Celebrating 10 years of teacher training

Celebrating 10 years of teacher training

It had been overcast and rainy every day in Fermathe that week, which didn’t bode well for the upcoming teacher training session. Having participated as the students in a teacher training workshop on Wednesday, the Wings of Hope teachers were eagerly looking forward to sharing their new expertise with a group of teachers from nearby Duplan. But, given the size of the group, the best place to host the training was on the front porch. However, the weather would have to cooperate to be able to use the open-air space.

This model of teacher training – in particular empowering Haitian educators to provide training for other Haitian teachers – has been 10 years in the making, thanks to a group of dedicated educators from North Carolina. Aware of their own privilege and access to professional development resources, these educators felt called to share the gifts that had been given to them with others.

“I learned that the most important thing is to show up and let the invisible become visible, that is, to allow God to become visible through you and your actions.”

Teachers show off science lesson around metamorphasisThe workshops are organized around a particular theme, in which the teacher students are provided instruction about the active learning process by participating in lessons that model this form of pedagogy. This year’s theme was “transformation” and used the image of the butterfly (papiyon in Creole) to engage in active learning exercises in reading, science, bible study, and music.

Further reinforcing the process, the teachers work together to create their own children’s book based on the theme. They are provided with cameras to use to photograph images that are representative of the theme. They then annotate the photographs in Creole. The finished books, which will be printed in the U.S. and brought back on a future trip, are distributed back to the teachers to be used in their classrooms.

Teachers work on annotating their book

One of the teachers from North Carolina excitedly reported that “the workshops (which are translated into Creole) were an overwhelming success with the teachers enthusiastically engaged in the active learning process and coming away with many new materials and ideas of how to teach children.  There was also much singing and laughing throughout the day.”

As the roosters crowed on Friday morning, the day that the Wings of Hope teachers were to lead the teacher training workshop, the sun filled the sky and the clouds drifted away. It was going to be a perfect day for a workshop on the porch.

Chairs and tables were set out for the expected 15 teacher students from Duplan… and just as quickly they were filled. More chairs and more tables were retrieved as teachers continued to arrive. Word had gotten out about the workshop, and an additional 10 teachers made their own transportation arrangements to travel to Fermathe and participate.

Wings of Hope teacher teaches a teacher training workshopThe training went as planned, with the weather cooperating and the students fully engaged in learning. “It was rewarding to see the Wings of Hope teachers take ownership of the knowledge and materials and share them with their fellow teachers,” said one of the North Carolina teachers.

At the end of each training session the teacher students were each given a beautiful certificate acknowledging their participation in the workshop. But on this day, in recognition of the 10 year commitment that the North Carolina educators have made to this community and to this mission, the Wings of Hope teachers presented the NC teachers with their very own certificate.

Wings of Hope teachers give a certificate to the NC teachers

Reflecting on the experience, one of the NC teachers remarked, “I learned that the most important thing is to show up and let the invisible become visible, that is, to allow God to become visible through you and your actions.”

Indeed, God was visible through the actions of this group of dedicated individuals. Thank you for your continued service to the children and teachers in Haiti!

See more photos on our facebook page!


Lekol sen Trinite teachers create books in Creole

Building a Creole library

One of the many wonderful outcomes of these workshops is the opportunity for the Haitian teachers to create a book that is written in Creole and is culturally relevant to Haitian children. Each year the American teachers choose a theme for the book and work with the Haitian teachers to take photographs using cameras provided by the U.S. team. They then write the corresponding story in Creole. Books in Haiti are rare enough, but books written in Creole are virtually nonexistent, making it extremely difficult for children to learn to read and write. Joy and pride fills the teachers’ faces as each year as they receive these precious commodities, written in their native tongue.

Books written in Creole by Haitian teachers

To learn more about the challenges of the education system in Haiti:



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30 Years with the St. Joseph Family

30 Years with the St. Joseph Family
Thirty years ago I took a leap of faith and got into a cab to go across Port-au-Prince to visit Michael Geilenfeld and the five boys he had come to know during his time with the Brothers of Charity. His mom, Mabel, asked us to visit him at the start of his new adventure.
There were four of us; none of us spoke Creole and the cab driver didn’t speak English. All we had is the address Michael’s mom gave us.
When we arrived at the small house behind the cardboard factory Michael and the boys had just finished their morning meal. They had no furniture, only mats on the floor on which to sleep. They were hoping to get enough money to purchase a guitar and some furniture. What a humbling experience!!


Previous to our visit, some journalists from the Gazette, our hometown paper, had also been there. When we returned to Cedar Rapids there was a separate section in the Sunday Gazette about our trip to Haiti and their visit to Michael’s. They were so impressed with the work he had started.


In the past thirty years I have traveled to Haiti at least once a year. Most years I have celebrated their anniversaries with them in person, missing very few — which tells you how much they are in my heart.
The St. Joseph Family is my family.
We have watched many of these boys grow up and take on leadership roles. Gary and I have hosted the Resurrection Dance Theater at least three times. Each time they became more professional. I am so proud of them.


In 1994 we visited just after they took over Wings of Hope and they were still in the rented house. We visited the house in Fermathe that was to be remodeled and become their home. What a big leap of faith for the family.


I have witnessed through the years the growth of the family to include Trinity House in Jacmel and eventually Lekol Sen Trinite and now the new bakery.


A little more than 12 years ago my daughter, Renee, decided to join the family. We were so pleased with her decision and also a little frightened for her. I remember vividly leaving her in the square in Petionville to catch the bus to Wings of Hope. She has grown and prospered in the family, and I am very proud of her.


Since the earthquake five years ago many things have changed. The loss of two of the homes meant a long rebuilding process. The original house on Delmas 91 was purchased and used as a temporary home until the new St. Joseph’s home was build. What a joyful anniversary that was when the new building was dedicated!


Wings of Hope was very lucky to find two adjacent homes to rent so that they could keep the members of Wings of Hope safe. Although they have been made to be handicap-accessible, it is only nominally so. Hopefully this year they will be able to move into the new home being built in Jacmel. It is built on a flat piece of ground and will meet the needs of the Wings family very well. It is adjacent to Trinity House and the Nuovo Vi Bakery. It should open many new opportunities for the Wings family.


It is with great regret that I am not there in person for the celebration 30th Anniversary of the St. Joseph Family, but I will be with you in my thoughts and prayers.


These thirty years have not been without challenges, but “with God all things are possible” — as has been proven many times over the years. I wish all the best for all the family.


Michael is a very special person who wanted to help the children of Haiti. May God Bless him and the St. Joseph’s Family.


— Lucy Dietrich
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