti Partners providing the project and infrastructure, together we have created a 13 person construction team, trained them in masonry, electric, plumbing and now welding, and set them to the task of building a 3 story building on the campus of the Children’s Academy which will house a bakery social business (to generate revenue for the school), a training center and a guesthouse.

This month, the team put the roof on the first floor. Click here to read Extollo’s excellent blog post about the progress.

Kudos to the team, to Extollo, and for all the fantastic work that’s happening through this partnership. We look forward to helping – through an exemplary partnership – Haitians change Haiti for years to come!

First Floor roof

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Jodie and James Kitchens share their Haiti experience

Jodie

Jodie with her son James, Haiti Partners Co-director John Engle, and John’s son, Daniel.

May 2, 2014

Haiti Partners was recently blessed to receive Jodie Kitchens and her son, James, in Haiti.  Below is an excellent piece about her experience with us as well as a video made by James. We’re grateful to them both for sharing and coming to learn about Haiti.

Thank you, Jodie and James!

~~~~~~~~~~

During a recent spring break from high school, my son and I decided to step way out of our comfort zone and arrange to visit Haiti Partners for a week at the Bellevue Guest House.  John and I went to primary and secondary school together many years ago, and I had kept up with his work in Haiti.  This would be a great time for James, my 17 year old son, to gain experiences as he is deciding his future direction.  The trip was all that and more for both of us!

Here are some highlights:

Children’s Academy:

There are two rooms of thirty students each class at Children’s Academy.  Although the open air nature of the school seems different to us, it’s quite common both for school and general household living.  As we walked up to the classrooms with John, the children welcomed us with open arms, quite literally.  Warm, inviting hugs!

We were fascinated to see the progress that Extollo, the construction company from California, was having in training local Haitians on earthquake proof building techniques as well as the progress on the building itself.  Having the bakery functional is not far off!

WOZO Choir:

A number of times during the visit we were entertained by this group of artists.  The music and teamwork is soul-lifting!  We were especially blessed when James played one of his songs on guitar for the group and quickly members of the choir layered a distinctly Haitian beat on his fiddle tune using the drums available:  A true and joyful melding of cultures.

Home Visit:James

James and I appreciated Alex’s help delivering a baby blanket to a family from the school that recently had a baby boy.  The family had obviously dressed up for our visit with all members in their Sunday best.  Immediately, the mother put the baby in James’ arms.  After the sheer panic wore off, he did great.  And the family was truly appreciative of the blanket, treats and our willingness to come to their home.

Community Meetings:

A large circle of parents and community members are gathered to listen to Rosedanie Cadet, from Helping Hands Noramise, review techniques eating healthier even when options and money are limited.  I loved her hands on style of engagement; encouraging questions, using props of food purchased at the market and ensuring respect in the classroom.  She has definitely left a mark on my heart.

Later in the week, we attended a community meeting back at the school.  It’s a cornerstone to the efforts at the school to build community, develop a more democratic approach to issues and to provide a forum to improve lives in the community.  Topics included health concerns, clean water, and the successful registration of next year’s Children’s Academy class of students.

Business Meetings:

Throughout the week, John graciously allowed me to participate in some business and partner meetings:  YUNUS Social Business and Beyond Borders to name a few.  I continued to be impressed by the level of professionalism and caring the individuals exhibited in their daily jobs.  And finally, we were guests at the monthly Haiti Partners staff meeting.

Other sightseeing included a hike to Fort Jacques, a trip to Darbonne to see the Henri Christophe school, the new poultry plant in partnership with YUNUS Social Business, the  Habitat for Humanity village, and the composting in partnership with GiveLove.

I was asked to share what I had thought I would find in Haiti and how my experience had been surprising.  My expectations of being fearful and concerned have given way as I’ve been met over and over by gracious and engaging people -  especially the young adults of the WOZO choir.

I am struck by how much I have laughed, smiled and how uplifted I have been.  The Haitians say ‘Mountain after mountain’ to characterize the challenge after challenge that Haitians have had to overcome.  The group today appears to be committed to skipping up these mountains arm in arm while singing and laughing!

More detailed information about our trip is open to the public and can be found on my Facebook page under Jodie Snyder Kitchens.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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“This is my body, broken for you”

April 18, 2014

This Good Friday, we remember one of Kent’s reflections from the months right after the January 2010 earthquake. 

I arrive fifteen minutes into the church service—late in one obvious sense, but I had been there an hour earlier too when nobody had arrived yet, so to my credit, I’d been both early and late. The starting time wasn’t firm. The fact they are meeting at all is remarkable.

The church is a pile of rubble. Nothing left. The school beside it is damaged but standing. Nobody had been in the church when it collapsed, but one teacher died in the church school when the roof partially collapsed in his classroom.

The congregation is spread out in three clumps, each trying to find refuge under some kind of shade. One group is under a tree. I join a group of about a hundred people seeking shade near a still-standing outhouse. No room in the shade for this latecomer. I stand listening to the service, singing along to the familiar songs.

I am in the back row with the teenagers. And just to prove that there are some constant universals, even after a staggering natural disaster, even next to a collapsed church building, even with everyone in the congregation now homeless and sleeping outside—the teenagers are whispering, flirting and texting on their phones.

It’s distracting as I stand sweating, but also funny and comforting. (The world may collapse, but hormones and teenage love endure.)

The service goes on. It is incredible to be singing hymns of praise with them, some of whom I’ve known for a long time. My faith has always felt buoyed in church here. If our singing voices were made visible as colorful helium balloons released, mine would be straggling at the bottom, holding on to the strings of others for lift. (Even 0though I of course have the least material excuse for lack of faith of anyone here.) But it does lift—my song, my praise, together.

As the service moves toward Communion, I see Andre, the church deacon I’ve known since first moving to Haiti, start to make his way across the rubble. After the earthquake, I had walked on the rubble when I first got to town, and it’s precarious in spots. I can’t figure out what he’s doing up there in the middle of the service.

We are moving closer still to Communion, hearing about Jesus with his disciples in the upper room. Andre is up toward the front of the crumbled church now. He is reaching through a tangle of rebar, opening a small concrete cabinet.

Then I realize.

We’re singing together about the bread and the wine. “This is Christ’s body broken for you. This is Christ’s blood shed for you.”

Andre pulls out the Communion wafers. The only part of the building or furniture in the church that wasn’t smashed to pieces, which I hadn’t noticed when I’d been here before, was where they kept the Communion wafers.

Andre is carrying them back over the rubble, each step careful.

“This is my body broken for you.”

He makes his way to the rough wood table outside where Communion now happens.

“This is my blood shed for you.”

Off to the left is where the teacher died. A ten-minute walk away is where I almost broke down crying as I talked with the mother holding her son, whose father had died saving him.

“This is my body broken for you.”

The body of Christ in this place broken, literally broken bodies, broken homes, broken church building.

We line up to go forward and receive. In front of me is a grandmother.

She’s lost everything and sees her family and community devastated. She’s frail. She moves forward without hesitation in the line. A young man behind me. What dreams can he dream now? He keeps moving forward for the bread.

“This is my body broken for you.”

I arrive and the jagged Communion wafer—Christ’s presence, yes, Christ’s presence that did not stop the church from falling, that did not protect the teacher in the school or the dad on the porch, but Christ’s presence here in the pile of rubble and here in this group of people in a sun-struck yard—is placed on my tongue.

For the rest of the service I sit on some rocks, still without shade, next to Jean, whose legs are atrophied and folded under him. He can’t walk. He’s led a tough life with his disability. Before the earthquake, he always sat on the aisle in one of the front rows. When the first chord of the Communion song was struck, the song signaling we could come up front to receive the bread, the song whose chorus is “Vinn jwenn Jezi, Vinn jwenn Jezi,” Come find Jesus, Come find Jesus, Jean would swing out and, using his hands and arms to propel himself, be first in line. He was always the first to come find Jesus.

And here in the rubble, come find Jesus.

Our God whose distance we don’t understand, whose distance we experience as so much suffering and uncertainty and mixed messages. And yet too our God who is right there with Jean first in line and now with people next to a pile of rubble, with their lost loved ones and lost homes down the various paths.

Communion finishes. Andre makes his way back gingerly over the pile to return what is left of the body, broken for us.

The broken God who couldn’t feel more distant/near to me in this moment on the rock next to Jean, a jagged Communion wafer dissolving in my stomach.

The rubble seems like evidence of God’s absence or abandonment and yet here I sit, taking and eating the rubbled body of Christ. Here, week after week, people come to find Jesus. The rubble may make him harder to find, but maybe, like the wafers in the center of this leveled church, he never left and never will.

Excerpt from After Shock by Kent Annan. Copyright © 2011 by Kent Annan. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press.

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