That which binds us

That which binds us

At St. Joseph’s Home for Boys they have a tradition every year which involves choosing one of the beautiful pictures that hangs around the home and inviting guests at the anniversary celebration to comment on what the picture means to them and their connection to the family. This year the picture depicted multiple young Haitian men, of all shapes and sizes, playing and talking out on a street corner.

The most interesting feature of the painting to me was the fact that none of the boy’s faces had any distinct features. They were all painted more or less the same without eyes, noses, or mouths, just blurry outlines that made all the boys look more or less the same. As I reflected on why the painter may have made this choice, Gasty, one of St. Joe’s younger boys, kept poking me in the side, teasing me as we sat together. In that moment it hit me: the faces are blurry because the details aren’t what are important.

I have been coming to Haiti for nine years now, and everywhere I go, I am welcomed by people who look nothing like me, whose lives are nothing like mine, who’s experiences and backgrounds look nothing like my own, and yet we are able to put all of that aside because the specific details of our lives that separate us are not important. What’s important is that I have found a place where all you need to do is be able to smile and love in order to build trust. All you need to do is keep showing up year after year and offering your heart, your friendship, and your love.

My relationship with St. Joseph’s Family and all those who are a part of it is a beacon of hope in my life. It reminds me that people are strong, they can literally “rise from the rubble” as this family and all those in Haiti have done time and time again. They can continue to trust in something greater than themselves. They can continue to “turn the other cheek,” and teach love instead of hate no matter how many people have hurt them in the past. The details that separate us are not important. Instead, it’s the qualities of love, hope, and trust that are important – which is why I know I will be celebrating many more anniversaries with this family for years to come. Happy 31st Anniversary St. Joseph’s Family!

More photos from the 31st St. Joseph Family anniversary celebration

Bill Nathan drums at the SJF anniversary celebration

Bill Nathan drums at the anniversary celebration

Hearts with Haiti board member at the anniversary

Hearts with Haiti board members shared in the celebration

Wootrod plays guitar at the 31st SJF anniversary celebration

Wootrod shares his tremendous musical gifts with the celebrants

31st SJF anniversary painting

The theme of the 31st SJF anniversary was Trust

Lou Lou plays drums at the 31st SJF anniversary celebration

More sharing of musical gifts

Celebrating family!

What a blessing to have so many visitors from near and far present for the celebration!

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A Celebration of Home

A Celebration of Home

It’s 5:30 am in Jacmel, and though the roosters are only beginning to lazily rehearse their crows, the children at Wings of Hope are wide awake and bursting with excitement. “Fèt la se jodi a!”  The Wings of Hope dedication is today! Visitors from near and far are coming to participate in the dedication and celebrate the opening of the new Wings of Hope!

For six years the staff and residents at Wings of Hope have been dreaming about this day. After their home was destroyed by the earthquake in 2010 they’ve been living in temporary housing that was not designed for wheelchairs or for children who need to run, move, and play.  But, despite the extreme gratitude felt for simply having a safe place to live, the moment the new plans were drawn up it was clear that their new house would be truly a home, made exactly and precisely for them.

Vilner pushes Teddy to the boys room

In this new home, Vilner – despite his own limited mobility – can push his friend Teddy across the courtyard to get cleaned up after lunch. David can get to the activity room to play games all by himself, and Josephine can wash her own hands in the appropriately sized and installed sink.

This new home allows the residents at Wings the opportunity to accomplish these seemingly small tasks – tasks that most of us take for granted every hour of every day – with dignity and pride. It is a home that emphasizes a-bilities over dis-abilities.

As expected, the dedication service at the new Wings of Hope was a joyous and celebratory event. Nearly 100 visitors from over a dozen different local agencies attended, enjoying musical performances by the Wings children, cultural performances by a local dance troupe, a moving worship service, room blessings, and a delicious meal. The entire event was an affirmation of the years of hard work, prayers, service, and support that went into creating this new home for this very special family. We look forward to many, many more celebrations to come!

Learn more about the Wings of Hope Rebuilding program.

Wings of Hope Dedication Photos!

Wings of Hope dedication

Visitors from over a dozen different organizations traveled from near and far to attend the Wings of Hope dedication in Jacmel, Haiti.

Wings children singing

Wings of Hope residents perform a song for the audience.

Wings of Hope staff

The talented and dedicated Wings of Hope staff.

Room blessing

Room blessing

Room blessings with Wings of Hope staff and residents and Hearts with Haiti board members.

Dance troupe

Cultural performance by local dance troupe.

Dance party at Wings of Hope

Wings of Hope dance party!

Wings of Hope Dedication Program - Cover

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Reconnecting with friends

Reconnecting with friends

Last weekend the Hearts with Haiti Board of Trustees came together to meet face-to-face for two days in Raleigh, NC. Because board members are dispersed throughout the U.S. and Haiti (we are fortunate to have both Bill Nathan and Daniel Jean Mary on our board), most meetings are held via teleconference. However, once a quarter we celebrate the opportunity to come together in person to both conduct business and share in fellowship.

In addition to a productive set of meetings, we made time to rekindle friendships as we came together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of St. Joseph’s here in the U.S. We received warm wishes from old and new friends, visited communities of long-term support (where Bill and Daniel entertained elementary students with stories from Haiti), and even got to enjoy the Haitian version of “happy birthday”.

What a blessing it is to be a part of this community and this family!

brothers separated at birth

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