News & Updates from Have Faith Haiti

Michigan Colleges Alliance Presents Mitch Albom & Friends 3.0 // Update

Michigan Colleges Alliance Presents Mitch Albom & Friends 3.0 // Update

Please note the new details for this year’s fundraiser, which is moving from the Great Lakes Center for the Performing Arts to Madonna University in Livonia, MI, where some of our children currently attend or will be starting in the fall! Join us in-person if you can, or online if you can’t, but most importantly, please consider lending your support!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

In person:  Madonna University Welcome Center (36700 Schoolcraft Road, Livonia, MI 48150)

Or join virtually via livestream!

Join us via livestream or in-person for the 3rd annual Mitch Albom and Friends – an incredible night of stories, laughter, music, and fun, live from Madonna University’s spectacular new Welcome Center.  Mitch has rounded up a few of his entertaining pals to join in the festivities virtually – including Golden Globe-winning actress Kate Hudson, Emmy-winning actor Bradley Whitford, and NFL Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.  On-stage and in-person, we’ll hear from local sports anchor Bernie Smilovitz and NFL Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, Sr., as well as Madonna University students from the Have Faith Haiti Mission.  It’s all for a great cause as we raise money for the Have Faith Haiti Mission college scholarship fund in partnership with Michigan Colleges Alliance.

We hope you will join us on August 19.  To learn more and to purchase tickets or register for the livestream, visit:

A Young Writers’ Retreat

A Young Writers’ Retreat

Esther, Shamaika, Angeline, Jimmyna, and Stephania have been spending a lot of their free time recently writing short stories and even designing pictures for each page. They asked one of their teachers, Danielle, to help them edit, and soon they formed their own little writers’ “retreat.” Over two days, our budding novelists talked about parts of speech – like nouns, verbs, and adjectives – and worked on story maps. Story maps take a graphic approach to building out the elements of a story or book, “mapping” out the beginning, middle, and end of a story. 

The young writers spun tales about friends at the beach and their own activities.

Learning the Art of Handicraft

Learning the Art of Handicraft

Two new wonderful volunteer additions at our school are teaching the joy — and the skills — of the craft maker.

Amy and Bob Thibodeau joined the Have Faith Haiti Mission team from Canada to lead courses in making and repairing things. Called WWW: Wood, Wiring and Water, the Thibodeaus are leading four different bi-weekly classes of varying age and skill to help students learn woodworking, electrical wiring and plumbing.

Currently focusing on woodworking, students have already completed two projects — shower hook shelving and a picnic table. The goal is to build five small tables for younger children, and possibly donate one of them to a neighboring orphanage or location in need of them.

Additional activities also include sewing, and some of our teen girls have made small drawstring knapsacks for themselves and others at the Mission.

Their developing skills – and growing love of the craft – are already so impressive, we may have some master craftspeople and artisans in the making!

Delayed Until the Fall, This Year’s Spelling Bee is As Ambitious As Ever!

Delayed Until the Fall, This Year’s Spelling Bee is As Ambitious As Ever!

This year, our annual Spelling Bee was held in September. Although it’s usually a late spring event, school director Cara Nesser wasn’t able to visit because of COVID-19 restrictions. Held just before the start of our new fall term, the spelling bee thus came with an extra challenge: the students had to remember vocabulary words from last year, and study them again. 

For the first time, the spelling bee also coincided with a visit from Mitch and Janine Albom, both of whom agreed that even they weren’t sure how to spell some of the words!

Despite her rigorous attempts, Ms. Cara could not whittle down any class to just one winner even with words like crustacean, Platyhelminthes, Cnidarian, catalyst, ecclesiastical and the all time most dreaded word: Deoxyribonucleic acid  (the scientific name of DNA, in case you folks at home didn’t know!)  Even Mitch was sweating out this one!

Our oldest group, Secondary 3, not only had to spell the words, but define their words as well. If there was any question as to the validity of the answers, Mitch served as the “panel of judges” to determine if the answer qualified. He looked up dictionary definitions online, in real time, and fortunately, with one exception, all the answers were right.  All of the words we use in our Spelling Bees are taken from actual classwork—no random words are added to the Bee.

It was an exciting Spelling Bee, followed by our annual “school opening” ice cream party, and this year, a special concert presented by our two in- house rock bands! 

Now we are busy in school, learning MORE words for next year…

Check out the winners gallery!

> Read an important update from school director Cara Nesser on the impact of COVID-19 on the Mission’s school, and the resilience of our teachers and students!

Bonus video – do you know the helping verbs?

What Oscars? We’ve Got Our Own Film Festival

What Oscars? We’ve Got Our Own Film Festival

An annual highlight of the school year, our students are treated to a documentary film festival celebrating the work of independent storytellers who provide educational, and thrilling, perspectives to explore. Designed by school director Cara Nesser, the festival takes place at the start of winter term and is guided by different thematic lessons.

After each film, students have discussions, and then participate in activities that relate to the film, adapted for each grade level. High school students, for example, write opinion essays and learn more about documentary filmmaking. Just like at Sundance, ballots are distributed for students and teachers to vote on a scale of 1 – 4. At the end of the week, the scores are tallied, and the movie with the most 4s wins “Best of the Fest!”

Monday, February 3

Film: Spellbound (2002)

Eight youthful competitors, sponsored by their hometown newspapers, travel with their families to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Now in the national spotlight and under heavy pressure to perform from parents, teachers and their audience, the children struggle to advance toward the championship — and its accompanying scholarships and cash prizes — while approaching competitive spelling with the focus and intensity of Olympic athletes.

Shown to: Primary 1 – 4, Collége 2, Secondary 1 & 2
Theme: Putting Yourself Out There & The Rewards of Hard Work
Notes: We so love our English and French spelling bees, and this showcases real diversity in the students’ backgrounds.

Tuesday, February 4

Film: Apollo 11 (2019)

Never-before-seen footage and audio recordings take you straight into the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission as astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins embark on a historic trip to the moon.

Shown to: Primary 2 – 4, Collége 2, Secondary 1 & 2
Theme: Imagine it and make it real
Notes: A Sundance award-winner, it took 6 years to make and is a compilation of footage shot back in the day of the entire Apollo mission from start (idea) to finish (bring hime the astronauts from the moon). The footage was in archives at NASA since the 1960s. Watching it is like watching the mission come together in real-time.

Film: A Reindeer’s Journey (2019)

Ailo, a newborn reindeer, embarks on an incredible odyssey with the help of his mother.

Shown to: Kindergarten, Pre-Primary 1 & 2, Primary 1

Theme: Survival and courage
Notes: For the younger students who haven’t learned about space yet.

Film: A Reindeer’s Journey (2019)

Ailo, a newborn reindeer, embarks on an incredible odyssey with the help of his mother.

Shown to: Kindergarten, Pre-Primary 1 & 2, Primary 1

Theme: Survival and courage
Notes: For the younger students who haven’t learned about space yet.

Wednesday, February 5

Film: 1st Position (2011)

Six young ballet students, all from different backgrounds, prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, a competition in which dance schools and companies from around the world scout for new talent.

Shown to: All classes except pre-school

Theme: Working for your dream; Endurance

Thursday, February 6

Film: Inventing Tomorrow (2018)

Passionate teenage innovators from around the world create cutting-edge solutions to confront environmental threats.

Shown to: Primary 1 – 4, Collége 2, Secondary 1 & 2

Theme: A universal look at using science to solves problems
Notes: It is a wonderful and inspiring film, especially for our kids who love science. Several of the kids featured are from third world countries.

Friday, February 7

Film: The Biggest Little Farm (2018)

A couple are followed through their successes and failures as they work to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles. Over the years, the desolate they purchase begins to thrive and its transformed.

Shown to: Primary 1 – 4, Collége 2, Secondary 1 & 2
Theme: Embrace the unknown/cope with problems
Notes: A model for sustainable agriculture

Film: The Elephant Queen (2019)

Athena is a mother who will do everything in her power to protect her herd when they are forced to leave their waterhole. This epic journey, narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, takes audiences across the African savannah, and into the heart of an elephant family. A tale of love, loss and coming home.

Shown to: All classes except pre-school
Theme: What makes a leader?

Remembering Haiti’s Devastating Earthquake, 10 Years Later

Remembering Haiti’s Devastating Earthquake, 10 Years Later

As the calendar marked the decade since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake, we remember the day by giving voice to the memories of the children at Have Faith Haiti who have never forgotten. You can watch the short video below.

Help is needed more now than at any time since the earthquake itself. We have the luxury of forgetting. Haiti and its children do not. Hear the stories from our kids at Have Faith Haiti Mission

Posted by Mitch Albom on Sunday, January 12, 2020

Mitch Albom also brought attention to the attention that must still be paid with an editorial in the Los Angeles Times:

Opinion: Helping one child at a time in Haiti 10 years after the devastation

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — It’s been 10 years since Haiti suffered the magnitude 7.0 quake that killed over 300,000 of its people and left more than a million displaced. The scale of the destruction left the Haitian economy, its government and daily life indelibly changed.

January marks two important days for our family at the mission. On the 9th, just a few days before the earthquake, is Chika’s birthday. She would have been 10 this year. Mitch wrote about the bittersweet remembrance as well, in the Detroit Free Press.

Chika’s birthday bittersweet, 10 years after Haiti earthquake

How do you celebrate a missing loved one’s birthday? How do you mark a date that used to be so happy and now is fraught with sadness and nostalgia? I know so many people who have lost family members, a byproduct of getting older myself, and when their birthdays come around they are filled with ennui. Some host commemorative parties. Some post old photos. Some visit cemeteries. Some just want to be left alone, to think about the years that might have been.

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