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5 Lessons from Our Haitian Garden

5 Lessons from Our Haitian Garden

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”

Those wise words from gardening expert Janet Kilburn Phillips are fitting as we are proud to share updates from our vegetable garden. Just look at beaming Widley and his recent spring harvest.

The vegetable garden at Have Faith Haiti grows lettuce, basil, cilantro, aloe, carrots, lettuce, onions, beans, peppers and zucchini.

Miss Gina and the kids built the garden beds together, marking the first gardening project at the Mission. While students including Enolyka, Cinlove, Gina, Josue, JU, Esterline, and Lengee are in the rotation to maintain a garden bed, Louvenson and Widley have particularly taken to tending the garden and have insisted on taking responsibility for a garden bed each.

It’s been a long road of patience, and learning from mistakes. With trial and error, and with each hurdle, the gardening team has learned and gotten smarter.


Lesson #1: Nutrients are Important

The beds were first installed in the fall of 2016. In school, the kids were also learning about the parts of plants and monitoring the plant growth helped our studies. But nothing sprouted at first! The garden needed composted soil to help the seeds sprout and thrive. The organic matter in composted soil releases vital nutrients into the soil and helps build the right soil consistency for air, water, and energy to pass through.

Lesson #2: Provide Cover

When the seeds finally did sprout, they were eaten by rats! An enclosure was built to keep away the rodents, and keep all planting strictly within where it’s best protected from the elements. With such a severe climate, the garden must be watered twice a day from the reservoir, filled weekly with purchased water. (There is no water/sewage system in Haiti). They will soon be collecting natural rain fall to make the garden even more self-sustainable.



Lesson #3: Get Immunized

After conquering the issues of nutritious soil and rodent infestations, the plants would grow but develop diseases due to small pests. Natural pesticides helped reduce the incidence of leaf miners, which caused a white fungus to grow. Lettuce master Widley explained his process for quality control:

Lesson #4: You Need Room to Grow

Carrots were the first to sprout, but the soil wasn’t deep enough, so they were only an inch or two in length. They also learned the hard way that the plantings were overcrowded, which also stunted growth. After adding more soil and spreading out the seeds and learning about crop rotation, the vegetables were able to thrive to fuller potential.


Lesson #5: Farm to Table

When Miss Gina began the gardening project, the importance of a nutritious diet and self-sustainability were important teaching goals. The kids regularly volunteer at a malnutrition clinic, where babies were dying due to a lack of proper nutrition, and the garden showed the way to solutions.

You know the old saying about “teaching a man to fish,” and regardless of their future financial situation, Miss Gina enforced the importance of knowing how to grow fresh produce.

One of the best bonuses? Learning to cook with the veggies! They have made salsa from the cilantro, pesto sauce from basil, zoodles (vegetable noodles) from the zucchini, and salads with the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.

It’s not just the meals that have been fulfilling—with every set back and every lesson, they improved and have come to cherish each harvest and the memories made by cooking dinner together.

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. — Gertrude Jekyll

Jelly Bellies and Faithful Hearts

Jelly Bellies and Faithful Hearts

Easter is always a special time at the Have Faith Haiti Mission – and not just because of the new spring outfits generously donated by individual sponsors. It’s a celebration of faith and renewal, of community and coming together.

Let’s start with a little fashion show, brought to you by Widley learning how to put on a tie:

Best dressed in their Easter best (but sorry, no bonnets!)

They shared a special moment releasing balloons to heaven, in remembrance of those loved and lost.

So much Easter basket fun, with thanks especially to Beaumont Health for the teddy bears, and beautiful greeting cards in Kreyol from Cardz for Kidz.

These baskets belong to our newest additions, and are their first Easter baskets.

And then the hunt began–for 400 eggs, that is. Yes. 400! Ready, set, go….

May we all be as excited as this happy bunny Manes (even before any sugar!)


Josue and Bianka found the golden eggs and were later treated to ice cream at Sugar Rush, an ice cream parlor and candy store in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince where Have Faith Haiti is located. They also showed off their moves as they posed just like the mannequins in nearby store windows.

But perhaps what they will remember the most is the Jelly Belly challenge. Weird and gross, or sweet and delicious? Who knows! But you quickly get a good idea of how they fared once you watch these answers to li bon?

Can you tell who got coconut and who got spoiled milk?


Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break

Due to safety concerns – and logistics – large group visits to the Have Faith Haiti Mission is a rare occurrence. But we were so glad to welcome a group of fifteen students from Springfield College, in Massachusetts, for an alternative spring break on a service trip in Haiti.

Choosing Port-au-Prince over Puerto Vallarta, students led by junior Kristen Madeia, senior Jordan Pelletier, and President Mary-Beth Cooper spent time learning, reading and playing with the kids of the Mission while also working on a painting project. Madeia told The Springfield Student (newspaper), “It completely changes your perspective on the privileges we have being American and growing up in this country, specifically thinking of children …We don’t necessarily take advantage of our education and value it as much as children in Haiti do. It’s interesting how the children down there really value what they are learning. They are so excited to go to school and to tell you what they are learning in comparison to kids here, who dread going to school every day and don’t take their education seriously.”

Choosing the Have Faith Haiti Mission as a destination was inspired by Mitch Albom’s talk at the college’s 4th Annual Arts and Humanities Speaker Series in October 2017.

A special thank you to Paul Schnaittacher, who provided the lovely photos.

Holiday Blessings

Holiday Blessings

The holiday isn’t supposed to be about presents, but it would be a lie to not admit that there’s something special watching children, who have learned to live without a lot, unwrap presents on Christmas morning.

Unfettered, uninhibited joy. Woah!

We couldn’t have moments like this without thanking sponsors and donors who, in the midst of their own holiday celebrations and preparations, donated to bring these smiles. They are: Homer and Sheri A., Carolyn A., Jeannie B., Heather B., Livia C., Francesca E., Becky F., Mark F., Pam G., Jennifer H., Vicki H., Laura H., Marybeth J., Sam and Shelia J., Kasey & Jessica J., Elise L., Amber M., Beckie N., Patti N., Ashley R., Rita R., Roz S., Karisa S., Gabrielle T., Connie V., Kathleen V., Suzanne W., Jessica W., Sarah W., and Cathy W.

Here’s to a new year, more joy, and all the blessings to come!

Love is It, and Love is All at Have Faith Haiti

Love is It, and Love is All at Have Faith Haiti

We believe in showing you reality, without ever indulging in what some call “disaster porn” (you know those photos of ravaged areas or starving children surrounded by flies). When we first arrived in Haiti nearly 7 years ago, we showed you what we saw as we first drove out to the Mission. When we drove into areas hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew, we showed you the reality of what our staff faced as they tried to distribute the supplies you helped fund. We show you positive photos of our children as they grow and learn because our children are happy and healthy, and it’s all because of your support.

Our newest addition is named Gaelson. He is six. An orphan, he has already endured tuberculosis and malnutrition, and was bouncing from place to place. The photo here shows him at his most dangerous health-wise in August 2016 while first receiving phenomenal care at Espwa Berlancia, a malnutrition clinic where our kids have volunteered their time.

His health remains a challenge, but he’s doing so much better. We love him and will try everything during his trial period to make our place be the last new home of his childhood.

Photos tell thousand-word stories, so they say. We’re sharing these photos because they tell a much shorter one: This is why we do what we do. We must. Thank you for helping us do it.

Another End to the School Year, Another Graduation

Another End to the School Year, Another Graduation

The Have Faith Haiti school has two treasured traditions to welcome, and wave goodbye, to each school year. An ice cream filled dance party takes place each September before the first day of school, during which students get to select their backpacks, and fill their pencil cases with necessary school basics like pencils, highlighters, and a sharpener.

At the end of the year, the last day of school is also a party. We call it a graduation, but it’s really a celebration of the academic excellence achieved through the year. Students receive certificates and honors and perform skits in French. This academic year, we added an English oral presentation class to the schedule, so the older children also has a chance to display their new skills with oral presentations in English. The assigned topic? Their teachers!  They spoke eloquently and very appreciatively about their teachers and how fortunate they are to be getting a high-quality education.

The supplies and backpacks from the beginning of the year are donated annually through the back-to-school wish list from generous sponsors and supporters. We’ll be posting information about the wish list for the 2017-2018 academic year soon.

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