In November we posted about a new member of the Wings of Hope family, Jonas. Shortly after we introduced Jonas it because clear that there was more to his story then we knew. His mother and father had two boys, Jonas and his brother. The mother apparently didn’t want to care for a child with special needs and abandoned him at the Missionaries of Charity home in Jacmel, then left town with her other son. Jonas’ father, however, very much wanted his son. He searched for days at all the orphanages looking for him. Finally he went to the authorities to file a missing child report. They knew about the little boy who had been abandoned and came to Wings to pick Jonas up and return him to his father. All of this happened on Thanksgiving Day in the US, which became a Homecoming Day for little Jonas. We are sure his father is glad to have him home, given all he did to find him. We are thankful for the short time that Jonas was in our lives and we wish him and his father well on their journey together.Share this:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Corinthians 13
Among our church’s longest and strongest Outreach relationships is that with the St. Joseph Family. Founded in the 1980’s to provide a home for boys living on the streets, it has come a long way and this year achieved two new milestones, in which our partnership played an important part.
In the 1994, the boys in St. Joseph’s Family saw a new need in their community. Many disabled children in Haiti were faced with bleak futures—they often were born into families without the financial resources to provide the care needed and some in the culture did not accept these children, viewing them as a sign of God’s disfavor. This led the St. Joseph Family to take a leap of faith, creating Wings of Hope, a home for disabled children, once again using the approach of rebuilding a family for those society had neglected and rejected.
The earthquake in 2010 shook the foundations of many institutions in Haiti, and the St. Joseph Family was among them. Both of their facilities were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. For the last five years, the thirty members of the Wings of Hope family have been living in a jury-rigged rental house in the hills above Port-au-Prince. The love and support of the caregivers remained unchanged, but the physical challenges of a three-story house accommodating severely disabled children, many in wheelchairs, were daunting.
Faith, hope and love are the true foundations of the St. Joseph Family, however, and they put these to work, dreaming of new facilities to replace the old, places where loving care could take place in a setting tailored to the needs of the children. With the help of their Raleigh-based fundraising arm, Hearts with Haiti, they raised money for a world-class facility and began construction. Your generosity through the Capital Campaign tithe played a key role in this process. In January the new Wings of Hope opened in Jacmel.
Our Mission Team visited the new Wings in late March and was blown away by the new facility. Brightly colored, all on one level, and surrounding an open-courtyard, it’s a facility designed with the needs to the disabled first and foremost.
The boy’s rooms, paid for by your donations, was bright and spotless, with beautiful Haitian art decorating the walls, and the girls dormitory was similarly beautiful. The smiles on the faces and the joy in the voices of the children provided the clearest message—they love their new home. We were blessed to share the Easter service with them and were moved to tears by the way in which all, even those who cannot speak in words, are included in the service. We also had a chance to give each child a set of Easter cards made by the children in our Sunday School classes, which were received with great excitement.
The St. Joseph Family has also experienced a second re-birth over the last year. The plan of the founder was to ultimately turn over leadership of the Family to the alumni of the program. That is now coming into fruition as boys who grew up in the family have become young men, and are assuming leadership roles. Three of them, Maya Fond-Rose, Daniel Jean Mary, and Walnes Cangas spent the last three weeks in the US, meeting and thanking supporters and spreading the word about the good work of the family. A group from our church shared dinner with them, hearing first hand of their triumphs and challenges. All of us came away with a new sense of commitment to our partnership, which has brought much to so many in Haiti and in our congregation. We also hope many more people in our congregation can join trips to visit Haiti, and experience the beauty of the land and people first hand.
– Mark, for Global OutreachShare this:
The new program, “Timoun Jodi Granmoun Demen” (Children Today, Adults Tomorrow), directed by Bill Nathan, is already having a demonstrable impact on the lives of the young men involved. Bill developed this program to help the graduates from St. Joseph’s Home for Boys transition into independent living through job skills and independent living skills training.
In Jacmel, Camelo (a graduate of the SJF) is heading up the program for the boys who graduated from Trinity House:
- Dadzy is attending music school and making good use of a drum set that was gifted to him. Because he is blind, he has additional challenges that he has to overcome, but he is working hard to achieve his goals! His goal is to become a professional drummer; in the meantime he works at Wings playing drums for the kids during their therapy classes.
- Peter is going to school to learn how to be a carpenter. He also works full-time cleaning Lekol Sen Trinite and part-time at the guest house in Jacmel.
- Reginald also has both physical and mental challenges, but he also embodies the Wings motto, “possibilities, not disabilities”! Reginald is working as a cleaning person at Wings of Hope, and according to the SJF leaders, he is extremely conscientious and a very hard worker.
Camelo is working hard to teach these young men how to live independently, beginning with teaching them how to save their money by putting it into a bank account. With all the training they are receiving, they will one day be prepared to give back to the community of Jacmel.
Bravo, Camelo, Dadzy, Peter, and Reginald!Share this:
The update below is provided by our friends from St. James’s, who have volunteered to spend the week helping paint the walls of the new Wings of Hope in Jacmel. Thank you, St. James’s volunteers!
Slowly, but surely, it’s coming together! Our team from St. James’s church has been working tirelessly to lay down the second, third, and yes, sometimes 4th coats of paint, and the colors could not be more beautiful! Although the sun is hot and relentless, the payoff will be even better. Who could imagine a more deserving family, than our sweet friends at Wings of Hope. We have a few days to go, and we look forward to celebrating our dear friends in their beautiful new home! Bravo pou Wings!
Handicap accessibility isn’t a thing in Haiti. The streets, the roads, the buildings, are not built to accommodate those in wheelchairs or those who have problems walking. To have a disability and try to interact in society is almost impossible.
But, following the Wings of Hope theme, “Possibilities not disabilities,” the challenge of accessibility was one that the kids and staff took on in an effort to give the Wings of Hope children vast and diverse experiences in the community.
The favorite field trip for the Wings kids has always been to the Baptist Mission for lunch with visitors. Although it was just down the road, maneuvering down the street and through traffic was always an adventure. Then there were the stairs to get down into the Baptist Mission restaurant. It took 2-3 adults to carry heavy wheelchairs, each filled with a child or young adult, down the stairs… and back up again when it was time to go home. A ramp would have been nice, but in a place like Haiti, it was not a reality.
Then, one day in February 2012, the Wings of Hope family arrived for lunch at the Baptist Mission and was shocked beyond belief. There, next to the stairs that always presented a challenge, was a new ramp. A RAMP!
As the kids and their lunch companions stood there in amazement, Pastor Wallace and his wife came running outside. Pastor Wallace’s wife wanted the Wings of Hope family to know that she and her husband made the ramp as a gift to them. Her husband followed and proudly showed off the ramp. Founders of the Baptist Mission, Pastor Wallace and his wife bought all the materials themselves, and Pastor Wallace supervised the work. They had seen the challenge the stairs presented to the Wings of Hope family and responded in the most wonderful way.
The gift of the ramp not only eased the trip to the Baptist Mission but was also evidence of acceptance and community that has been created in Fermathe for the residents of Wings of Hope and other people with physical challenges.
The staff at the Baptist Mission have always been a welcoming neighbor and partner for Wings of Hope. The Wings of Hope family will always be grateful for their friendship and support over the past 20 years.
Thanks to the tremendous generosity of our supporters, construction on the new Wings of Hope in Jacmel continues to stay on-schedule, with a move date scheduled for mid-November. The children (and staff!) are eager to move and spend their first Christmas in their new home! Thank you for making it possible!
Our final hurdle is to raise the necessary funds for moving and finishing costs. One of the major cost items will be making repairs to the rental homes. Let’s just say that the children have really loved their home! We are very grateful to our landlords for their flexibility and trust, and we want to be sure to return their homes to them in the same condition they were when we began renting with them.
There are also costs associating with painting, generator repairs, personnel, etc. The Wings family has been extremely frugal with their resources, and they are saving costs in every possible way. However, we still need to raise another $40,000 to ensure that we have the necessary funds to ensure that the November move is as easy for the Wings family as possible.
You have gotten us this far… you have raised over $1 million! Let’s join together and make this final push to get the kids into their new wheelchair-accessible home!
- Wings move date: mid-November
- Wings dedication date: Friday, January 29, 2016
Make your reservation TODAY! Contact Renee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part two of a report by Ava-joye Burnett during her mission trip in Haiti. She and her other team members visited Wings of Hope in Fermathe, a home for children with mental and physical disabilities. In this story, Burnett interviews a physician, the home’s director, and a long-time volunteer.
Click on the video below or read the full story here.Share this:
Ava-joye Burnett, from the abc news team at WRIC in Richmond, Virginia, recently visited Wings of Hope and published this wonderful story about the home in Fermathe, Haiti that provides a family for children “who were literally left for dead.” Wings of Hope provides refuge for 31 children and young adults who have physical and mental disabilities.
Click on the video below to watch or read the full story here.Share this:
Erique and Pierre begin their days before the sun comes up, making their beds with extreme attention to detail. As they get ready for the day, they chatter back and forth in their own special language. Down the stairs and outside, it is time to shower. Pulling up a bucket of dauntingly cold water from the cistern, they march back into the house. Brushed teeth and clean clothes, their ‘formal’ day begins. Acting like the ‘big brothers’ they are to the other Wings of Hope residents, they help children into wheelchairs, assist with baths and help the other children eat breakfast. As they wait for their classes to begin, they find chores to do around the house — peel garlic for lunch, pull clean clothes from the laundry lines, mop the patio. With their chores finished, they find a quiet spot before the bell rings for prayers. Clasping their hands together, they stand at the edge of the balcony. The sun creeps over the mountains, the fog lifts, and from this joyful and hectic little home in the mountains of Fermathe they dream of the ocean.
Pierre nudges Erique. He points to a spot in the distance, and turning back with a devilish grin, he whispers, “Jacmel.”
And this is how the days go by… “Is today the day we’re going to Jacmel?” Pierre will ask the pastor. Ask the cook. Ask his teacher. They smile, “No, not today, Pierre. But soon.”
“Yes, soon,” Pierre whispers to himself as he begins a joyful charade of swimming, waving his hands through the air, throwing his head back, and spinning in circles.
The excitement is palpable. It is shared. It is celebratory. This beautiful family that lives to serve each other. This family that begins each day with mindfulness and prayer. This family that has spent the last five years living in a home built in complete contradiction to their needs. They are going to Jacmel, at last.
The new Wings of Hope in Jacmel has running water. It’s a one-story facility. It has a glorious courtyard for recreation and academic activities. And best of all, it has all of that sunshine that the Wings of Hope residents wait so patiently for up in the foggy mountains of Fermathe. And, of course, the ocean.
The walls are primed, the windows have been installed, and what has been a dream is quickly becoming a reality. Wings of Hope is moving to Jacmel in the fall. With the completion of our fundraising for the construction of the facility, we move to the fundraising that will turn walls and windows into a place to call home.
A home that Pierre and Erique have dreamed about, as they diligently serve their brothers and sisters in Christ, as they learn and grow, as they stand in the morning sunlight watching the fog lift from the mountain.
Pointing to the ocean, and whispering of Jacmel.