The first time I met Matala she was full of joy and smiles, but she was unable to tell me her name. I discovered she was over 40 years old but could not spell her own name.

Matala comes from a family of eight children four deaf and four hearing. When she was little her mother wanted to send her to the local school for the deaf, but she was afraid to go. One of her deaf brothers and her deaf sister wanted to attend school, so her mother allowed her to stay home while the others attended school.

Matala always has a smile on her face even while working. One time I was strolling through Lévèque, the deaf community in Haiti where Matala lives, and she was carrying A 5 gallon bucket of water on her head. As she was walking down the road she saw me up ahead. I pulled out my camera and asked her if I could take a picture, she thought I was going to videotape so she started dancing for me. This beautiful strong woman was not only able to carry a 5 gallon bucket of water on her head, but she was able to dance and laugh and never spell even one drop. I came to find out that was about her 15th trip of bringing water up the road that day as she was part of the construction crew and her job was to bring water to mix the cement.

When we decided to offer adult literacy classes for the deaf, she was one of the first ones to sign up. Her eyes lit up when she sat at the table with a pencil in her hand ready to write. She did not know how to write her name or any letters, but she was ready to learn. As the classes continued she practiced and practiced her letters. On my next visit to Haiti Matala was so proud to show me her notebook of all she had learned including how to spell her name.

As Matala learned more, she began to attend church faithfully. Although she was unable to read the complex French that her bible was written in, she still asked others sitting near her to help her to turn to the page the pastor was teaching on.

One of my favorite things to do with Matala is to take her photo with my phone, then show it to her. Every time she sees herself in the photo, she covers her mouth and giggles loudly. Sometimes she spins around in laughter!!

Because of her loving, infectious joy she was nicknamed “Mama Haiti”.


-Kathryn Montoya

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National Geographic – A Timeless Wonder!

A generous volunteer brought to Haiti a box of old National Geographics. As the mission team made stacks of items during a storage room clean out, the magazines were set aside. After being shoed away from the mess earlier, several girls of assorted ages crept back into the work area, making a beeline for the stack of bright yellow magazines. They were mesmerized by the photos. They did not need to understand the words on the page, nor did they need or want an American to explain things to them, they just wanted to look at the beautiful photographs for which National Geographic is known. Sometimes we try so hard to create the perfect learning tools for this language challenged group. We know visuals are the best, so it should be no surprise that these National Graphics were such a hit.

Kudos to Kristen Hoyt for loading her suitcase with the heavy, beautiful magazines.


-Margaret Spratlin




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Growing Like Weeds

Growing like weeds!

One year ago, we began marking the heights of our students on a wooden board. They stood tall and proud as their heights were measured last year, not really understanding why we were doing this. As we remeasured this year, they understood. They stretched as tall as they could and we all gasped as we saw how much they had grown.  The winner was six inches. Our babies are growing up! -Margaret Spratlin




Deep Sigh…

Deep sigh….. and praise be to God.  The first staff leadership training of Haiti Deaf Academy is complete!  It is hard to find words that adequately describe how the Lord blessed this training above what we had prayed for or envisioned!

The process of planning began with strong feelings of inadequacy and fervent prayer.  The concern was reaching the deaf with their heart language, and connecting at a deep level.  God’s first answer was to send us Becca from Hope Signs. Becca came with the experience, material and a tender prepared heart.  The staff were engaged at every moment literally. They were interactive and brought many real life issues to the table for discussion.

Life in Haiti is hard and living as a Deaf person in Haiti is even harder.  Turn our calendar back 100 years in America and you still won’t be to the everyday life of a Deaf Haitin.

Day one’s lesson was on Honesty from Ephesians 4:25. A crochet spider web was laid across the table and illustrations of getting stuck were used. People get stuck and then what? Very practical help from God’s word were given as examples and tools.

Day two the lesson plan covered self control.  Proverbs 29:11 and I Peter 5:8. For illustrations of what happens when one does not exercise self control a bottle of soda pop was shaken and discussed what would happen if the top blew off.  Everyone got the idea.  A stop light illustration was shared.  Green, one is moving forward. Yellow slow down and take caution, red, stop before you lose it. The visuals were clearly understood and all really felt they were given good tools to use.

Day three was courteous communication.  James 1:19 teaches us to listen, think more and talk less. Ephesians 4:31-32 teaches us to let go of….. instead be kind and courteous, tender hearted, forgiving one another… Illustrations were used to make us think of our way vs Gods way.  The old self…and the new self…. Again very practical applicable lessons that were grasp and very much appreciated.

While the beating of Voodoo drums and chanting carried on all day next door, prayer and the truth of God’s word were pushing back the darkness in the hearts  receiving it.  Haiti is definitely the devil’s playground. God doesn’t play He means business.   Hearts that were not long ago believing Jesus was only the God of Americans were now seeing firsthand that He is God in Haiti as well. .  They had been crying out to God for answers and help.  The struggles they face are real and so heavy that at times they feel like they can’t even pray and want to give up.   They see that God sent us  because He heard their prayers.  They had such grateful hearts that God would really love them this much to send them the very help they needed at the moment they needed it.

Emotions flood One’s soul just trying to take it all in. Already testimony is being given to the power of prayer.  Some of the life issues that were shared were immediately prayed for and miraculous answers are being witnessed.  All glory goes to God.  It is such a privilege to serve the one and only true God. -Darwin Covington




A Trip Update by Darwin Covington

Haiti Deaf Academy Board Member shares trip update, showing all of us how much one determined man can accomplish and how lucky we are to have him in a leadership role.

July 16, 2017

Hi All,

We returned last night from our trip to Haiti:

Here are a few highlights:

I went with a list and hoped that amidst the usual need to be flexible, I would be able to accomplish everything.

LIST: Take new pictures of all our children with a thank you to sponsors

Share with the children news and pictures from sponsors

Have children sponsored by DCH write letters

Meet with labor attorney in Port Au Prince

Follow up with DGI in regards to land dispute

Go to Bank and take care of some business

Look over facilities/generator etc.

Observe Interns in action

In home visit for Christelle

For those not familiar with the ministry, names mentioned in the journal:

Keith and Meredith Henderson, our wonderful new on site missionary couple

Marco- HDA accountant

Cathy Jones- HDA board member and Hearing Health expert for us

Nikki- Extraordinary HDA volunteer

Kathryn- HDA founder and Executive Director\

Deb- My wonderful wife

July 6th travel day

July 7th: Hugs at the gate!! It is always great to arrive at HDA and be met with all the hugs from the students and staff. The usual reminder that everyone remembers your sign name and shares theirs with you.  I watched the interns swing into action and begin working with the children. The theme this year is geography. They use a large flat map and then bend it into a circle to show the earth is round.  The staff and the children learned a lot.  I think I would have too had I sat with them 🙂

I discovered the electrical in the kitchen/dining area had never been corrected since wrongly installed. As God would have it, he had me take just the right electrical tools and supplies.  I had just the right things.  I took all the lights and outlets out and corrected the way things were wired and reassembled everything. I followed the wire back to the panel and corrected the way they had it hooked into the panel and then for the magical/scary moment I turned the breaker back on. NO SPARKS/FLASHES/TRIPPED BREAKERS! Always a good thing.  After turning on the light switch and testing all the outlets a celebration was in order!! I decided to hang a much needed fan also to move some air (it’s not air conditioning). It always pays to make the cooks happy if you know what I mean 🙂

July 8th: The plan was to treat the kids to a day at the beach. It takes a lot of planning to take all the kids and staff to the beach. Transportation, food prepared ahead of time, supervisors, etc. The staff gathered everything up and headed out with the kids, while a few of us stayed back at the HDA to take care of a few things.

A Rotary Club from Canada is giving us a grant for food storage.  They are providing funds for a refrigerator, freezer, solar panels, batteries, inverter and the labor to install everything. Keith and I met with Cathy to discuss details and make sure we can do everything on our end to make sure this is a success.  Keith and I climbed onto the roof and examined our current solar panels and discussed placement of the new. We now need to get performa’s from vendors and line up everything.  This will be a real blessing.  We will be building new shelves and getting clear food storage containers too. Progress!

Cathy’s Audiology team was at the home evaluating children and treating some of ours. Some parents traveled long distances to have their children tested, in hopes that we will accept them into our program. Children needing medicated drops, ear wax removed, etc. are tended to. The children of Haiti are so blessed to have this care. Deb & I then escorted the kids who had been held back for ear treatment to the beach to join the rest of the children. Seeing the staff stand guard in the water and watch over the kids is impressive.  Melanie is a real Momma bear and protects her cubs at all times!

The water was warm and fun was had by all.

July 9th: A Day of Rest. We waited for Patrick our Tap Tap driver (he had tire trouble) then went to Leveque for Worship with our Deaf children and the Deaf community. It was so good to see our Deaf brothers and sisters in Christ again… life is so hard in Haiti for these lovely people.

One of the Pastors is getting married on the 22nd! I wish I could be there for that after witnessing the excitement of another Haitian wedding, during which the wedding party actually danced down the aisle… so cool.

It was GREAT to see Sophonie (former HDA student) & Jacques Wilson (another of our pastors) and their new baby during this visit. Sophonie is back to work as a seamstress, a skill she learned while in vocational training with us, thanks to our donor’s support for our sewing program!

This was an extra hot day of no breeze. One of our Interns became overheated and we quickly worked to get her cooled down and back to our guest house. Everyone swings into action when something like this happens and we were all happy to see her feeling better.

July 10th: This was a long day.  Meredith, Marco and I headed to Port Au Prince. Our first stop was at a lawyer’s office where we followed up on some e-mail conversations about employment regulations.  We are making sure our staff contracts are compliant with Haitian law. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, finding a place in PAP is the first challenge and understanding Haitian labor law is quite another. The color gray pretty much describes much of it.

After the pursuit for legal advice, we were all famished so we stopped at a local restaurant and got a bite to eat before our second adventure of the day, which was going to the DGI (land boss) department in Haiti.  It is kind of like going to one of our government offices really. Kind of comical really. So upon arrival we walk through a crowd where there is a metal detector that you are funneled through (which doesn’t even work). Marco and Meredith are ahead of me and they were not even given a second look. The guard decided to have a little fun with me. He wanted to see my belt, and then my gun (which I did not have one). He wanted to look through my backpack… curious, I think! Finally, he decided a pat down was in order.  By this time Meredith discovered I was no longer following so she and Marco came back.  Marco (Haitian) asked him what he was doing.  His reply was comical. He said “Well, when I go to America they do this to me so I just wanted to do it to him”.  We all laughed, including him.

Success is defined slowly in Haiti so time will tell if our DGI visit there was successful.  Pray for God’s leading in this matter. We want to grow where the Lord plants us so if not this land then wherever He wants us.

While our day was spent in PAP, our team was busy at the house teaching, sorting, discovering and formulating a plan.

July 11th: A plan with excitement! Yesterday, Keith, Nikki and Deb discovered totes and suitcases full of clothes, shoes, underwear, etc., that have been donated. It was a sad moment but a teaching moment as well. Deb & I have discovered as Foster Parents the hoarder mentality that people in distressed times develop. Life in Haiti is extremely hard to say the least and as a result of this stress, many of them have this same mentality. So sad to see. The staff were gathered and the teaching began. It was explained to them that God was providing for these children and God’s well does not run dry!  When these supplies are gone God will supply more and more and more! Tears flow now as I think of the hearts of these well meaning but extremely poor people. God is good! Never doubt it! He will provide!

So an exciting plan was developed.  The children were first taken to their rooms where they looked through their clothes and decided which ones were in bad shape or too small. At the next stop, Nikki asked them if she could buy their old clothes from them with pretend money. She then asked if it was OK for us to sew them and pass them down to other kids.  I thought this was genius.

The teams then set up stations (tables) where the kids could come, answer geology questions and purchase new clothing/shoes with their new fake money.  This was teaching them geography and money management, too. They were so excited!

I spent the day videoing and picture taking and working on my list then lastly, I had to go to the bank.  I first was taken down the street where there was a whole in the wall business that took my photo for the bank documents. It is amazing to me that whatever you need in Haiti is just around some corner hidden is some shop. Crazy. Then Marco & I hopped on the back of a motorcycle taxi and raced to the bank.

July 12th:  This morning Deb & I were focused on finishing our picture taking and documentation for child sponsors. Another simple task which isn’t so simple sometimes but today… Success!

I helped kitchen staff prepare and feed snacks to the children. I love jumping in and serving along side the staff while joking around with them, too. It’s noon now and time for something my heart has been longing for… A home visit to one of our kids.  Christelle’s mom moved to Brazil and left her and her brother with an Aunt. Christelle wasn’t sent to summer school so she has been at home, pretty much in isolation.  She is a natural leader and I have always bonded with her.

So off we head. We turn off Hwy 1 onto what could hardly be considered a road. We wind around stopping to ask villagers where “BeBe” was, the somewhat derogatory term Haitians use for deaf. We park and walk between houses and winding through alleys. Tin hut against tin hut and cement houses mixed it. We are lead by a little child and stopped in front of a cement house.  We stopped and the child ran down an alley.  Soon Christelle came around the corner at the end of the alley, spotted us, threw open her arms and ran up the alley and into our arms.  We had a long embrace then sat down on the front step and spent a long time playing hide the rock and enjoying one another. She seemed so happy to see us. She has nobody in her village who can sign with her. We took some pictures and then had to depart. My heart was full.

LAST DAY ALREADY! I finished up shop talk with Kathryn, Marco, and the Henderson’s. Keith and I looked at our broken generator in hopes that we could perform magic. A funeral was held instead. It is definitely dead. Soon we hope to have a new one in its place.  I spent the remainder of the morning hanging with the kids and the staff and helping again serve snacks, etc.  Good-byes were easier this time knowing that I will be back again in October.

Off to the airport but God was not done yet.  Deb & I like to wear our Haiti Deaf Academy shirts on travel days.  There were two Deaf individuals who saw our shirts at the PAP airport and wanted to know more. We visited for a time. We were on the same flight to Atlanta. Samuel & Virginia were a delight. Samuel had a fast turn around in Atlanta to catch his next flight so this was our moment to visit in this chance meeting. Another lady saw our shirts and ask if we knew the Imslands.  “Why, yes” I said, “We were just at their house this morning!”  She was as well and had left a couple of hours before we arrived.

Another connection was made as we talked about ministries. God was not done yet! So we boarded our flight and headed home marveling at all God had allowed us to be a part of on this trip. When we landed in Atlanta who do you think was there to meet us?  Samuel had gotten on-line and changed his flight to a later flight and wanted to have dinner with us.  Customs was a breeze, the airport was like empty… We sailed through baggage pickup and rendezvous with Samuel for dinner.  Long story shortened… this is the beginning of something good and I can’t wait to see how Virginia & Samuel are apart of it.  They are real advocates for the Deaf as are we.  They long to see opportunities for the Deaf children of Haiti. Skills taught and real help given.  Noticing those who may have the ability to advance beyond the academic limitations of Haiti and empowering them.  Again, all I can say is God is Good.


Darwin Covington

Sponsorship Coordinator


Calling all teachers, leaders and everyone else!!!

Calling all teachers, leaders and others for Holiday Wreath Craft!

Allow us to teach your students, groups etc. about some wonderful deaf and hard of hearing children and help us raise funds for the Haiti Deaf Academy. We will also send you video greetings of our students and ask you to send some to us!

Here is the plan:Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 12.24.34 PM

September 2017– Schedule one of our US based Haiti Deaf Academy representatives to visit your class for an opportunity to learn about deafness and the lives of the Haitian kids, or receive a video if a representative is not available in your area.

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October 2017– Each participating class/group will purchase a wreath mold from any hobby store, along with 300 pins. Kids and interested faculty or group members will begin bringing in dollar bills to “pin” to the wreath.

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December 2017– Your wreath will hopefully be  full and your very special donation can be made to Haiti Deaf Academy operations fund.

For more information, please contact Margaret Spratlin.

Pictured are Atlanta third graders and their teacher displaying their full wreath!

Cake Anyone?

Working in the Titanyen/Cabaret area, we have noticed there is nowhere to purchase cakes, also, very few people own ovens and are unable to make their own. But, the locals do enjoy having cakes for special events, birthdays etc.

Martine, Ruth, Dacheca and Wislene have expressed an interest in learning how to bake cakes to sell to a local market to make them available to the local Haitian community. The girls had a great time measuring, mixing, baking and frosting. They started with an all chocolate cake then went on to a white cake with chocolate frosting. Are you getting hungry yet?? The last cake they made before I headed home, was a white cake with cream cheese frosting. I think I have gained 10 pounds on this trip just test tasting each cake as they practiced getting them just right and ready to sell.

The ladies have started by using mixes and canned frosting that teams have graciously brought from the US. We already have a sustainability plan in place with one of our long term missionaries, Jodie Fuller, who will come back to Haiti the summer of 2017 and teach the ladies (who hopefully are experts by then with the cake mixes) how to make cakes from scratch. We are excited to see this program grow and expand in the next few years as the community gets to taste their delightful treats!


Educated, Encouraged, Employed and Empowered


As is often the case when good things happen, many hands were involved a recent success story for the Haiti Deaf Academy (HDA). A church member in Texas, an adoption story in Illinois and a woodworking company in Haiti. What did they all have in common? A desire to help. What did they do? They walked the walk by calling, e-mailing, networking and pushing forward to connect people that would lead to a dream come true for four deaf Haitian young men.

img_1581The four in our story were involved in the HDA vocational training program, with two as carpentry instructors and two as their students. Through the various connections, this group (plus a few others) were invited to attend a two-week workshop offered by Maxima, an innovative woodworking company with a presence in Port-au-Prince. Maxima not only offers top quality carpentry, but they have a desire to truly help end the vicious cycle of poverty in Haiti by training and hiring unemployed Haitians.

At the end of the workshop, the Maxima management team was impressed with the deaf men and decided to fill a few job openings with deaf employees. With a sign language interpreter involved for the first few weeks or so, Maxima believed these men had not only a solid foundation of skills, but more importantly, the willingness to learn.

In October, Clotaire, Benedick,  Mirguerle and Geovanny, along with Kathryn Montoya, ourimg_1584 Executive Director, along as an interpreter, headed to PAP for their first ever job interviews. Making sure they would not be late, Clotaire and Benedick arrived an hour early. Such fine young men!

The interviews went well and Clotaire and Mirguerle were offered woodworking jobs, which will enable them to hone their skills, benefiting from the great training and top of the line materials and equipment used by Maxima. Geovanny and Benedick are waiting for some temporary construction jobs for the building of replacement housing after Hurricane Matthew. Hopefully, those jobs will lead to permanent employment.

All four know that this is an opportunity for them to prove that “Deaf can do” as they frequently say. They will be held accountable just like all of the other Maxima employees, arriving on time, being willing to learn, producing good products and working well with their fellow employees.

This is a fulfillment of a dream for the Deaf men, as well as for the Haiti Deaf Academy. With a mission to Educate, Encourage, Employ and Empower, these jobs are certainly a win for all. The Haiti Deaf Academy sends out a big thank you to Jason  and Daniel  with Maxima and to Brian, who’s tenacious networking made this success story a reality. And a HUGE thank you to Suzanne, Marcia and Darwin who provided the funding necessary for the community carpentry program that started this ball rolling. God’s hand is certainly in this work!

2016 Highlights


13892280_10155070931399128_1631423970310639362_nAn audiology team from Hear The World Foundation reassessed our students and updated their hearing aids as needed. A second team tested children who are applying for placement in our program. They also tested several newborns, toddlers, young children and adults at a “partner” clinic in a nearby town. This newborn testing was our first opportunity to initiate early detection. Very important for this country!


Sophonie, a graduate of Project Stitch, a program operated by Bernard Mevs Hospital in Port-au-Prince, was hired by Mission of Hope in their Three Chords factory, where she makes quality items and loves her job. Sophonie was our first success story. All three components of our mission statement were accomplished…. Sophonie was educated, encouraged, employed and empowered. God is good.

Three additional graduates of Project Stitch, Wislande, Martine and Bylanda, will continue sewing for Project Stitch, making money on each of the items they sell in the Bernard Mevs Gift Shop. We are hopeful this opportunity will provide the income these girls need to move out of our transition home and into the life of independence they are working towards.

maximaEight deaf students and adults attended a two-week training offered by Maxima, a carpentry business in Port-au-Prince. All passed with flying colors and Maxima has hired two of our deaf students as full time employees. This is a blessing for our ministry and a leap of faith for a company willing to hire Deaf for the first time. The Maxima leadership team is asking for deaf culture training for their supervisors and have truly blessed our community by showing confidence in our students.


Our grant request for the Deaf Pastor Training has been approved, which means our deaf pastors in training will be able to continue their classes for the next two years and receive their certification. They will be the first certified deaf pastors in Haiti! Thank you Hopewell United Methodist Church.

A grant proposal for a Haitian Sign Language and Interpreter training Project has been approved! This will bring jobs to many deaf adults, as well as an eventual standardized sign language for the country and more trained interpreters to help the Deaf integrate into their hearing world. More hurdles to cross first but we are well on our way to receiving this grant. Thank you Christian Blind Mission.

13892296_1805626329669586_1234989693379393354_nFrazer United Methodist Church, one of the community’s original church partners, visited
and bought a laptop for our pastors. We are blessed to have them assisting us. While visiting they had the honor to lead Mirlaine to the Lord!

Two interns taught summer school for us, assisting each child in the creation of an “About Me” book, teaching them information they did not know, such as their siblings’ names and where their homes were. The interns had a great experience and we learned a ton from them.

13892324_10154455121459312_8298008562582449151_nThe jewelry making ladies are creating wonderful necklaces, bracelets and earrings, which are selling on our website and in craft fares wherever we can find a market!

Our community sewing students just received and completed their first contract job to make uniforms for a program called Silent Blessings. This is a HUGE step in our sewing employment program and we are hopeful that more contracts will follow.


13690664_1803062449925974_7215888610679260009_nFive deaf adults from Leveque completed a cement block training program provided by Extollo International . Three were hired by Extollo and more may be in the future.

Community member, Josue, got a job as a teacher in San Raphael, in the northern part of Haiti.

Community member, Marc Arthur, is now teaching sign language and literacy to factory workers employed by various clothing factories in the industrial park near Port-au-Prince. His salary is covered by a grant provided by Share Hope, an organization providing support to factory workers in that area.

14600834_10153971790250662_7625361472634765219_nOur ministry survived Hurricane Matthew. Soggy but unscathed with all facilities in tact, the Haiti Deaf Academy was mighty fortunate that Matthew did not touch ground in our area. While our staff rallied and prepared well, fortunate to have advance notice, we learned much about emergency preparedness and have adjusted our emergency plans for the future,


A leadership training class was held for our administrative staff in October. Understanding each other’s roles and challenges will help them grow as a team, working together for the good of the children. Many great ideas surfaced as the group discussed the things our Board could do to help them in their jobs. Most are attainable and are in the works. More leadership training classes are scheduled for the future.

God has been faithful in so many things and we are grateful to Him, to you our supporters and to all the Haitian families who allow us to be a part of their lives.

Leg Braces for Handy

Leg Braces for Handy




Prayers were answered in August, 2016, for Handy, a precious six-year-old boy, a favorite of many because of his precocious nature and melt your heart smile. Handy came to the Haiti Deaf Academy in Fall of 2013 with a severe case of bowed legs. Because of his small size, his problem did not stop this energetic fellow and he ran and played with the other children without complaint.





After handy-bracesmany clinic visits since his arrival, he finally received braces that will help him, hopefully, avoid correct the deformity and avoid possible surgery as he grows taller. Handy is not too happy with his new braces, as they keep him off of his feet in the evenings and overnight. Not one easily sidelined, we have explained how important they will be for his future and he is trying to be as patient as a rambunctious little one can be. Please pray that Handy’s treatment will work quickly.  We can already see a difference!