Volunteers

We’re Off To A Great Start!

unnamed-1This time of the year not only is a time for celebrating but also the time to welcome VISITORS to our campus. This is a key part to our success and our ability to keep offering the services we do. When our story becomes your story we all win!

The orphanage becomes a second home to individuals reaching out to learn more about our mission to larger groups that are seeking an organization to help.The MFO boys and girls cherish the love and time volunteers spend with them during this season. Personal experiences lead to the best stories and we are thankful that upon returning to the states so many of you share our story with others!

We have many plans in store for 2018:

· assisting in the successful graduation of 5 MFO Alumni completing their senior year in college,

· renewing our commitment to education for our primary school ensuring we continue our high standards,

· and we will begin to look at ways to reach out into the community to make sure children that don’t need to be in our care can be placed back with family members or other primary care givers.

With all of this on our plate we also will continue to work to meet the daily needs of food, shelter and security for all of those in our care. The help of volunteers who bring not only their time and love but also supplies of clothing, hygiene items and toys this work is not only possible it is happening every day! We are so thankful for our community and we look forward to 2018 – our 18th year of service together to the Haitian Community!

Maison FortunéWe’re Off To A Great Start!
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A Spring Break Twist

I had been to Haiti before. But I knew that Royal Caribbean’s private island would be nothing like what I was about to experience over Spring Break in Hinche. I did not know exactly what to expect, but I ascertained some idea of what the trip would entail when the packing list included lots of sunscreen, plenty of heavy duty bug spray, and a full prescription of malaria pills. Nonetheless I was beyond excited to reach the orphanage and spend the week in Haiti.

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Two teachers, one deacon, seven juniors, six sophomores, and three freshmen from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach traveled to Maison Fortune in April 2017 to do missionary work and to gain the experience of a lifetime. After two long flights and a bumpy van ride, we finally reached the orphanage. Stepping out of the van, I was anxious, as I had no idea what to expect. Almost Instantaneously, boys came running through the rain to greet us and come help us with our luggage.

Shortly my nerves subsided and I felt at home right away. I came to learn that Maison Fortune was a tight knit group of young boys and girls who loved nothing more than learning new things and spending time with the people who have come to visit them.

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Those who have been to Maison Fortune can attest to the fact that the children in Haiti have a lasting impact on everyone they meet. To those who plan on going, my advice to you is to go with an open mind and learn all that you can from these kids, because they were able to teach me so much in just the few days I was there. I truly valued every second I was able to spend with those in Haiti, whether it was watching a movie in French, kicking around a soccer ball, or just talking on the porch.

There were so many wonderful parts about the trip, so I am not sure that I can pick a favorite, but I am certain the worst part of the whole week was saying goodbye.

Submitted by:  Casey Cummings, Student at Bishop Sullivan High School, MFO Volunteer

Maison FortunéA Spring Break Twist
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MFO Then and Now: Dieuliphete’s Heart

Many of you know the story of our sweet Chervillus Dieuliphete, who was left with us at age 5 when his own family was unable to care for him, so we welcomed him into ours. He will be 11 this upcoming year and has never been stronger – most recently winning the “handstand walk-off” competition during a Field Day Event this December against our special guest, Reebok sponsored athlete – Ashley Horner. img_3584But he wasn’t always this healthy. What we didn’t know when Dieuliphete joined us was that he was born with a congenital heart disease that makes it hard for his heart to pump oxygenated blood to the rest of his body. We learned of his condition through our partnership with the Eastern Virginia Medical School HaitiHOPES group. A group of medical volunteers diagnosed the problem during their visit in March of 2014. They informed us that his heart would require surgery to correct. EVMS then put us in touch with Partners in Health-Haiti and their teaching hospital in Mirebalais, about a 1 hour drive from the Orphanage. The group in Mirebalais connected us with a medical organization in Port au Prince called Haiti Cardiac and through fate and networking, Dieuliphete was flown to the Cayman Islands where his surgery was performed.  Returning to us safely, he had his final check up with the Haiti Cardiac in Mirebalais this past July – the result is a heart-healthy Dieuliphete!!  He works hard each day, not taking his second chance at life for granted! He is a considerate, helpful and brave boy who is full of smiles and acrobatics. We are thankful for the many teams that worked with us to make him healthy again! We know Dieuliphete will make us all proud!!

ThenNewsletter Feature Story Dieuliphete Heart EVMS

Now

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Photographer Eva Fuze Volunteer at Maison Fortune Orphanage HaitiAlthough typically more on the reserved and shy side with new visitors, Dieuliphete quickly found a friend in our volunteer photographer, Eva Fuze, on her first trip to the orphanage in July of 2016. Eva now tells us she considers Dieuliphete like a little brother, and she sponsors him through a recurring monthly donation. She was able to visit the orphanage for a second time in December with Ashley, and was worried it might take some time for Dieuliphete and the other children to remember her. But sure enough, our sweet D had insisted on making her a card to welcome her back to MFO. Through her monthly sponsorship, she is able to help MFO provide Dieuliphete and our other residents with more resources and opportunities to continue thriving, and she encourages you to do the same. Click this link to learn more about our “Sponsor a Child” program.

Maison FortunéMFO Then and Now: Dieuliphete’s Heart
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Beyond Extraordinary… Update from the Field

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 Mary Kwasniewski Maison Fortune Orphanage Haiti

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]

Maison FortunéBeyond Extraordinary… Update from the Field
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Volunteers Inspire, Get Inspired

It’s easy to tell people about the Maison Fortuné Orphanage, but the impact is always so much greater when people experience the culture and children for themselves.  That’s what volunteer photographer Eva Fuze of R2R Marketing found when she visited MFO this week.

We can’t do justice to Eva’s comments, so here’s one she shared during her visit:

‘In my element’ doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings of being in Hinche this week. It’s like a very large part of my heart has been dormant for years until now. The last time I felt this FULL was when I was a Girl Scout leader for an outreach troop in high school. Having tiny little hands grab mine when I walk… The excitement of these kids as they say “Photo! Photo!” and rush to look at their face on the camera screen after I take their picture… There is a language barrier, yet somehow the communication feels more clear and powerful than most conversations I am used to on a day-to-day basis. I am inspired. I am appreciative. And I already know I will be forever changed by this trip.

If you are interested in volunteering, and discovering how rewarding it can be to make a difference in a child’s life, please let us know.

Maison FortuneVolunteers Inspire, Get Inspired
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