My most vivid and favorite memory of my first trip to Haiti is the smiles of the Haitian children that I had the privilege of meeting. They knew that if I had a free moment I would eagerly play with them. They recognized that if I needed to go somewhere but had a free hand that I would welcome them to walk hand-in-hand and go there together. They also quickly learned that I always had a camera and could be easily convinced to take their picture and show it to them. As a result, I had the wonderfully unexpected experience of having kids approach me throughout the day with the unspoken request to have their picture taken – they simply made eye contact and flashed their irresistible smile. In particular, the young girl pictured above found me and shared her smile several times each day. No matter how many times she did this, it warmed my heart and I obliged each time.
Midway through my visit, I took a brief break from our project to step out of the hot sun and take a few pictures of an empty classroom. Apart from cooling down in the welcome shade, my intention was to take pictures that I could share with my daughters and that my wife (a teacher by trade) could share with American students. I was touched by both the modesty of the school room and the palpable hope that education was a ticket to a better life. As I knelt in the classroom intently focused on my camera screen, my young friend silently stepped into the frame… already sporting her magnetic smile.
However, this time she had brought her little brother so that he could join in our budding friendship. I suspect that her brother was too young to have met past volunteers, attended school or seen a camera. As I took my first photo, he was brimming with energy while trying to take in every exciting detail of this foreign visitor and the mysterious classroom for “big kids”. I reversed the camera to show them their first family portrait – featuring one well-rehearsed grin and a smaller blue blur. I then listened and watched as she gestured to the screen and seemed to explain that this was a picture of him. Their home in Williamson is far from standing water to provide reflections and mirrors are an impractical luxury. It is possible that he had never before seen himself and didn’t recogni ze the boy in the picture. However, he was a quick study, in the second picture (above) with the help of his big sister’s hands seemly saying “you stand right here” he came through with a smile that is now prominently featured on the walls of both my office and my home. Each time I look at this photo, I return the favor and smile back at them.
“Smile” – Take III. By the time of this last photo, my new friend already looks like he’s had years of experience posing for pictures. In May, I will have the good fortune of returning to Haiti for a second World Wide Village mission trip. I am already looking forward to getting reacquainted with new friends of all ages and to enjoy these amazing smiles once more!
Inspiration comes from unexpected places and that is certainly true for a group of nine-year-old students from Breck School in Minneapolis. The class had their second set of letters and artwork delivered to students in Haiti at a school supported by World Wide Village. Their enthusiasm for wanting to connect with and learn more about students from another country is only matched by their pen pals in Haiti.
The Breck students are full of questions about what life is like in Haiti. They want to know what classes their pen pals like best; what sports they play; what their favorite foods are; and whether they have pets or not. They express their joy through the artwork they create and share with the students in Haiti. Judging by the energy the Haitian students put into the artwork they create to share, I would say they share a love of creating art with their American counterparts.
As much as the students get out of the exchanges, it’s adults who are the most inspired by the project. It’s hard not to be moved by how open and eager these young students are about connecting with other kids they’ve never met and with their obvious love of learning more about the world.
Letters from Breck Students
While the love of learning is shared by young students in both countries it is much more difficult for children in Haiti to go to school than it is for children in this country. The Haitian government is only able to pay for about ten percent of its children to attend school. That means the only way for the rest of the kids in the country to get an education is for them to attend private schools. Too many families in Haiti have to choose between sending their kids to school and buying food to feed them, or, at best, sending only one child to school in a family with three or four children.
The New Year is a great time to open up new worlds for children in Haiti. For just $28 per month you can sponsor a student in the school we support. When you sponsor a student, you also allow World Wide Village to support the education of almost .5 more children!
Please help WWV to strengthen our ability to provide a path out of extreme poverty for the children of Haiti and make a commitment today to sponsor a child. Click right here and you’ll be on your way to changing the world for a child, and for Haiti.
This is Alta. She is 5 years old. On Monday, October 1, Alta started the new school year in Kindergarten at our Luly School.
WWV is pleased to announce that our three schools have experienced a 30% enrollment increase this year.
That means 210 more children will receive an education with a chance to break the bonds of illiteracy!
While we are thrilled about that,it does present a significant budget challenge for the upcoming school year due to an increase in salary costs and a 30% rise in food costs in Haiti since Tropical Storm Isaac.
We are sincerely grateful to our current Student Sponsors who so generously support our students. We need your help this week to sponsor 73 more children to bridge the current $2000 per month funding gap for all three schools.
Your commitment to sponsor a student is only $28 per month – $6.50 per week
- roughly the cost of one fast food lunch. Will you make that commitment to help provide the life-changing gift of education to a beautiful child like Alta?
One year ago, on October 4, 2011, Haitian President Michel Martelly dedicated a new school in Luly, Haiti that was built by World Wide Village. Today, with the start of the new school year, it looks like enrollment will reach 396 students! The school was built in partnership with the Digicel Foundation. Digicel is Haiti’s largest cell phone provider.
Originally the project was supposed to replace a school that had been destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. That school held 88 students. But God had other plans and drew Digicel to be our partners. Digicel’s participation allowed the project to grow to it’s current size — 4.5 times the original plan! The project has been a huge blessing to the community of Luly and is a source of pride for all the families in the Luly area.
But the blessing comes with a new challenge — 4.5 times more students means a large increase in the amount of money World Wide Village needs to raise to support the school. WWV support comes from student sponsorships. In order to fully meet its commitments to Luly school WWV needs to find sponsorships for 26 more students. We consider having too many students wanting to go to one of our sponsored schools a blessing, but it’s a blessing that needs your help to fulfill.
Will you help us support the children learning in school at Luly? Sponsor a student, or two, or five, today.
Oldine, Ronalson, Jesuméne, Ismaëly, Jimmy, and Gaens. These three young men and three young ladies, living in an orphanage in Lizon, Haiti, recently passed the mandatory 6th grade standards test required to further their education in Haiti. This exam, given only one day per year, has a very high failure rate, yet all six of these students scored very well. They desire to escape the bondage of lack of education. The next step for these bright students would be to start this school year as 7th graders. These children need your financial support to take this next step.
Jesumene, Age – 13, who likes movies. Her family died in the earthquake.
Late last week, I met with Raphael, the executive director of one of our partner organizations in Haiti, the Foundation for the Promising Children of Haiti. Raphael said, “Mr. Randy your organization has helped us by constructing new buildings, providing clothing to the children, building a swing set for us, and many other things. But the children really need your help now.” He went on to tell me about the children praying that World Wide Village would offer financial support for the $375 annual tuition for these six wannabe 7th graders. How could I say “no”?
The average Haitian female, when she reaches age 25, has only received two years of formal education. The illiteracy rate of the general population, for those over age 25, is 50%.
These six very bright young people have beaten the odds by successfully passing the test that more than 50% of their peers fail each year. They have a chance to break the cycle of chronic dependency. They have a chance to learn beyond anything their parents attained. These very promising young people have earned a spot for secondary education, and I’m pleading with you to join me in providing financial support.
Oldine, Age – 13, likes to play piano. Her family is too poor to provide care or education.
Annual tuition costs only $375 per student – provisions have already been offered for their uniforms, books and supplies. All we need is 23 donors at the $100 level or maybe 46 gifts at the $50 level. Perhaps God has blessed you financially. With your gift of $375 we will directly connect you to the student who will provide monthly reports of progress in 7th grade.
Please help today! This support falls outside our normal student sponsorship program but please know we intend to monitor progress, offer regular communications between the donors and students, and our prayer is for each of these children to continue their education through their high school graduation. You can help make that a reality.
On the donation page, please simply indicate your donation be in Honor of to FPCH Student Fund.
Please uplift Oldine, Ronalson, Jesuméne, Ismaëly, Jimmy, and Gaens in prayer. Pray that they not only have a rich experience in 7th grade, but will also break the cycle of chronic dependency in Haiti.
4-year-old Hannah is at it again! This past Sunday Hannah and her friends held their second annual lemonade and cookie sale for Haiti in Edina, MN. Last year she and her friends raised $89 to help build homes in Haiti. This year’s sale raised $136 – a whopping 53% increase over last year.
I spoke with Hannah’s mother, EmmyLou about who was really the mover and shaker behind the sale, and EmmyLou said emphatically that Hannah was behind the whole thing. In fact, EmmyLou said she had been so focused on completing her doctoral dissertation that she kept putting the sale off, but Hannah patiently waited and kept bringing it up. Finally, EmmyLou agreed to a date with Hannah and the sale was on.
The whole family helped out, with little brother Patrick waving and adding energy, father Dan waving signs and hawking their wares loudly, and EmmyLou, making the lemonade, baking cookies and setting the sale up.
Hannah decided to have her first sale last year after hearing the story at her church of a widowed woman in Haiti who was living with her two young sons in a tin and tarps temporary shelter on the site of her earthquake destroyed.
Randy Mortensen, President of World Wide Village, visited the sale this year to lend encouragement to Hannah. “We tell our story to hundreds of people every year,” he said, “and here’s a 4-year-old young lady who just gets it. The way she remembers the story about Anita and her boys (the Haitian widow) and how she remains committed to actually doing something to help…She inspires all of us at World Wide Village.”
He went on to say that if more people would take action like Hannah did, no matter how small, a lot more could be done to help build homes and help the people of Haiti lift themselves out of chronic poverty. “Hannah’s only 4,” he said, “and she’s already trying to change the world for the better. Now that’s the power of God at work in the world!”
Watching Hannah I have to ask, “What am I willing to do the change the world? What about you?”
You can change the world for Haitian child by helping us build permanent homes in Haiti for families like Anita’s. Please, click on the link below and make a donation today – Hannah would be proud that she inspired you, too.
Exciting news – we only need 58 more student sponsorships to fully fund the three schools World Wide Village operates in Haiti. We need a total of 256 sponsorships to pay the costs and we currently have 198. That’s’ close.
637 kids attend the schools, so every sponsorship actually allows 2.5 children to stay in school. In a country where 48% of the population cannot read, and only 25% of the adult women have more than a second grade education, keeping schools open is critical if Haiti is ever to rise up out of poverty.
As a parent of two school age kids, it’s beyond my ability to imagine my kids not being able to attend school. But that’s the reality for many children in Haiti. Families in Luly, Williamson and Dumont Haiti depend on our schools for their children’s education and a hot, nutritious meal every day. We are close to a level of stability that is hard to come by in Haiti.
Just 58 more sponsorships. We need 256. We have 198. 637 kids are depending on us. Somehow, just getting 58 more sponsorships doesn’t sound like that many, especially when you consider the impact.
Will you help us get there? (Click here). Or do know someone who can? (Send us their email address to us.)
The power of a well-placed message is amazing, and here’s proof.
On Tuesday, May 15th, the Style Network aired an episode of the Giuliana & Bill Show that featured star Bill Rancic taking a trip to Haiti to build a home with World Wide Village and our team of Haitian construction workers. Since the airing a little over a week ago, we have had more visitors to our website than we usually have in a month, with about 80% of them being new visitors. Even after pulling out the big boost of the first couple of days, we’re still averaging over 3 times as many visits per day than we were before the show.
Having web visitors is great, especially new visitors, but measure of impact is, “Did they take action while they were on the site?” In short, yes! Since the show aired we’ve had 20 people ask about taking a mission trip to Haiti, 16 new requests for internships, and a good number of online donations. In addition, we’ve had 5 people step up to sponsor a child in Haiti.
When Bill went to Haiti to build a home for Madame Josette’s family, he changed the lives of everyone in that family. However, since his show aired, several dozen lives have been potentially changed, and more are being positively affected every day. Plus, every time the episode airs again in the future, even more people will hear about World Wide Village and more lives will be changed.
We would love to take all the credit, but the truth is it was God who led to the connection between Bill Rancic and WWV, and it was God who moved Bill to build the home in Haiti and to share it with his audience. All we can do is thank God for opening the doors and thank Bill Rancic for opening his heart to World Wide Village and the people of Haiti. World Wide Village has been blessed by having big-hearted people like Bill supporting our efforts to help lift the people of Haiti.
To learn more about World Wide Village’s housing efforts in Haiti click here. You can also learn about how World Wide Village is partnering with professionals in the building and real estate industry to build homes in Haiti by visiting www.plusonehomes.com.
It was fun last night watching the hit “Giuliana & Bill Show” on the Style Network, and I couldn’t help cheering when he and his friends met Randy Mortensen, WWV President, at the house in Jacmel, Haiti that Bill had arranged to get built. They all worked alongside a crew of Haitian construction workers that had been trained by WWV. Bill arranged to build the house in order to keep a promise that he’d made to the family of Madame Josette. (See previous blog post).
As part of the show, Bill talked to the camera and told viewers to go to the World Wide Village website to support our work in Haiti. Within moments after the announcement people were on the website. Within 30 minutes after the show was over World Wide Village had received several pledges and several inquiries into taking mission trips to Haiti. We’re confident the interest, and donations will continue, especially since the show will be repeated many times on the Style Network (check listings for show times).
To paraphrase Giuliana Rancic from the show, “We’re really proud of Bill for what he and his friends did in building the home for Madame Josette and her family.” We are proud to be able to call Bill a friend of World Wide Village and look forward to helping him build more homes in Haiti.
If you would like to learn more about Bill, his show, and his connection to World Wide Village, here are a few links for you:
The May 15 episode of the “Guliana & Bill” Show on the Style Network will feature an inspiring story that was two years in the making. It’s the story of Bill Rancic and his friends traveling to Jacmel, Haiti to keep a promise he made after the earthquake to build a home for a displaced Haitian family.
The story started shortly after the January 2010 earthquake when Rancic, winner of the first season of “The Apprentice” went to Haiti with Sara Lee Executive Jon Harris to deliver several thousand pounds of disaster relief food. He was emotionally overwhelmed by what he saw and knew immediately that he wanted to do more to help those so tragically affected by the earthquake.
It was on that trip that he met Didi Pierre Louis and his family. Didi was in desperate need of medical attention so Rancic took him, and two other children, to Chicago to get the care they needed. Unfortunately Didi did not survive. When Rancic next traveled to Haiti he promised Madame Josette, Didi’s mother, that he would build the family a permanent home. They were living in a “tiny hut with a mud floor, no running water or bathroom or kitchen facilities,” Rancic said.
In May of 2011 Rancic went to Haiti again, this time as part of a group traveling with the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Starkey is one of WWV’s partners in Haiti and during the trip Rancic met Randy Mortensen, WWV President, and heard about the recently launched WWV Family Housing Fund and it’s commitment to build 500 homes for displaced families in Haiti. Shortly afterward Rancic arranged to fund and build a home with WWV in Jacmel, Haiti.
In February of this year Rancic and several of his friends traveled to Haiti to work with a Haitian construction team from World Wide Village, and Randy Mortensen, to build the home. His partners on the trip included Jon Harris from Sara Lee, Chicago-based building contractor Bert Connolly of Wescon Builders, (now a sponsor of the Plus One Home Project), and art collector Ari Goldman. It is the building of this home that is featured on the “Guliana & Bill” Show.
The experience of building the home so inspired Rancic that he promised to return to Haiti with World Wide Village to fund and build even more homes for some of the 500,000 people still living in tents or temporary structures as a result of the quake. “Bill and his friends left Haiti absolutely on fire with the idea of helping other families,” Mortensen said. “He saw first hand that two years after the earthquake Haiti is still hurting, both physically and spiritually.”
The homes will be part of a broad effort by WWV to build homes for quake victims. In 2011 WWV launched the “Family Housing Fund” with a large donation by an anonymous donor. “We’re hoping that Bill’s story will inspire people to support our efforts to build homes in Haiti. Unfortunately, too many people have already forgotten the tremendous need in Haiti.”
World Wide Village’s Haitian housing efforts were expanded just a couple of weeks ago with the launch of the “Plus One Home Project” that seeks pledges from builders, remodelers, suppliers, brokers and agents to help fund the construction of a home in Haiti for every home they build, remodel or sell in this country.