Greetings from the Maison Fortune Foundation Board
As some of you may know, my name is Ryan Kenrick and I am the President of the Maison Fortune Foundation. During a recent lunch with the MFO Foundation’s fearless Executive Director -Mary Kwasniewski – Mary challenged me to write about what continues to draw me to Maison Fortune. I’m a 34-year-old attorney with a wife and young family, so naturally, I bristled at yet another task to add to my never-ending “to-do list.” Nonetheless, I accepted Mary’s challenge and spent some time asking myself a series of questions about why I stay involved. It was a worthwhile exercise and really re-energized my commitment to the Foundation. Today I thought I’d share with you two of the most important questions I asked myself…
- Why do I believe in Maison Fortune’s mission? As the President of the Foundation, I think about this question a lot. Haiti is a complicated country with complicated problems, but fortunately, the answer to this question is simple. I believe in Maison Fortune because we focus on educating Haiti’s youth. In my eyes, educating our residents is the single most important thing that Maison Fortune does—period. If Haiti’s circumstances are ever going to change then it’s the educated Haitian youth that will drive that change. A common criticism of American NGO’s is that we think we have all the answers. At MFO we know we don’t have all the answers. Instead, we believe that if we give our kids the educational tools they need then they will come up with the answers for themselves. This is what drives us to put a premium on education at Maison Fortune. In our primary school we teach 291 kids (this includes over 176 local kids from the neighboring town). We send another 96 kids to high school and 23 of our young adults are currently attending university or technical school. I firmly believe that the education these young people receive with the support of Foundation will make a difference in their lives and their communities.
- Are we making any progress? The answer is unequivocal, yes! When the Maison Fortune Orphanage first started in 2002, Jean Louis (the founder of the Orphanage) only had the resources to focus on the most basic needs of our kids—food and shelter. We’ve come a long way from those humble beginnings. With the financial support of the Foundation, Maison Fortune has grown into quite an impressive operation. We now have two campuses providing a home for over 175 boys and girls. In addition, over 700 meals are served on these campuses every day (this includes meals to the local kids who attend our primary school). With their basic food and shelter needs met, our kids can focus on their education and they are excelling at every level! Perhaps this is most evident in the 23 young men and women who have finished high school and are currently studying in universities and technical schools throughout Haiti. These future leaders of Haiti are truly at the cusp of becoming contributing adults in the Haitian society—and best of all, they know it! When you look at them you can see it in their eyes. When you listen to them talk about internship opportunities and career paths you can hear their confidence and hope. This is absolutely progress and it’s what gives me the motivation to keep supporting the Foundation.
Whether you’re a longtime supporter or a new friend to the Orphanage, I challenge you to spend some time today thinking about your own involvement. You can and you do make a difference in the lives of these kids. It’s important to reflect on this from time to time.
As always, I’d like to thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support.