Latest News

Going The Extra Mile(s) For Our Children

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.  Every time that we see a volunteer light up as they SEE and UNDERSTAND the potential that these kids have for Haiti’s future – our resolve for the mission to raise future leaders of Haiti becomes stronger.

Last year we welcomed an extraordinary visitor – well-known fitness expert and business owner, Ashley Horner. While at the orphanage, Ashley fully embraced the culture and gave her heart, soul and mind to the children of MFO – as if they were her own. On her way home, she knew that there was more to be done and that the adventure together with her MFO family had just begun.
Ashley immediately hit the ground running (both literally and figuratively) with plans to help the MFO children in an extraordinary way. On April 3, 2017, Ashley will lace up her shoes and embark on a trek through Haiti. From Port-Au-Prince, up to the mountains on the north side of the island, past the beautiful coastline of Cap Haitien, and back south where the roads are no longer paved to return to the little town of Hinche, where the boys and girls of MFO will join her for the last mile ofher 230+ mile run.Ashleu Runs Haiti

Why is she doing this you might as?  Here is an excerpt from Ashley’sblog that will help you understand:

“It all starts with education, deep rooted from the very beginning and built from the ground up.And releasing them back into the community to become the leaders of Haiti. What I witnessed during my time in Haiti were traditions passed on from generation to generation and many of those will never change, this is what makes Haitians so beautiful and unique. What I also saw, were so many unfinished or non-logical solutions started by ‘American volunteers’ that did more harm than good. What they need is education for the students, encouraging them to attend Haitian university, educating the Haitian doctors, educating the teachers. And the infrastructure will change. This is why at Maison Fortune education is the number one priority, and this is why I have set out on this journey to raise a lot of money for the Maison Fortune educational funding.  My goal, with your help, is to raise $28,000 for the elementary school.  Believe me when I say the boys and girls are so so smart, they simply need the tools of education to put them back into a country that needs them.”

 

We are grateful to have Ashley in our MFO family, and invite you to join her in support as she embarks upon this journey through Haiti toward creating more opportunities for our children!

 

 

 

 

Maison FortunéGoing The Extra Mile(s) For Our Children
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New Roof, New Year!

Our roof-raising project was completed in time for our New Year’s Day Celebration and Party on January 1, 2017! We could not have achieved this milestone without your support. We are thankful for all of the donors that make our infrastructure projects their priority.

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The dining area is not only where our boys eat but it is also our community space where we gather for movie nights, chess tournaments and mass. Most importantly, it is our study space – keeping it dry and structurally sound can’t be under estimated.

Along with our roof, we were also able to raise the front gate to help keep water out of the campus during the rainy season. The next time you drive up – our gate will open smoothly – in fact, Jean Louis says even Oday can push it!

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2017 marks the 15th year of the Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation (MFOF) supporting the Maison Fortune Orphanage (MFO). What started out with the need, expressed by our founder Jean Louis, to move 30 kids from a one room house into a larger facility has grown to two campuses and a primary school touching the lives of 400 children and young adults daily. As our children have aged the needs have adapted over time.

Jean Louis, 2008 in front of boys dorm building being builtThese projects are just the beginning of what we have in store for 2017 – as we take care of our kids, we also need to take care of the facilities that keep them safe and sheltered. We also would love to hear from you if you know of an organization working on job creation or vocational training let them know about us – its takes a community.

Together, the next 15 years will be our best!

Maison FortunéNew Roof, New Year!
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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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New Roof For Our Boys’ Dining Area & Kitchen!

We are having a roof raising! Thanks to the support from our Capital Fund contributors we have been able to start the long awaited Dining Hall and Kitchen renovation project.  As our oldest building on campus, our kitchen was in dire need of some love and care. This year’s rainy season revealed the full extent of the damage to the roof’s structure, when the space leaked as if there was no roof at all! The children use this space to eat, read, study, do homework, play games and attend mass, and we are so excited to finally be renovating this crucial space for them.

BEFORE

roof renovation project holes kitchen haiti orphanageroof renovation project kitchen haiti orphanage

Construction is currently underway to replace and reinforce the structure of the covered dining area as well as the kitchen building. The renovation will solve many problems on our boys’ campus by also adding a drainage space between the roofs of the kitchen and the dining hall. The area is being reinforced with concrete and will drain out the ditch to the back side of the orphanage to avoid any standing water problems.  We are hopeful our dining and kitchen facility will be up and ready for use for our special Christmas and New Years dinners, as these are two big holidays in Haiti!  We are looking forward to the holidays and hosting the guests that will be joining us at the orphanage!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION:

Maison Fortune Orphanage Roof Haiti Under Construction 2Maison Fortune Orphanage Roof Haiti Under Construction 1We will update everyone with completed photos once the roof renovation project is completed! Thank you for your continued support and generous donations!
Maison FortunéNew Roof For Our Boys’ Dining Area & Kitchen!
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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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Do Your Online Shopping Through Amazon, Donate to MFO – It’s a Win-Win!

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All year long, Amazon Smile partners with non-profits and charitable organizations to create more opportunities for individuals to give back to causes they care about. As we approach the holiday season, many people will be turning to Amazon for their holiday gift shopping for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and we want YOU to take advantage of this special program to help support the children of Maison Fortuné Orphanage!

It’s easy. All you have to do is click through to this link, and select MFO as your choice for preferred organization, then start shopping! You’ll need to be sure you’re using the “Smile.Amazon.com” link each time you shop.

How does it work?

  • Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.
  • AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service.
  • Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages.

You use the same account on Amazon.com and AmazonSmile. Your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings are also the same. The only difference is the link you use to access Amazon! There is no additional charge for participating in the Amazon Smile program. However, we always encourage you to consider making a recurring or one-time donation through our website here.

Support us when you shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #StartWithaSmile at smile.amazon.com/ch/30-0007910 and Amazon donates to Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation Inc.

 

Maison FortunéDo Your Online Shopping Through Amazon, Donate to MFO – It’s a Win-Win!
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Make the Most of Your Charitable Giving

Haiti-child-planned-giving-orphanage-girlPlanned gifts can provide increased income and valuable tax savings to you, while at the same time allowing you to make a significant commitment to the future of the Maison Fortuné Orphanage. Planned giving options include bequests, trusts and life-income gifts. These provide donors with the satisfaction of knowing they are leaving a legacy of philanthropic support by giving a planned gift to an organization close to his or her heart. These gifts can help secure the future health and success of the organization.

Planned Giving

[Rick Martin, Treasurer]

In the past, the Foundation has reached out to our donors asking for support to the current operating budget for food, clothing, housing, etc…to meet the immediate needs of the Maison Fortuné Orphanage.  But the Foundation is also interested in the sustainable future support to create a lasting mission that provides for the children of Maison Fortune in Hinche, Haiti.  The Foundation created an Endowment Fund just for that purpose many years ago – to provide for the future mission at Maison Fortuné.  Donors continue to have the opportunity and option of supporting that Endowment through direct donation or through Planned Giving.

Though current operations are our priority, the Endowment must also grow and be supported. A planned gift is any major gift, made in lifetime or at death as part of a donor’s overall financial and/or estate planning.  The Foundation can accept gifts of cash that maybe tax deductible depending on your tax situation.  You might also consider donating a gift of life insurance where the death proceeds from the insurance are paid to the Foundation.  There are also Charitable Trusts where a donor may want to make a donation to the Foundation, but not give undivided Trust interest to the Foundation.  All of these options are available, but in all cases you should consult your financial adviser, tax attorney, and estate attorney to determine what is best for you.  Thank you for your continued generous support.  Questions related to Planned Giving can be sent to donate@mfofoundation.org.

Planned gifts typically offer substantial tax savings to donors especially on appreciated properties and securities. A planned gift can reduce income tax and avoid capital gains tax.

Haiti-child-planned-giving-orphanageMaking The Most Of Your Gifts

As you think about making your contribution to MFOF please keep in mind your Company may match your donation amount!  Many corporations have matching gifts programs and match dollar for dollar an employee’s contribution to a specific organization.  We are also happy to help with the paperwork to facilitate the matching gift.  Check with your company and we look forward to you gift!

We also suggest that you consider gifts to charity in lieu of holiday gifts. The internet makes it easier than ever to connect loved ones with your favorite charity as an alternative to traditional gift giving.  Together your friends can make a bigger impact – here are some holiday gifting ideas to help you get started:

  • Support a child with the gift of meals for three months: $100
  • Support the high school tuition for a MFO resident: $250
  • Sponsor a year of school for a University Student in Haiti: $2500
Maison FortunéMake the Most of Your Charitable Giving
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Clean, Consistent Water For Our Girls’ Campus – Special Projects Update

In response to Hurricane Matthew, many relief efforts have been focused on solving the dangers posed by contaminated water and broken water supply lines. Hundreds of NGOs and large corporations have gotten on board with the cause to provide Haiti with clean water supplies to offset this acute water shortage. Nestlé Waters North America, for example, pledged to donate $1 million in bottled water products to support disaster relief efforts following the Hurricane.

Special Project #1: Girls’ Campus Well

While it is wonderful to be supporting the immediate need for those hit hardest by the Hurricane, bringing in purified bottled water will be a short term fix for a long term problem. We are all too aware of this, as our girls’ campus has been without a consistent source of running water for quite some time now. Our well is currently powered by a submersible pump which is subject to corrosion from the hard water supply and is no longer functioning.  It is our hope to dig a deeper well to 220ft, which would reach the water table where the water is safe for consumption.  The pumping mechanism for this well would be manual and will allow the girls campus to have safe and consistent access to water long term. The total estimated cost to dig the well and purchase the pump would be $15,000.

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Our existing water pump, covered in hard deposits and rust.

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Proposed manual pump example.

We are very excited to share that we have recently received confirmation that a wonderful donor will be helping to cover the costs of this project! We will be bringing in a professional plumber the week of Thanksgiving to assess the situation of the existing well set-up and assess the long-term sustainability of various options.

Another risk factor we must keep an eye on following Hurricane Matthew is the spread of waterborne illnesses. Cholera is back in Haiti and it is something we address every day.  Right now, we have an American Doctor staying at the campus and he is monitoring our children for symptoms. He is also looking into the possibility of vaccines being sent to Haiti by Partners in Health.  Dr. Robinson is a welcomed asset to our campus and we are very grateful for his time residing at the general hospital here in Hinche. Our very own doctor for the children, Dr. Charles, also works tirelessly to ensure that the children are kept in good health and we are taking preventative measures to be able to recognize cholera early.

Special Project #2: Boys’ Campus Landscaping & Kitchen Upgrade

Our dining and kitchen area is the oldest building on the boys’ campus, and sadly it has begun to show its age. The roof has holes and other structural damage which prevents the children from safely gathering here. They use this space to eat, read, study, do homework, play games and attend mass. We need immediate upgrades to this structure so it can be underway now during the dry season.

img_7830img_7824img_7822In addition to upgrading the structure of the pavilion and kitchen building, we will begin the conversion from coal to gas cooking for our kitchen this fall as well! This change will be cleaner for our staff and children, as well as for the Haitian environment on a bigger scale. We are very excited to have received funding to make this move toward clean propane cooking a reality!

img_7836img_7833IMG_7838We also have a proposal to help reduce the standing water around the boys campus during the rainy season as well as address the amount of dirt and dust during the dry season through paving more parts of the boys’ campus.  We will accomplish this by bringing in concrete to the campus to provide for proper drainage and safer areas for play and study.  This landscaping plan is needed to help make our campus safer from mosquito borne illnesses as well as to ensure we can keep our trees healthy to provide shade from hot sun.  The concrete will also help reduce the dust and dirt that leads to many respiratory problems with our children during the dry season.  The plan for the concrete landscaping and kitchen improvement will cost approximately $26K, and we still need additional funding to cover the costs of this special project.

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Dirt entryway to the boys’ campus, showing where erosion occurs due to high traffic and lack of a paved concrete path.

We could not provide for these sorts of larger improvement projects around our two campuses without the constant support of our amazing donors. Your tax-deductible donation will make a direct impact to better the lives of the boys and girls of the Maison Fortuné orphanage. We operate our non-profit organization with minimal overhead costs to maximize the funds that are able to go directly to the food, shelter, education and programs for these children. Please consider giving to support these special projects online or by mailing a check to:

Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation
P.O. Box 3092
Chesapeake, VA 23327-3092

Maison FortunéClean, Consistent Water For Our Girls’ Campus – Special Projects Update
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Update on Hurricane Matthew: From our Directors’ Desks

Our Executive Director, Mary Kwasniewski, and our President, Ryan Kenrick, recently shared their thoughts following the devastation left in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew. While our boys, girls and staff were unharmed by the initial force of the storm, the aftermath remains unpredictable and complex.  Read on to hear what we know, and what remains uncertain, and find out how you can help the children of Maison Fortuné Orphanage during this difficult time…

Mary Kwasniewski Executive Director Maison Fortune OrphanageMary Kwasniewski, Executive Director of Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation

Our children, facilities and staff are safe. Hinche had some minor flooding but all in all, the area was spared the brunt of the storm. This is great news! However, nearly everyone in Haiti has a relative or friend that has been devastated. In the coming months, families will be making their way up from the south and our doors will likely open for children with nowhere else to turn. Additionally, in a country where the food supply is always at risk, the hit to a major agricultural area – as the South of Haiti was – will have ripple effects for the entire country. This includes food shortages and food price hikes, as well as fuel spikes.  We must be prepared for all of these. Jean Louis will be managing the planning and prioritizing our resourcing accordingly. We are also watching the spread of cholera and while we have not seen an increase in cases in the Central Plateau yet, that can swiftly change. Jean Louis is looking into providing purified water for the children if the disease spreads to our area. Our wellness clinic during the last outbreak was able to identify cases early and get our children the hydration therapy needed to remain healthy. While our goal is to prevent it entirely, we will also be committing resources to our wellness clinic to be prepared for worst case scenarios to protect our children.  It goes without saying that natural disasters in Haiti can be managed but they come at a cost to all. Our biggest need during this time is for cash resources to help us prepare to face many of these unknowns. Collecting and shipping supplies is cost prohibitive. Donations can be made via check or directly through our website.

In a recent article by the CBC/Radio Canada, Jonathan Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, had this to say about relief efforts in the light of lessons learned after the earthquake – “What needs to happen is that, as in every disaster, there needs to be a serious effort made to ensure that the help that comes builds up the country and does not undercut the country’s institutions.” He and other observers suggest that donors ask questions about where their money will go and prioritize giving to local organizations run by Haitians.  As with all of our MFOF donations, donations given in response to the storm will make the most impact as they are spent immediately within the local Haitian community.

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Ryan Kenrick, President of Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation

Friends –

By now I’m guessing everyone has seen stories and pictures coming out of Haiti showing the devastation left behind by Hurricane Matthew. I’ve received a lot of messages seeking updates on the status of the orphanage so I thought I’d send out a quick post. First, thanks for all of the support and prayers. I’m happy to report that the orphanage was spared any major structural damages and the river did not cause major flooding. That is the good news. The bad news is that we are now experiencing sky-rocketing food and gas prices. We are also bracing ourselves for another influx of children who suddenly have no where else to go. The kids at the orphanage are well cared for, but we operate on a shoe-string budget and simply don’t have resources stockpiled to address catastrophes. In the past we’ve turned to the community for help so I’m hoping you guys will step up again. If you could take a couple of minutes and make a donation to the orphanage I would really appreciate it. 

I hate to do it, but imagine if your own child, or grandchild, or niece or nephew were at the orphanage—consider giving as much as you would if that were the scenario.

You guys are great. Thanks.

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Maison FortunéUpdate on Hurricane Matthew: From our Directors’ Desks
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