Latest News

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.


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.


Maison FortunéUpdate on Hurricane Matthew: From our Directors’ Desks
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MFO Makes Preparations as Haiti Braces for Hurricane Matthew (UPDATED)

***UPDATE (Oct. 6)***

We have received word from our campus director that Hurricane Matthew has passed with minimal flooding and damage to the campus in Hinche. Our boys did not have to evacuate their campus (which is the one closest to the river and thus most susceptible to flooding).  They were all smiles and took a few photos, which help reassure that they are indeed okay!

We are so grateful that we avoided the worst of the Hurricane in the Central Plateau. But we are not in the clear yet. There is still a very real concern of a post-hurricane cholera outbreak. After the 2010 earthquake, more than 6,000 Haitians died from the water-borne disease, with another 470,000 cases reported.

Our wellness clinic will become very important as Cholera outbreaks are usual after this type of event. As well as we will be preparing to accept additional children as needs are assessed. Donations can be sent by check or made online here –

Sadly, although we are grateful that we avoided the path of the storm’s destruction, much of Haiti was not as fortunate. The southern part of Haiti, on the western peninsula, appears to have gotten hit the hardest and the main road leading to this region was badly devastated by the storm so accurate information is still being compiled. According to the United Nations, the disaster has affected 350,000 Haitians and left the country facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the devastating earthquake six years ago.

We appreciate your continued support during this scary time.

“I’m here but my heart is in Haiti” – Jean Rene Clerveaux, expressing why this is a bittersweet time for him.

Read the 13 News Now story HERE.

Jean Rene just graduated from Tidewater Community College with an associate’s degree in social science. His education was sponsored by the Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation. He grew up in the orphanage, where he lived through other natural disasters like the massive earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Ike. He is truly a success story and we are so proud of him. We are hopeful that he is able to return to his home and his family soon!

Haitian interim President Jocelerme Privert warned Haitians on Sunday, October 2nd to make preparations for Hurricane Matthew, which no longer threatened just the southern peninsula, but all of Haiti.

Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, October 4th. There are dozens of reports of flooded towns, power outages, destroyed homes, livestock washed away and crops ruined, according to Haiti Libre.

Ryan Kenrick, President and Chairman of the Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation, spoke with ABC 13 News Now to share how the organization was preparing for the storm in a video interview which can be found here.

Maison Fortuné founder, Jean-Louis Lefort reports: “It is raining but so far everything is staying within the river banks. The wind was worse overnight and isn’t as bad right now. All the kids are doing fine – they appreciate the outpouring of support and love and we will continue to keep everyone updated.”

This is not the first time that Haiti has been hit by a devastating hurricane. In 2008, Haiti was hit by 3 strong hurricanes, including Hurricane Ike which flooded the boys’ campus.  This was the first time our staff had experienced a hurricane at that campus location.  Our boys campus is located on the banks of the Guayamouco River.  No one predicted that much rainfall in 2008 and the flooding came on quickly.

Fortunately, we are much better prepared now.  Jean-Louis was able to return to Haiti on Saturday.  We’ve been in constant contact with him. Infrastructure has been secured and arrangements for the boys to temporarily relocate to our girls campus are in place. We have moved our food stores to higher ground on both campuses and we are moving our smaller boys from the three back houses to the second story of the school building.  The schools in Haiti are closed as well.

Now we wait and see how it all develops. Thankfully, we are not on the coastline so we will hopefully be spared the worst. We greatly appreciate the concern and support sent our way during this worrisome time. We will continue to keep our community of supporters updated.


Maison FortunéMFO Makes Preparations as Haiti Braces for Hurricane Matthew (UPDATED)
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Combined Federal Campaign Support

For Military personnel or Federal Employees who are currently Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation donors or  potential donors looking for a good cause, the Federal Government is starting its 2016 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). The Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation is an approved charitable organization by the CFC governing board.

Your federal organization, command, or unit has the necessary information to donate through the campaign but you will need the CFC number for Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation: 12234.

Your generous tax-deductible donation will go directly to the operating budget of Maison Fortuné to provide food, clothing, education, and a solid shelter for the 200 orphans, some of the poorest children in Haiti. The Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation has a goal of adding 1,500 new donors by 2019. Your consistent donation allows the Foundation to meet the monthly budgetary needs for the children. Please consider donating.

Maison FortunéCombined Federal Campaign Support
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Thanks For Your Support

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported the Maison Fortuné Orphanage by participating in our Tap Tap Festival fundraiser.  The event was a huge success and we appreciate your support!

Because of you, we were able to raise $28,000 that directly benefits the Children of Maison Fortuné!  This is $5,000 over last year’s proceeds! We are so grateful!

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you next year.

Maison FortunéThanks For Your Support
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A Call for Change – A Move to Clean Gas Cooking

Convert to Clean Gas Cooking — $10,000

On the campus of Maison Fortuné the day starts, as most do, with breakfast, then there is a mid day meal served to all the school children, followed then by dinner.  Gas-cooking-Picture2Our cooking staff of works non-stop on the weekdays and on the weekends the boys cook together for themselves.  As with all kitchens – it’s an area to congregate, share stories and hang out… but unlike your kitchen, our cooking flames are fueled by charcoal.  Each WEEK we procure 150 lbs of charcoal to keep our fires hot while the rice is cooked.  In Haiti charcoal makes up more that 60% of the consumed energy but it doesn’t have to.

The cost of charcoal to the island has been devastating – the deforestation, especially in the high mountains, has serious consequences: it causes soil erosion, which affects hydrological cycles and threatens the quality and availability of drinking water. It also causes longer periods of intense drought like Haiti experienced this past winter and has even been linked to rising levels of malaria incidence. Another effect is the destruction of the habitat of species endemic to the country and, more dangerously, makes Haiti vulnerable to natural disasters.  According to the New York Times, Over 98% of the Haiti’s lands are deforested and illegal charcoal is now flowing across the border from the DR where long ago their government banned the production of charcoal to protect its forests.

Gas-cooking-Picture3At Maison Fortuné we are striving to raise the future leaders of Haiti – many of them will find work in agriculture.  This means it is also our job, to make sure jobs in agriculture will exist in the future. For this reason and to begin to reverse the effects described above Maison Fortuné has decided to take the steps towards Clean Gas cooking.

The cost to not do so is far more than the $10,000 price tag it will take to make it happen.  We have researched the type of stoves needed and with your help we can make our clean cooking dreams a reality by the end of the 2016.  Maison Fortuné will set the example for others and work to ensure the future of Haiti’s lands in the process.

Gas-cooking-Picture4The Need

We are seeking 10 people to give $1000 each to reach our goal but any amount you choose to give towards our clean gas cooking appeal will be appreciated.

You Can Make a Difference

We hope you will consider an online gift or you can send your check directly to:

Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation
PO BOX 3092
Chesapeake, VA 23327

Maison FortuneA Call for Change – A Move to Clean Gas Cooking
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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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2016 Tap! Tap! Festival

Tap-Tap-2015-photoChesapeake, Virginia’s First Beer Festival is back for a second year! Located at Greenbrier Farms, August 27th 2pm-7pm, this craft beer festival supports Maison Fortuné. For your ticket you get unlimited free samples of over 30 craft beers. Plus there will be food available for sale from your favorite local food trucks. Entertainment by Anthony Rosano and Seth Stainback & Roosterfoot.

Purchase a growler or bring your own to buy a refill of your favorite beer. Please note that all growlers must be empty before leaving the festival. If you just want a pint of beer, we will have those available to purchase too. Tap! Tap! has a great variety on TAP for you to sample and then purchase a larger portion. Of course all the samples are free, all festival long!

You can bring your own lawn chairs, snacks and non-alchoholic beverages to Tap! Tap! All coolers will be subject to inspection.

Learn more and purchase your tickets online at!

Maison Fortune2016 Tap! Tap! Festival
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Girls Campus – Power Generation

Thanks to your generosity, the Girls Campus now has power!

The Project:
Girls Campus – Power Generation – Cost $12,000

projects-girls-campus_smlOur girls are facing some difficulties with the electricity on the campus. They can spend up to 2 days with no power. When they have power they use it to run the water pump to get water from their well.

Maison FortunéGirls Campus – Power Generation
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Virginia Venturing crew starts Scout unit at orphanage in Haiti

Here’s a great article from Scouting Magazine on a service-minded Venturing Crew from Chesapeake, Virginia.  You can read the full article, here.

Things were a little different the second time Hannah Wheaton visited Haiti.

In her first trip, in 2014, Hannah visited Haiti with a grand but complicated idea for a service project: Her Venturing crew wanted to start a Scout unit at a Haitian orphanage.

Back then it was just an idea, but in Hannah’s return visit last month, she could tell right away that her crew’s hard work had paid off.

When she arrived at the Port-au-Prince airport wearing the red-and-blue Haitian Scout neckerchief, complete strangers greeted her saying “Scout, Scout” (pronounced there like “scoot, scoot”).

Read the full article…

Maison FortuneVirginia Venturing crew starts Scout unit at orphanage in Haiti
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