Wings of Hope Neighborhood Christmas Party 2016

Wings of Hope Neighborhood Christmas Party 2016

For many years the Wings of Hope residents have held a Christmas give-away for children in the neighborhood, first in Fermathe and now in Jacmel. The event consisted of designated children (a day before the event the Wings kids and staff walked around the neighborhood giving out tickets) coming to Wings and receiving a couple of cookies that the Wings kids had made and a couple of small toys. It was an outreach to the neighborhood kids from the Wings kids and we hoped it would give the neighborhood kids a positive experience with people with disabilities. This year the Wings kids and staff did something different. And it was AMAZING!

On Dec. 16, 2016, the Wings kids opened their home to 150 kids, and their parents. Again, you needed a special ticket to enter. But this was no simple cookie give-away. Instead the Wings kids and staff planned a Christmas party to top all Christmas parties. The kids and their parents started to arrive before the 10 am start time. They knew they were in for something special, as they were wearing the best clothes they had. They were greeted at the front door by Josephine, and at the entrance to the building by Vilner.

At 10 am, the staff started giving their guests tours of Wings, showing them the classrooms, bedrooms, and the living room/dining room. In each place the tour included an explanation about what the room is used for and the importance of the place being beautiful and welcoming because the Wings kids deserve the best. After the tours, the celebration started with songs, led by Gary.

Then Gephte spoke to the crowd about the Wings residents, and what it means to have a disability. He talked about people with disabilities being the same as everyone else, and that they need to be treated with dignity. At one point he hugged Teddy and told them, you can touch them, you can hug them, you can play with them, they are just like you. Then Teddy made the sign for “love” and told the crowd that the Wings kids love them. The neighborhood kids and their parents were all very accepting of these messages. It was wonderful.

Then the Wings staff and kids presented the Christmas pageant. It was INCREDIBLE! They always add something new each year. This year it was Reginald acting out the part of the star that the kings follow to Bethlehem. Of course, it also included the slaughter of the innocents and the death of Herod. The crowd loved it. There were lots of cheers. After that there were a few games while the Wings staff set up the gift table.

There was a huge selection of gifts – most of which came from the kids and staff. The Wings kids gave up some of their own toys and the staff pooled their money to buy toys for the neighborhood kids. It was so incredible to see. The Wings kids happily helped hand out presents and never asked for anything for themselves.

After they got their toys, the neighborhood kids then went to the dining room where they each got at bag of popcorn, a bag of Cheecos, a sandwich, crackers and candy. There were also coolers of Kool-Aid for people to drink with their lunch. The Wings kids were great hosts; they even picked up all the trash after the event was over – without being asked!

It was an incredibly amazing CELEBRATION A profound experience of community, acceptance, generosity, and love. The Wings kids and the Wings staff made so many people happy and I’m sure changed the way that people with handicaps are perceived. It was a perfect way to celebrate the season of love and light.

More photos available on the St. Joseph Family facebook page!

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Welcome to the Wings family, Jonas!

Welcome to the Wings family, Jonas!

Meet Jonas! He is the newest member of the Wings of Hope family. He came to Wings after being abandoned, so not much is known about his history or his medical condition, other than that he has some special needs. He came without even a name, so he was named Jonas in honor of a beloved member of the St. Joseph Family who passed away in July 2015. The Wings family is just getting to know Jonas, his needs, his personality, his abilities, and his possibilities. He is a sweet little guy, and we are happy he is now a part of the Wings family.

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DOUBLE your donation with Board Bucks!

DOUBLE your donation with Board Bucks!

Our Hearts with Haiti board members know first-hand how critical your donations are toward sustaining the transformative ministries of the St. Joseph Family. They believe so strongly in the mission of the SJF that they – board members past and present – pooled their funds to form a $60,000 matching grant.

Thanks to your generous that goal was not only met, it was exceeded! We thank you so much, mèsi anpil!

But wait…that’s not all. Later the board members presented a challenge. They would match up to $10,000 for all NEW donors or donors who haven’t given since November 2015. That goal was not only met but exceeded! We thank you so much, mèsi anpil!

 
It is because of your constant support that we are able to help sustain the transformative ministries of the St. Joseph Family. Jesus calls us in John to go and bear fruit, with your donations we are able to continue to pour into the lives of vulnerable children in Haiti and bear fruit within the St. Joseph Family communities.

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School bell rings at Lekòl Sen Trinite

School bell rings at Lekòl Sen Trinite

The school bell is ringing again at Lekòl Sen Trinite. The 2016-2017 school year started off with the opening of classes on September 5. As is typical, it took a couple of weeks for all the students to return to school, as many of them spend their break from school in the countryside. The class lists were finalized by mid-October.

Again this year, LST is educating 150 students from the Jacmel community. These are children who would not be able to attend school if it were not for LST, as they come from some of the poorest families in the community. LST is a tuition-free school, and all educational materials, uniforms, and other programming are made possible by our generous donors.

LST has both morning and afternoon sessions. The morning session has seven grades, from the Montessori preschool/kindergarten to sixth grade. The morning session is for both boys and girls. The afternoon session is girls only and has four grades, Montessori preschool/kindergarten through third grade.

We are proud that last year all of the sixth graders at LST passed their class successfully!

The Montessori preschool/kindergarten program, the only Montessori program in Jacmel, is a three year program before they can move on to first grade. Students as young as three years-old are accepted into the Montessori program at LST.

Little girl at Lekòl Sen Trinite receives gifts from a donor

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Hurricane Matthew Relief: Haiti Needs Your Help

Hurricane Matthew Relief: Haiti Needs Your Help

With 125 mph winds, Hurricane Matthew ravaged the country of Haiti, leaving death and destruction in its wake. The extent of the destruction is catastrophic – with some areas experiencing 90% loss, The actual number of deaths (currently nearly 900) will probably never be known.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have been able to fund the construction of buildings that can withstand hurricane force winds. Unfortunately, most Haitians do not have those luxuries. The families of the children who attend Lekòl Sen Trinite live in extremely simple homes – many with dirt floors and tarp walls. They are exceptionally vulnerable. They will need help. The SJF leaders and staff are actively following up with the families to identify needs, and – with your support – these families will receive the help they desperately need.

Because of our partnership with the St. Joseph Family in Haiti, you can feel confident that your donations are going directly to Haitians who are in need of your support. Please, help us help Haitians in need, today.

Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund

Mèsi anpil for your generosity, compassion and support!

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Tuesday evening update

Tuesday evening update

Renee was able to send out a very short message around 1:50pm today. We have not heard from her or any of our other loved ones in Haiti since, most likely due to lack of power and internet.

I am not sure if this will post. It is 1:50 PM. The Internet has been down since a little after 9 AM, I think. Cell phone service only working in about 20 second bursts very infrequently. Wind and rain is still bad in Jacmel. The wind was really wicked for a few hours mid morning to about 1PM. We are still holding out own at Wings, but wish this was over. It seems like it will be a long day followed by another long night.

The New York Times reports that one of the bridges collapsed, cutting off transportation. Reports also indicate that Les Cayes, Guichard’s home town, was hit particularly hard.

Plantains were unable to be harvested in time before the storm, which will undoubtedly contribute to a food shortage. Additionally, the storm destroyed avocado and banana trees, another major source of food and nutrition.

AID workers are expressing concern about lack of safe drinking water, which could lead to another cholera outbreak. Children are especially vulnerable. A UN official has said that this hurricane has caused the biggest humanitarian crisis since the 2010 earthquake.

Undoubtedly this will affect members of the SJF, both directly and indirectly. Though we have not heard of any damage reports yet, it is very likely that there will be – if not to the SJF buildings directly, then most certainly to the homes of employees and almost certainly the homes of LST students.

If you would like to donate toward offsetting these relief costs, you can do so easily by clicking the button below or by sending a check to the office (27 Horne St, Raleigh, NC 27607).

Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund

Mesi anpil to those of you who have already generously blessed us with your gifts!

Thank you for your prayers and expressions of grief, love, support, and concern. We will continue to send and share updates as we receive them.

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Welcome, Vilner!

Welcome, Vilner!

For several years Vilner attended classes at Wings of Hope as a day student. He lived in an orphanage near Wings of Hope when Wings was in Fermathe. That orphanage did not have any programs for kids with disabilities and Vilner flourished with the opportunities he received at Wings of Hope. When Wings moved to Jacmel the other orphanage recognized that Vilner would have many more opportunities living at Wings of Hope, so they transferred him to Wings. Vilner is now a full-time member of the Wings of Hope family. Vilner has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair. He also likes to get out of his chair and crawl. He has a speech problem and cannot speak clearly, but he has no problem communicating his needs and wants in other ways. He is a very intelligent, funny and personable young man. He loves to interact with the other kids and can often be found pushing a line of wheelchairs across the Wings courtyard. He likes to help the other kids any way he can.

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New teachers at Wings!

New teachers at Wings!

The move to Jacmel has been such a long wait, and such a beautiful ending! Moving the facility to a location hours away meant having to leave some of the staff behind, but now there are many, many new teachers for the Wings of Hope students! These teachers are clearly excited and very eager to learn how to better serve their students with such a variety of mental and physical exceptionalities. Having received training from visiting teacher groups, they’re armed with a plethora of new information and pounds and pounds of school supplies! Seeing how deeply the new teachers already care is a wonderful testament to the community that the Wings of Hope residents have created for themselves.

— Kim

photo of new staff at wings

new wings staff

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Ice, ice, baby

Ice, ice, baby

Staying cool during the hot summer days in Haiti can be a challenge, but not at Wings of Hope! Throughout the summer, visitors have been bringing various water toys and implements, for use in the (now tradition!) Wings water fights.

Hearts with Haiti board member, Julie Wade, was no exception. For her trip, she brought along an inflatable POOL! Now, anyone who has been to Haiti knows that water is collected from the rain in big cisterns… that sit in the hot sun all day long. So, the water isn’t exactly cold. That’s great if you’re taking a shower, but if the point is to cool off… not so refreshing.

Not to worry! Julie and the Wings Family know how to degage! Julie purchased a bag of ice, and voila! the water was, well… less warm.

The pool (and the ice) were a wonderful gift to all who have enjoyed these blessings! Thank you, Julie!

Photo collage of the inflatable pool at Wings

Photo credits: Renee Dietrich, Copyright 2016

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Hope reborn in Haiti

Hope reborn in Haiti

“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 bCardsoy’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 Outreach

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