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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Sadraque Smiles

Sadraque Smiles
Wings of Hope gained another angel on March 18, 2016. It was then that Sadraque went to his heavenly home. Our hearts break with his passing, but we know that Sadraque is now dancing with the angels and watching over all his brothers and sisters at Wings of Hope and the St. Joseph Family, and everyone whose lives he has touched.

Sadraque suffered with seizures the entire 14 years he was a part of the Wings of Hope family. Most of the time those were managed well with medication. He still had seizures from time-to-time, so he wore a helmet to protect his head if he had a seizure. For the past couple of weeks, Sadraque’s seizures were more and more frequent and nothing the doctors prescribed was working in controlling them. For several days prior to his death, his seizures were almost constant and in-between the seizures he was so tired and worn out that he spent most of his time in bed. He barely had time to recover from one seizure before another one started. Despite the best efforts of the Wings nurses, leadership and staff, and the doctors, Sadraque’s battered and weakened body had just had enough on the evening of March 18 and he slipped away, surrounded by the people who loved him.

Sadraque came to Wings of Hope in 2002. He was abandoned by his family, so we never knew his birthdate, but we think he was born in 1992. He was brought to Wings of Hope by a social worker. He was abandoned on the streets by his family because of his disability. He was first placed at another orphanage, but they could not deal with his special needs, so he was brought to Wings of Hope. Besides, or maybe because of, his seizure disorder, Sadraque had some intellectual challenges. He processed and learned new information slowly. He also had some attachment issues, probably due to his family history. He was great at knowing days, dates, and times, however. If he was looking forward to a certain event, he could tell you how many days it was until that happened, and often did a countdown to the day he was waiting for.

As Sadraque grew in the Wings of Hope family and started to receive medication to control his seizures his self-confidence and social skills increased. He loved Wings of Hope and all of his family there. He liked to help the other children and being a big brother to them. He also liked Zèl, the Wings of Hope dog, and liked to play with her and feed her. Sadraque loved field trips, especially ones to St. Joseph’s Home for parties and worship services.

Sadraque loved the visitors who came to Wings of Hope. He was often one of the first ones running to the gate to greet people with a high-five or warm hug. He loved to take people by the hand and walk around with them. He loved getting his picture taken and would often pose with various people until he had a picture with everyone. Sadraque loved to dance and would bring others, particularly visitors, into a dance party by taking them by the hand and dancing with them.

Sadraque was the most grateful person I ever met. He was happy and grateful for just about everything and made sure you knew it. After you answered a question for him, his response always was, “Okay, thank you.” When he went out to lunch with a visitor, he probably thanked them a dozen times during the outing. Sadraque was also one of the happiest people ever. He constantly had a huge smile on his face and that made everyone else smile. It was hard to have a bad day around Sadraque. His happiness was infectious. He would often come up behind me and tap me on the shoulder so I would turn around and give him a hug. Or he would just tap you on the shoulder and smile as he was walking by you, to acknowledge you and let you know he was there and that he cared about you. Sadraque was very kind and thoughtful and always thinking of ways to help others or make their days brighter. Several times when he went out to lunch he stuffed his pockets with french fries to take back to the kids who didn’t get to go to lunch. He would always share his treats and toys with others. He could be very quite and calm and just sit with you, not talking or doing any particular activity, but just enjoying the being in your presence and sharing time together.

In the days since his passing, in tributes to him on Facebook people have most often described Sadraque as gentle, loving, calm, happy, and caring. He definitely was all those things. And he touched the hearts of everyone he ever came in contact with.

Sadraque’s favorite time of the year was Christmas. He LOVED LOVED LOVED Santa Claus. He couldn’t wait for each of the Wings of Hope Christmas activities, from decorating the tree, to the Christmas boutique, to the party. Everything about Christmas was filled with joy for him. But, nothing beat the appearance of Santa Claus at the Wings of Hope Christmas party. Sadraque could never contain himself around Santa and embraced him with a look of absolute joy when Santa came to Wings.

The passing of Sadraque leaves a huge hole in our hearts and in the Wings of Hope community. But, we know he is healthy and seizure-free now and happily dancing in heaven and embracing all of his friends who have gone before him. We will miss him every day until we see him again, but we know he is with us always in our hearts and watching over us as our newest guardian angel.

— St. Joseph Family, Haiti
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Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Little caterpillar, what do you see?
Walking along so close to the ground
Making your way in the world an inch at a time
Progressing slowly but surely
Moving with joy but uncertain of the path

Then one day everything changes
The world gets dark and scary and uncertain
Enveloped in the chrysalis of change
Questions swirl in your mind…
What is happening?
What comes next?
Is this the end?

Finally one day a crack in the darkness appears
Could this sliver of light be a new beginning?
Slowly the world comes into focus
And a new being emerges
But the questions still persist
What have I become?
How do I move in the world now?

The sun brings light and understanding
As confidence is gained
And fear falls away
Your questions are finally answered
As you realize an end is really a new beginning
And that you have become your dreams
An explosion of beauty and color fills the sky
Because it is now you can take flight on WINGS OF HOPE!

Written by Renee Dietrich for the dedication of Wings of Hope, Jacmel ~ January 29, 2016

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Haiti (a poem)

Haiti (a poem)

It is a country, and for some it is a home

And for others, who visit, it is a journey in life.

You can come to

Find what you may be missing or what is giving you direction in life.

The people you live with that you really don’t know,

But, for one week, you exist with and get to understand why God put you together to come here.

Trash everywhere, smoke, and diesel fumes, young children waiting for school, and

The old man walking beside the road in the afternoon, on the way to out to Paradise Hotel.

People we meet from Canada to California and other places of the world.

Why does God send us here?

Painting and preparation for a new life for some that really only exist because He made them for

us to realize that life is very precious, and that we shall not take it as a grain of salt.

Every day I am here I want to be more God-like, I want to make someone feel a little better by

buying a gift, giving a hug, or telling a joke to make someone smile.

Because that’s what God would be proud of

The man that we see on the road could be Jesus, because we don’t know when he is coming back

to change this world.

That is what we believe in the faith of being Christians.

When we come on a mission trip, we as Americans do all the work we plan to do with the time

we have here, but it turns into a self-evaluation.

This is my first and not my last Haiti trip. I came on this trip to serve Him and to experience

another place in time on my journey through this life that I have been blessed with for sixty short

years, a blink of God’s eyes.

He watched over me in the good and bad, and I give Him all the praise.

Every day I get up around six to seek God’s creation; sun, clouds, blue sky, waves crashing on

the little beach. I say my prayers to thank Him for watching over our team from day to day and

our people back home.

— Barry L. Allen

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Giving color to the new Wings of Hope

Giving color to the new Wings of Hope

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!

 

Volunteers painting the walls at Wings of Hope

Painting Wings of Hope

painting courtyard wall at wings of hope

photo of courtyard at Wings of Hope

view of Wings from the top of Lekol Sen Trinite

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Handicap accessibility isn’t a thing in Haiti

Handicap accessibility isn’t a thing in Haiti

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.

photo of Wings children being pushed down ramp

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The most beautiful place on earth

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Saying goodbye to Fermathe…

Saying goodbye to Fermathe…

 

Hope moved to the sleepy little village of Fermathe, which—though it’s just up the mountain from the capital—might as well be a world away.

In a place like Fermathe, in a country like Haiti, the general consensus on the streets is that people with mental and physical disabilities are the manifestation of evil spirits. In Fermathe, in 1995, being disabled was not only not accepted; it was feared.

For this reason, you simply didn’t see non-disabled individuals interacting with the disabled population. Those that are disabled were generally hidden away by their families or left to fend for themselves. They were often abused, neglected, abandoned, and mocked.

Because of those attitudes, the arrival of the Wings of Hope family in Fermathe was met with a level of curiosity… and also feelings of fear and uncertainty.

But that attitude has changed over past twenty years, thanks to the residents and staff of Wings of Hope. There, employees gathered alongside disabled children and adults. They came to know and love the residents of Wings of Hope and approach them with care and respect, as their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Eventually families and friends did as well — wives whose husbands worked at Wings, sons whose mothers washed the laundry, children of workers, friends of friends. Everyone was transformed by their interactions with the Wings of Hope family.

As the children of Wings of Hope went out into the community, their neighbors became friends. Whether it was a walk down the street to purchase a snack and a drink with their allowance, or a trip to the Baptist Mission with visitors, the Wings of Hope children began to change attitudes with their very presence and joy. The members of the community could see that the Wings of Hope residents, despite their challenges, were not to be feared. They, God’s most-loved children, should be respected and valued.

Through their diligent example, love prevailed and spread like wildfire, and these children and adults with disabilities became a beacon of light to their community. These beautiful and broken hearts that had been overlooked and left behind began to heal. In turn, they healed all those that came into contact with them.

It has been 20 years. In that time, as the residents of Wings of Hope have come out of their shells, grown and matured, so have the citizens of Fermathe. As we now say goodbye to Fermathe, a place of reconciliation and transformation, we look to Jacmel, and the wonderful possibilities that exist to transform a new community. We hope, and we pray, that the journey will continue, and that love and acceptance will continue to prevail.

— Elizabeth Whitmire

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Wings move and dedication dates set!

Wings move and dedication dates set!

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!

Wings of Hope courtyard in Jacmel, Haiti

Residents at Wings will enjoy the open and completely wheelchair-accessible facilities in Jacmel, including this beautiful new courtyard.

 

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!

Donate now… and give the gift of HOME!

  • Wings move date: mid-November
  • Wings dedication date: Friday, January 29, 2016

Make your reservation TODAY! Contact Renee at sjgrants@hotmail.com.

 

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“Haiti Through Our Eyes” 2016 Calendar

“Haiti Through Our Eyes” 2016 Calendar

It’s here!

You asked for it, and we delivered. The 2016 St. Joseph Family calendar, “Haiti Through our Eyes” is here. This beautiful calendar celebrates the Wings of Hope Family by showcasing photographs made by twelve of the Wings residents during their summer photography course. Each month provides a short description of the photographer and a collage of their work. (See more about the summer photography course on the SJF facebook page.)

The calendars make perfect gifts for those who know and love the children at Wings of Hope or for those who simply wish to make the world a better place. The calendars are professionally printed on 100 lb txt heavy weight paper and have holes drilled for hanging. Calendar dimensions are 12 x 18″.

We need your help selling the calendars! Thanks to a very generous donor, our printing costs have have been completely, so 100% of the proceeds will profit the organization – making this a HUGE fundraising opportunity! These calendars sell well at Advent Fairs and holiday craft fairs. Order yours today!

 

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