Blanc: HTF Summer Intern Reflection 1
Walking back from Tetkole, the school program I’m serving at, I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Jacque who has been with me all week. A girl had called me a “blanc” or “white person” in Creole. And his response to her was “Are you talking to me?” So I asked him what he said and talked to him about whether or not it had a negative connotation towards me. Simply said, he told me that it’s just something they call white people, it’s not bad or anything.
But being a “blanc” does attract a lot of attention. Many people come up to me knowing that I’m likely American who has lots of money. It’s hard to tell them that I don’t have money when I really don’t and I have no goudes, or Hatian money. Pastor Rhonda and I have talked a lot about this. What we do at Tetkole and with the other Haitian Timoun Foundation is work with the people of Haiti. We focus on building relationships through grassroots organizations, “To create a future of hope, sustainability, and dignity for the children of Haiti.” That’s the HTF mission statement. We work with the people of Haiti to empower them to develop their natural and human resources. By doing this, we try to avoid first world paternalism by just giving them money and having them depend solely on that. We want to get to know them personally and work with them.
One of the many relationships I made was with this little girl. I saw her on the first day and I’m not sure whether she is a part of Tetkole or a neighbor who passed by. But when I first saw her she was really shy and gave me a look of sort of distrust. But she hung around, and when I started to play a little soccer with some of the kids, she was on my team. She seemed to warm up to me, when we scored we gave each other high fives. After the game was finished, I went to stand on the front porch. A couple of older boys going home from school yelled at me “Blanc!” and I didn’t really think much of it. Then, when I started walking back inside this little girl went running out and told them in Creole, “Silence!” The fact that in a way she stood up for me meant a lot. And I hope to see her again so that I can learn her name.
Happy Mother’s Day from HTF!
HTF is all about children and we work hard at helping create a future of hope, sustainability, and dignity for the children of Haiti. But we can’t replace the tireless work and love of mothers.
Fonkoze’s CLM program supports families led by women. With the help of caseworkers and their own incredible endurance, CLM mothers raise their families up from the lowest rung of poverty and into true life.
Mama Verbo (R) raised a strong family that is committed to raising up children and community. Verbo Jean-Julien founded our partner organization Tetkole, and his brother and sister, Magloire and Marie-Line also invest their lives in children through their work at Tetkole.
Verbo’s wife, Claudine, is a teacher at the school Verbo founded in his home town of La Montagne and helps each year at HTF’s summer camp.
Marika McRae is the executive director of our partner organization, PAZAPA. PAZAPA was founded by her mother, Jane McRae, who passed away in 2008.
Kids for Kids
April 14th the 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School class at Abiding Hope Lutheran Church in Littleton, CO made almost 40 hygiene kits for our summer camp, Fet Bondye Bo Lanme.
Supplies for the kits were donated from the 1st and 2nd grade families.
In addition, a local Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Bryan Savage with West Metro Pediatrics, donated over 350 toothbrushes, over 200 flossers, and over 30 toothpaste bottles.
This year the kids at Fet Bondye Bo Lanme will also receive their own water bottles so they will have two of the primary tools for fighting Cholera and other diseases—clean water and supplies to keep their hands clean.
Soon the kits being assembled above will be in the hands of some of the same kids below, from Fet Bondye Bo Lanme 2012!
Fitting with HTF’s vision that ALL may have life, Haitian kids will be encouraged and blessed by the health benefits of these hygiene kits and American kids will be encouraged, inspired, and motivated by the stories of their Haitian brothers and sisters that they may someday meet and literally walk with.
Meeting children like Josephine inspire youth like Danielle Gilbert. Tonight Danielle will be hosting a benefit for HTF and our summer camp in Jacmel, Fet Bondye Bo Lanme. Youth from Colorado, Georgia, and Nebraska will travel to Haiti June 29th - July 10th to put on, once again, the Best. Camp. Ever!
This is Josephine. She is 11 years old, and the smartest young lady I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She speaks three languages and loves to play jokes on people. Josephine also was abandoned in Haiti as a child because she has cerebral palsy. I had the pleasure of meeting Queen Josephine this summer in Fermathe, Haiti, she loves pretty things, like when we made paper flowers together and she put them in her hair, but most of all, she loves to smile and laugh. If Josephine can find a reason to smile, so can you. Remember what you have and what you have been blessed with, and remember to smile. :)
I’ll see you soon Queen Josephine.
Meet Alex, HTF Summer Intern 2013
Hello my name is Alex Henning. In mid-May I’ll be going to Haiti on a two month long internship with the Haitian Timoun Foundation (HTF). I’ve been down there twice before, once with a dental clinic from Sheridan (Lutheran Church in Lincoln, NE). The second time I went down with the UNL Lutheran Student Center to clear rubble after the earthquake. I’m currently a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. On my internship I’ll be working with an after school and summer program at Tetkole in Jacmel, Haiti. Tetkole is a place where street children of Jacmel are provided shelter, food and education after school. While helping at Tetkole I’ll also be creating and cleaning up biographies of the children at Tetkole for HTF. Close to the end of my time I’ll be helping set up for a VBS camp, called Fet Bondye, where a group from Sheridan will be coming to volunteer. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity that I have been given and ask for your prayers for my journey.
In the United States we recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. In Haiti there is no month or even day to recognize this serious issue, but HTF partners are addressing this issue daily in their work. Below— the story of Viergena and how Tetkole helped her escape living as a restavek. Tetkole has such a reputation that only a few months after opening their temporary shelter for displaced children, the local government contacted them for help. Beyond its commitment to help children escape dangerous situations, Tetkole invests in children for the long haul.
The Restavek situation is very common in Haiti. Many peasants who can’t afford to feed their kids send them to be restaveks or to live in orphanages. Some orphanages, like one in Leogane started by a group of pastors, need children and pay traffickers to bring them children.
Viergena Joseph is from Macary, a section of Marigot in Haiti’s Southeast region. The Haiti National Police, specifically the Brigade Protection des Mineurs (BPM), apprehended individuals at the bus station in Jacmel who were exchanging money for Viergena. After their hearing at the court in Jacmel, L’Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherche (IBESR) and the commissioner of the government entrusted Viergena to the Foundation TETKOLE POU YON DEMEN MIYO for temporary care. A few months later, under the authorization of Me Antoine Jean Fehaud, Deputy Commissioner of the government near the court of first instance of of Jacmel, the TETKOLE team reintegrated Viergena into her family in Macary on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. She is currently enrolled in a privated school in the area and F. Tetkole reaffirms its commitment to support Viergena Joseph until the age of 21 years.
Viergena and her father reunited in front of Tetkole’s day center
Viergena together again with her family at their home in Macary
3 years, 2 kids, 1 tent, and $500 in the bank!
A reflection from Greg Bennett, in Haiti with a group from Columbine High School this week:
Spent the day on the Central Plateau of Haiti and was changed forever! Met several women in our CLM program, including this one woman I want to share with you (trying to attach a picture but struggling with it for some reason)…my prayer is that she will inspire and haunt you as she has me. Let me paint the picture…after the earthquake she and her husband and two kids were living in a relative’s kitchen pantry closet…then she got a UN tent where they’ve been over the past 3 years…3 years in a tent with 2 kids, imagine that for 2 weekends!!…then she qualified for the CLM program 8 months ago and this little dynamo has turned her 2 commerce areas (pigs and flies (chickens or turkeys) into that plus more)…she is so proud, while i was there she even…pause for breaking down a bit, seriously….brought out her bank book to show me and her case worker that she’s saved $500…God I wanted to shove her in my backpack and bring the whole bunch home. What that drive and spirit would do with opportunity? Her only curse is she was born there and I was born in the states. I realized how greedy, and selfish I am…we all are. Ugh!!! This always happens here right?
I am writing this on the last night high above the city where 3 years we were here after the quake. I honestly don’t know how these people exist in this hot and dusty crazy place…but St. Joe’s goes to prove…with God, ALL things are possible.