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!

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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.    margaret@haitideafacademy.com

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!

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Educated, Encouraged, Employed and Empowered

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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

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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!
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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

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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!

 

Haiti Deaf Academy Staff Appreciation

On Friday, June 17th, pots were put away, laundry duties were stopped, brooms were abandoned as the staff was summoned for a very special occasion. Throughout the year, employees of the Haiti Deaf Academy work tirelessly to serve the students. This was a day for them to be recognized for all of their efforts.

With students raging from age 4-22, the demands of the staff vary from helping them brush their teeth and dress to teaching the art of sharing when toys are limited (better defined as refereeing at times!) to the braiding of hair. Over 60 people are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and school uniforms are washed and pressed for each school day. The chores never stop and our staff never stops. Their patience and love are limitless.

In a well deserved moment of glory, each staff member was called up to receive a framed certificate of appreciation saying:

Merci pour tout ce que vous faites. Nous vous apprécions et votre travail acharné que vous faites pour les enfants de KTSA!

Que Dieu vous bénisse!

Translated… Thank you for all you do. We appreciate the work you do for the children of the Haiti Deaf Children’s Home. God bless you!

staff-appreciationOn hand to present each certificate was the Haiti Deaf Academy Haitian Board Chair, Raymond Pierre Frantz, along with Executive Director, Kathryn Montoya.  We were fortunate to have Raymond available to help recognize these hard workers and hope they realize how much we love and appreciate them. A well deserved time in the spotlight for our devoted staff !

 

 

 

Three day Funeral for Three Ladies

 

funeral-3Sounds like the name of a movie, but this is real life in Haiti. After the tragic loss of three deaf ladies in our community, we were finally able to hold their funeral June 11, 2016, three months after their murders.

funeral-5The funeral was a 3-day event which honored the ladies so beautifully. On Thursday June 9th, a march was held to honor the victims in the place where their bodies were found. Participants marched from the center of the square in Cabaret, down National Route 1 about 2 miles to the site on the side of the road where Sophonie, Vanessa and Monique were found. The march was mostly silent as over 150 deaf and hearing people walked carrying signs, candles and flowers to leave at the site.

Family and friends walked, talked and grieved together during the march. We were certainly a site for the hundreds of onlookers as we stopped traffic with our police escort. Hands were flying all over the place as the deaf talked with one another. Deaf friends from all over Haiti came to show their support. funeral-6

Our students were in uniform to represent our school. The closer we got to the site, the more silent the crowd became. Deaf and hearing stopped chatting and hearts grew heavier. When we arrived we sang a few songs in sign and voice. A few people spoke and prayed and the flowers and candles were laid in the place where their bodies had last laid.

 

Everyone grieves differently and in Haiti many grieve with loud crying and convulsions. It funeral-4was a little shocking for my daughter Emily to see, but she wanted to be a part of this experience. She knew the ladies who died and she wanted to give them the respect of attending the march. The day was hot and the tears did nothing to cool the faces of those in mourning. Ice cold water was passed out to all the walkers to make sure no one became over-heated.

Once everyone said their goodbyes, people began to depart one by one and in small groups, until the crowd had dissipated. The grief, hot sun, long walk and overwhelming experience left us all wiped out. The Lord gave us enough strength to get through the day, but once that was over we needed to rest. But rest was not an option, we had to plan for the wake and funeral that would occur in the next two days.

The families of the three ladies came to the Haiti Deaf Academy in Cabaret and we had a meeting to plan the wakes and the funeral. It was decided there would be one funeral for all three ladies and all three would be laid to rest in the same grave. In Haiti, graves are typically above ground in a cement structure. One family already had one of these and allowed all three women to be buried there.

funeral-7There were to be four wakes, one for each family and one for the deaf community in Leveque. Bob, our full-time missionary and I helped plan the wake for Leveque. Several cooks volunteered and food was prepared for all. Lighting for the evening was a necessity, as the deaf cannot communicate in the dark. T-shirts were made with the I-Love-You sign on the front and “We Will Never Forget You, Sophonie, Vanessa and Monique” printed on the back in Creole. These were passed out for participants to wear for the funeral the next day. People told stories and remembered the ladies with great fondness.

 

I shared about how fun it was to have Monique show our teams how she made popcorn over the coal stove, and even though she could not hear the popping, she knew exactly when the popcorn was ready without looking! Vanessa and Sophonie were both a part of our sewing and jewelry making classes on Saturdays. I remember how they loved to crochet and embroider and now I treasure even more some of the items they made for me in the past.

funeral-9Early the next morning we had buses ready to take the Leveque residents and our older students and staff to the funeral. Three buses were packed full and everyone was wearing the matching T-shirts. When we arrived at the church, people turned and looked at our huge group as we slowly made our way in and found our seats.

The three caskets were covered in flowers at the front of the church. When I saw them, I couldn’t hold back the tears. Senseless killing always makes me angry, but when it is three dear people that I know, it hurts so much more.

 

The funeral was interpreted by several interpreters so that the Deaf who were seated in various parts of the church could see. A beautiful song was signed by a deaf group. Jonas Cadet and Mr. Pean gave touching speeches and Mr. Pean’s wife did a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria. It was a beautiful service.

funeral-1Once the funeral was over, we all made our way to the cemetery. The procession of cars, buses and walkers was very long. Several men, deaf and hearing, worked together to stop traffic to allow the procession to move forward.  When we arrived at the cemetery, it was blazing hot, but that didn’t stop the mourners from going through the maze of graves until we found the one open and waiting to be the final resting place for our three friends.

funeral-2Each casket was carried to the tomb, put inside and then cemented closed. Watching this happen first-hand gave me a glimpse of what it was like for Mary and the other followers of Jesus when His tomb was closed. The cement “door” was never to be opened again. It was final, it was finished, closed, never to be opened again. I thank God that was not the case for Christ. Three days after being put in the tomb, He burst out of it conquering death and giving eternal life to any who will accept His invitation. With this hope, we look forward to seeing Monique, Vanessa and Sophonie in heaven one day.

Matthew Aftermath – Deaf Helping Deaf

Matthew Aftermath – Deaf Helping Deaf
October 12, 2016
There was a great sense of “Deaf helping Deaf” as Matthew approached and fortunately spared most of the deaf community in Cabaret and Leveque. They all truly came together as they worked to protect each other from the storm they were told about but could not hear. We can only imagine how scary that must have been.
We arrived at the Children’s Home in Cabaret yesterday to find our kids in their normal happy state, jumping around with joy as they always do when their American friends arrive for a visit. Sounds like the second floor slumber party for a few nights was an adventure and they came together as a staff and students to pray for their own safety, as well as the safety of Haitians in the southern part of the country who did not fare so well.

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In Leveque, where many home gardens were demolished, the pastors and community leaders used emergency relief funds to provide rice and beans to the elderly and mothers with small children who were in the greatest need. Most slept in the cinder block school, where despite their worries, the smile in this photo proves that they felt safe and cared for.

14618876 1706974336288466 456195347 oThere are so many blessing in spite of Matthew’s destruction. We had ways to communicate with our school staff and community members, making sure they knew how to prepare. Warnings like this are unusual for them so we were fortunate that both the deaf community and our children had a safe place to wait out the hurricane. We all learned from the experience and praise God that our little community was spared.
Please join us in continuing to pray for the Haitian families who lost everything. Sadly, that is the reality for many on the hardest hit southern coast. Our hearts go out to them.

A Match Made in Haiti!

Sophonie and Jacques Wilson Tie the Knotwedding-4

I can still remember the day that Jacques Wilson, one of our pastors-in-training, told me that he was falling for Sophonie, one of the older girls living at the Haiti Deaf Academy. I thought his crush on her was sweet, but wasn’t sure if the feeling was mutual. In just a few days, they both sat down with me to tell me they were actually falling in love. Out of respect for his position as a pastor figure, they wanted to make sure the leadership of our ministry was supportive of their relationship. Being the romantic type, I gave them my blessing and was excited to watch this love story in the making.

wedding-3Serious about his studies, Jacques Wilson was learning the basic teachings of Jesus Christ. This was a great chance for me to teach them both about abstinence, God’s plan for marriage and relationships and being a role model for the other Deaf children and adults in our community. They both agreed with what God wanted for them and were willing to humbly submit to Him. They dated over the next two years and with permission from their parents, chose a date for their wedding and began to save.

They were both creative in earning and saving money so they could have a proper Haitian wedding. In Haiti, it is tradition to have a very formal wedding with all the trimmings. This is not always possible as most Haitians have very low incomes. Jacques Wilson never let that stop him. He worked two jobs and saved every penny he could. About eight months before the wedding, he took his fiancé to a carpenter to order the furniture they needed so he could begin paying on it.

wedding-6The next step was to have the parents meet to make sure they were all in agreement regarding the couple’s decision to marry. This is also a required custom in Haiti. Jacques Wilson and Sophonie used an interpreter to call their parents and arrange the meeting. They decided to talk with her parents in Mirabalais, where Sophonie is from, and where they wanted the wedding to take place. The meeting went better than they could imagine and the wedding was a go!

On June 25, 2016, deaf and hearing people from all over Haiti, and a few from the US, came to join Sophonie and Jacques Wilson as they exchanged their vows. Pastor Yves Prophet presided over the wedding and James Hadere interpreted. A wedding ceremony in sign language is a beautiful sight.

wedding-2Jacques Wilson looked handsome in his suit and was so proud to be able to stand there with his best man, Benoit (another one of our pastors in training) and his good friend William. It was a long wait for the bride, but she finally made it, beaming with excitement and beauty and stunning in her shiny white wedding dress. Her maids were all dressed in formal attire and along with the groomsmen did the ritual Haitian “dance” as they walked down the aisle to prepare for the bride. When it was time for Sophonie to enter, everyone in the room held their breath (and their cameras) as she elegantly glided towards her love.

After a short sermon, exchanging of rings and vows and then a blessing by three Americans (including me), they were married. Then the festivities began. The couple went to the reception hall where they posed for photos, ate a traditional Haitian meal of rice, beans and chicken and of course, cake. The room was full as people came to eat and congratulate them. Guests spilled out into the yard and found spots of shade to eat and discuss the mornings events.

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After the honeymoon, I had the privilege of visiting the happy couple in their new home, Jacques Wilson’s house in Leveque. He shared with me that a team came to paint the inside for him and through a sign language and a creole interpreter he found out that the man who was part of the team was also from the church who was sponsoring him to attend his formal pastor training. Coincidence? No way, God knew that team would be there and that the newlyweds wanted a fresh paint as they began their lives together. God orchestrated the team’s visit, the wedding date and the honeymoon so that all things would come together in His perfect timing.

We felt blessed to be able to be a part of this big event. Our prayer is that our students will follow Sophanie and Jacques Wilson’s wonderful example of seeking God’s wisdom first in their lives. What a great testimony they are to a healthy, Godly relationship.

 

Project Love Visits Haiti Deaf Academy

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The Haiti Deaf Academy girls were excited about the recent visit of Amy Crouse, founder of Project Love. Amy and her business partner, Liz Mathes, have made a huge impact on our students. If you have not heard about Project Love, brace yourself for an inspiring story. These two young women from Atlanta, Georgia, with busy careers, felt called to do something bigger with their lives. While working full time, in spare moments, they managed to create and launch a sleepwear line with a twist. Designed for women who want to treat themselves to beautiful gowns, rompers and pajamas at an affordable price, these nighties are more than just pretty pieces of fabric.

pl-image-2With each purchase, a percentage of the proceeds will go to projects helping women in third world countries. The Haiti Deaf Academy has already been selected as one of the first organizations to receive the generous sharing of profits. Each garment is named after one of the graduating students in the program. They are the softest nightclothes you will find, with beautiful fabrics and very comfy designs.

Using the Project Love funding, twelve young deaf women who are students of the Haiti Deaf Academy are now participating in a tutoring program that provides 20 extra hours of schooling and vocational training for them each week. Traditionally, children in Haiti attend school half day, which for these girls is in the afternoons, leaving their mornings open for the extra tutoring.

With Project Love funding, they now have a teacher and computer tutor working with pl-image-4them Monday through Friday mornings, supplementing the education they are receiving in their regular school. Due to limited resources, Haitian education for the deaf is not on par with that of hearing students. Project Love has invested in these young girls with a goal of bringing their level of education up, empowering them and bringing them one step closer to being job ready and realizing their dreams for a future of independence.

In addition, the older girls are in a sewing vocational training program supported by Project Love and will soon “graduate” to live in transitional housing while earning an income from their new sewing skills. Items they sell are currently available at http://store.haitideafacademy.com/

The Project Love sleepwear line launched in the United States in the spring of 2015 and customers are thrilled with their new sleepwear and the stories of our Project Love students they receive with each purchase. Please support Project Love and the Haiti Deaf Academy. Buy jammies! Joinprojectlove.com

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