HELO Orphanage in Haiti

Celebrating Haiti

A team of fourteen traveled to Haiti on December 26, 2012 to share in the celebrations of Christmas, New Year’s and Haiti Independence Day.  The team came together from three states: Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, prepared with different activities celebrating Haitian culture, teaching both team members and children about the richness of Haiti in celebration of the January 1st holiday. We learned about painter Alexandre Gregoire and evenrecreated one of his paintings in a color-by-number! The homes were soon decorated with the beautiful artwork!

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We also learned the history of the Haitian National Anthem and the children delighted us by proudly standing and singing it as their flag was proudly displayed.  The children also colored flags to wave and display during their “mock Olympics” as they learned about Haitian athletes who competed in the 2012 Olympics.  They were taught the triple jump, relay race, and other track and field events, which they practiced for a few days before the big competition.  Shouts of glee could be heard near and far, flags waved, and medals won!

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The team also visited the beautiful Botanical Gardens of les Cayes, our guide showed us many varieties of trees, flowers, and cacti -- a glimpse into the beauty of this magnificient island.

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We rented a bus and took all 50 children, house parents and staff to the beautiful Gelee Beach for a day of fun in the sun and sea.  We especially enjoyed the newly planted trees, which provided very nice shade for our picnic lunch!

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On January 1st, we all celebrated with singing, delicious cake, soda, and goodie bags!  Great fun was had by young and old!

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Thanks to a great team for sharing your time, your love, and your talents with the children of HELO!

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Front:  Allison Mead, Mary Beth Saso, Megan Montgomery, Sara & Elisabeth Kennedy

Back: Mariel Yagsizian, Dana Volk, Jesse Huhn, Diane Volk, Sarah Carpenter, Amy Huhn, Troy McNamara, Charlie Field and Adrianna Rodriguez

An Answered Prayer

I cried tears of gratitude and joy, I have no words to express my gratitude to Aqua Sun (www.aqua-sun-intl.com), the team from St. Mary's College (www.stmarys-ca.edu), and everyone who had a part in this phenomenal donation! No more cholera, no more water-borne illnesses at HELO! Praise God!

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God Smiled and Laughed as Divine Intentions Met

They say, “if you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans.”  God did a lot of laughing during our week in Les Cayes and with the energetic youngsters at HELO.  Our team was charged with the delightful task of teaching embroidery, which we expanded to include counted cross-stitch as well.  Ingrid Stock, Sue Barker and Shirley Anderson came prepared with practice samples and canvas for bookmarks, plus larger projects - towels and aprons.  In addition to miles of embroidery floss, our traveling dental hygienist came with plenty of dental floss, tooth brushes and paste.  Cheryl Remsbecker was the official tooth and gum evaluator.  As filler activities, we had soccer balls, jump ropes and, a Janet Lewis idea,  any number of fabric markers to decorate T-shirts carefully counted and sized for each child.  These were our big and little goals and we figured God was mighty pleased.

God laughed.  The children were beginning school during our week with them.  They were flying high! We discovered the sewing3 energy level of our children and recognized ours to be somewhat less.  Organization was paramount and that included timing.  Isn’t “timing everything?”  God taught us first to appreciate the Caribbean clock.  We slowed down.  We did teach a bit of embroidery…like dangling a carrot, we enticed a few of the older girls and some boys.  (We were equipped with a photo of Rosie Greer with his needlepoint projects surrounding him…an encouragement to the boys.)

God smiled as our team learned came to love kids who crawled all over us or sat quietly to listen to a story.  As usual, new friends were a welcome fascination and long-time buddy Sara a major source of joy.  God smiled even more broadly as the tiny daughter of a woman working at Home One, terribly frightened of blan, was pictured by mid-week, betzaida_kiss sharing a pucker and then a kiss with Kristin Casey.  The photographs of this exchange bring happy tears.

God smiled as our dental hygienist dropped thoughts of caring for 50 mouths of teeth and took over the care of one little boy.  Having a son with autism, she recognized signs in Abraham that alarmed her.  Incidents that houseparents, M/M Vilnor, described led Cheryl Remsbecker to say that she thought the boy was having seizures and could benefit from medication.  Arrangements were made and Cheryl accompanied Madame Vilnor to the pediatrician to abraham__Cheryl explain her suspicions to the physician.  The result was a diagnosis of epilepsy and dispensing of medications to help Abraham live safely.  Other issues were raised and are being addressed thanks to discarding original plans and dealing with the need at hand.

Indeed, God’s hand guided us through our week, laughing away our plans and smiling as more Divine intentions were met!

Shirley Anderson, 10/25/12

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Rear:  Cheryl Remsbecker & Sue Barker; Middle: Ingrid Stock, Sara Kennedy, Elisabeth Kennedy,Shirley Anderson; Front: Kristin Casey and Janet Lewis

Computers for HELO

Thanks to a wonderful grant from the Orphaned Starfish Foundation (www.orphanedstarfish.org), HELO's September team carried laptops for HELO’s school.  With the assistance of Paulo Beaucejour, HELO’s new computer center was set up for the new school year.

Excited children assisted, carrying chairs on their heads, and eagerly waiting to see the computers in their school. chair A carpenter was hired to build a counter and cabinet to accomodate the ten new laptops, and the computer center was opened by week's end. 

Pictured below, the children paint a banner to express their gratitude.  Everyone at HELO lifts a huge THANK YOU to Orphaned Starfish for their generosity!!

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Paulo has started classes on keyboard/typing.  Once the children are familiar and comfortable with the computers, additional computer and English classes will be offered.

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We hope to have internet at the school soon and look forward to the tremendous learning potential it will bring to the children and students at HELO.

We sincerely thank Andrew Stein and everyone at Orphaned Starfish, Allison Mead, and everyone on the September team for making the computer center a reality.  Bondye bon!  God is good!

Sewing, Seeds, Sun & Fun!

A team of eight traveled to Haiti on September 29, 2012 to teach embroidery to the children of HELO. This small team came together from three states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. The team prepared different arts and craft activities for the children, from embroidery to cross necklaces, and even brought seeds for planting.

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Elisabeth & Sara Kennedy, Shirley Anderson, Cheryl Remsbecer,

Kristin Casey, Ingrid Stock, Janet Lewis and Sue Barker

Girls and boys alike enjoyed Shirley’s embroidery lessons and carefully stitched pre-printed patterns of cars, soccer balls or little animals. Once basic stitches are learned, the children will continue to sharpen their skills with pre-printed towels and aprons to embroider.

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Our wonderful translator, Guerson, shared his passion for plants and gardening as each child planted seeds in a plastic cup. Guerson showed them how to gently water the seeds without drowning the plant, and later a parade of children carried their cups on their heads, following Pastor Vilnor to the garden where their treasures will later be planted.

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The children also delighted in painting t-shirts and bandanas, again showing off their creativity!

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We rented a bus and took all 50 children, house parents, staff, and teachers to the beautiful Bamboola Beach for a day of fun and laughter in the sun and sea!

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