Part of my job as Executive Director entails traveling several times a year to Haiti to support and check in with our Haitian Founder and Director Jean Louis, our Campus Staff leaders, and our kids – on their turf. When I visit, a variety of administrative things happen that would be typical for any NGO: planning for upcoming projects/needs, talking with and working with local partners (which in our case include existing and potential institutions where our kids can get training and jobs), and staff meetings to discuss our current procedures and how we can improve our reporting and processes. On occasion, I also have the opportunity to be in Haiti when a group is visiting. It is in this role that I love rediscovering the place our MFO kids call home through their new friends’ eyes. Regardless of how many times I travel to MFO, new visitors and supporters always get me thinking, often bringing up questions that help us continue to grow and learn.
This past week I was able to help host our MFO Photographer Eva Fuze and Fitness Expert Ashley Horner, creator of #BecomingExtraordinary and owner of multiple businesses based out of Virginia Beach at the orphanage in Haiti. It was truly a twist of fate from the start when Eva introduced Ashley to MFO through relaying her own life-changing experience during a visit to the orphanage this past summer. These stories touched Ashley’s heart and her compassion for our vision. Her commitment to MFO was immediately exhibited with an amazing donation and an enthusiasm to take on a role with MFO to help us reach our goals of awareness and funding. As finding new funding streams for MFO is my primary responsibility, I can say no one was more excited than me and plans were set in motion for Ashley to visit in early December. As any Executive Director would do, I researched Ashley the Fitness Expert on the internet, spoke with a few of her supporters, visited her businesses and quickly learned she would give nothing but 100% to any effort or cause she believed in. I was excited and overwhelmed at times to think of the opportunities that lie ahead for our kids with Ashley and her base of loyal supporters on board.
But Ashley the “Fitness Expert” didn’t come to MFO.
This past week, we hosted Ms. Ashley Horner, the compassionate and loving mother of three boys, who while visiting Hinche discovered that she could also paint the toes of our little girls. We were enamored by Ashley, who let her boys run our grounds from sun-up to sun-down without shoes because our MFO boys weren’t wearing their shoes either. We were awed by Ashley, who lead our girls in soccer drills at 5 AM on a Saturday in the Hinche Central Park. We fell in love with Ashley, who we learned has an acquired taste for Spicy Haitian Mamba (peanut butter)! We were impressed by Ashley, who swung in a hammock on our porch, practicing Creole phrases so she could better communicate with the children.
We were visited by Ashley — who showed us what it is to BE Extraordinary.
In the coming months we will be exploring our partnership with Ashley Horner and how we can make the most impact together. We will be keeping you updated via social media platforms as well as this blog. Thank you Ms. Ashley Horner for sharing your time, energy and heart with these children. Our adventure together is just beginning!
—Mary Kwasniewski, Executive Director of Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation
Ashley Horner, Jean Louis Lefort (MFO Founder), & Mary Kwasniewski at the Maison Fortune Orphanage in Hinche, Haiti
Want to get involved in the MFO story? We are currently running our 2016 Holiday giving campaign: Room For One More.
This holiday season, we focus on the opportunities to open our hearts for giving.
We believe that there is always room for one more… one more place around the table, one more mouth to feed, one more at-risk child we can provide with more opportunities for a brighter future. For less than the cost of a guest at your meals this holiday season, you can make a significant impact on the life of a child in Haiti.
[All photography courtesy of Eva Fuze Photo]