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Story of Light: Meet Peter






You are the light for the children this holiday season, and every season.



Meet Peter.

Peter grew up with 6 other siblings under the care of his mother. A single parent with very little education, Peter’s mother is illiterate and struggled to find profitable work. During mango and avocado seasons, she trades produce at the local market, bringing in a meager 50 gourdes per day – that’s less than US$1.

In a country where education is not free, many Haitians cannot afford to go to school. Only about 60% of the Haitian population is literate, and an average Haitian, age 25 and older, has only 5 years of schooling. Without a basic education, finding a stable, profitable job is even more difficult.

Living under the international (US$1.90/day) and national extreme poverty lines (US$1.23/day), it is difficult for a single individual to survive. Supporting another 6 people, Peter’s mother could barely afford to keep her children fed.

This is why Peter’s mother brought him to Pwoje Espwa in February 2010 – so that he may have access to consistent care and the quality education she never had the opportunity to receive.

Now 16-years-old, Peter has made tremendous progress academically and developmentally. He is in Secondary I at Pwoje Espwa, where his teachers claim he is on the road to an exceptional school career. Social workers, teachers and staff members describe him as having extreme motivation and ambition – a prominent actor in his own life.

Peter dreams big. “Every time I go to sleep, I always take a few minutes to think about my future. I really love medicine. I feel like it will give me the opportunity to do what I want to do most in the world: helping others, especially those who are less fortunate than me.”

“The socio-economic conditions of my family are very difficult,” Peter says. “If I were at home, I may not have reached where I am today. But with the help of Pwoje Espwa, I feel I am on a good path.”

In 2 years, Peter will enter the Transition Program, where he will be able to attend 2 years of vocational school with the continued guidance of psychosocial staff and financial support from Pwoje Espwa. He will have the opportunity to pursue his dreams, and live a life of dignity.


Share God’s light and blessings with the children at Pwoje Espwa this holiday season. Yours is a gift that keeps on giving when you provide opportunities to grow and thrive. 

Light a Candle of Care.


Be the Light for Nèhèmie

This advent season, we are reminded of the overwhelming generosity of our donors who have shared God’s love and light with hundreds of kids like Nèhèmie at Pwoje Espwa for the last 20 years. 

You can be a hand in sharing His light when you light a Candle of Care and make a promise that the basic, essential needs of the 250 children at Pwoje Espwa Sud will be covered every day.

Be the light – Make a gift today

Meet Nèhèmie.

January 12, 2010 began as a relatively normal day for Nèhèmie. The daughter of separated parents, she was spending a few days with her father. Her mother and sister were located on the other side of the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

Amidst the screams piercing the clouds of dust that climbed from the hundreds of toppled hospitals, government buildings, schools, and homes, at 5-years-old Nèhèmie would never see her mother or sister again.

Nèhèmie’s father brought her to one of the hundreds of emergency shelters that appeared in the aftermath of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that catapulted Haiti into an ever-deepening devastation. Nèhèmie does not remember seeing her father again.

For the next 4 years, Nèhèmie would move from temporary care with one distant family member to another. Her uncle brought her to her grandmother after she got into a fight with another girl at the age of 8. When her grandmother died suddenly, she ended up in Les Cayes with an adoptive aunt.

Her aunt earned a living selling imported chicken, but the meager profits did not allow her to take care of her own family, let alone a young girl she barely knew. Remembering a friend worked for an organization supporting vulnerable children, she reached out to a staff member. In September 2014, Nèhèmie was welcomed to Pwoje Espwa Sud.

Now 13-years-old, Nèhèmie is a friendly and respectful member of the Espwa family.

  • She has a stable, comfortable place to sleep.
  • She knows she will receive 3 nutritious meals every day.
  • She loves to play soccer with her friends, and she holds strong relationships with her house monitors, teachers and other staff members on campus.
  • She goes to class every week day, where her mind wanders to dreams of her future. She hopes to become a nurse, so she can help those who suffer. 

Nèhèmie carries the weight of painful past, but the hope and stability she has found at Pwoje Espwa relieves some of that burden from her shoulders.



Because the 5 basic areas of care are covered – food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care – the weight of her past and day-to-day survival do not keep her from pursuing the opportunity of a successful future.



This advent season, you can support a child like Nèhèmie.

Every child deserves the opportunity to a happy, healthy life. We rely on gifts like yours for each Candle of Care to stay lit throughout the year.



Healthy lunches for healthy minds on #GivingTuesday!

#GivingTuesday: Healthy Lunch = Healthy Minds

On November 27th, Free the Kids is participating in the global #GivingTuesday movement to support students who attend school at our Pwoje Espwa and Camp Perrin campuses – and we need your help!

#GivingTuesday is an annual event, held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, that harnesses the power, love and generosity of people, communities and organizations all over the world in the spirit of philanthropy and the holiday season. 

This year, our goal is to raise $10,000 in 24 hours to provide 1 month of school lunches for 950 students.  

Providing a nutritious meal for a child is easy this #GivingTuesday.

                            Donate Online!                 Text “GivingEspwa” to 44321




What does a free meal a day mean for a child’s education and future in Haiti? 

What is #GivingTuesday?

Harness the power of your community!Create your own personal fundraising page to support the children at Pwoje Espwa this holiday giving season


World Teachers’ Day: Introducing Our Staff

October 5th is observed by the United Nations as World Teachers’ Day. Join us in celebrating the teachers and school administrators at Pwoje Espwa!

What is World Teachers’ Day? The first World Teacher’s Day event was held in 1994 by the United Nations to commemorate the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which is a standard-setting instrument addressing the status and situations of teachers around the world.

The World Teachers’ Day conference continues to be held every October 5th by UNESCO to celebrate educators around the world and provide an opportunity to discuss issues related to teachers and teaching.

This year’s theme isThe right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.”

While we appreciate all of the qualified teachers that serve at Pwoje Espwa, we would like to introduce our three new school administrators joining us this year!

Left to right: M. Mikene, Secondary Principal; Sixtina, School Admin; M. Brevil, Primary/K Principal

Lisols Brevil – Primary School Principal

Mr. Brevil is a dynamic, proactive and creative educator and has extensive experience working in education and for other international non-profits with programs in Haiti, including Concern Worldwide and Project Concern International. With a university degree in Educational Sciences and certifications in Humanitarian Intervention and the Protection of the Rights of Children, Mr. Brevil has a sound knowledge of child development and education, backed by his experiences in education, social work, community mobilization and development.

As the Primary School Director, Mr. Brevil oversees pre-kindergarten through 6th grades, supervising its 20 teachers and directing the successful implementation of school programs and policies.


Simillien Mikene – Secondary School Principal

Mr. Mikene holds university degrees in teaching and education, and has extensive experience teaching biology and chemistry at the university level. His professional experiences include serving as director of Notre Dame de Lourdes College in Cavaillon, serving as professor of Educational Reform, Approach and Assessment at the Public University of Southern Haiti, heading the MEXPROTEC Program at the Universidad Tecnologica de Altamira, as well as speaking at various seminars on educational reform, research methodology, academic planning, and other teaching and administrative skills.

As the Secondary School Principal, Mr. Mikene oversees grades 7th through Secondary III, supervising its 38 teachers and directing secondary school programs and policies.


Gauthier Sixtina – School Administrator

Ms. Sixtina is a bubbly and upbeat woman assisting Mr. Brevil with his responsibilities overseeing the primary school. She has a university degree in Administration, Planning and Financing Development and has broad administrative experience.


Having an Education Team that is qualified, motivated and passionate about our mission means we can fulfill the right to an education for our 1,200 students.

Teachers, and the educations and minds they shape, enable children and adults of all ages to learn to take part in and contribute to their local community and global society. THANK YOU to all of the educators that serve at Pwoje Espwa and help us fulfill our mission everyday!


Primary School

 Secondary School



Did you know?

About 59% of the population of Haiti lives below the national poverty line of US$2.41 per day. About 24% fall below the national extreme poverty line of US$1.23 per day.

When daily needs are unaffordable, we have an opportunity to provide a stable space of comfort and encouragement in our classrooms when the rest of life feels unpredictable.


After-School Program Begins on Campus

Creating Productive Spaces

Activities and productive spaces outside of the classroom are essential for development in children and young adults. Research shows that participation in after-school programs can boost academic performance, reduce risky behaviors, promote physical health, and provide a structured environment for children during their free hours. This is especially critical for children from vulnerable and unstable backgrounds.

This year, our staff at Pwoje Espwa has been working diligently to update our After-School Program for the children who find home at PES.

As we have expanded our staff of qualified social workers and school administrators, our team is working diligently to build an enrichment program that ensures all children have access to growing and learning spaces that are positive, safe and accessible.

The After-School Program will have 4 areas of concentration:

Life skills Kids will learn skills that are necessary for independent living, including cooking, how to manage a budget, how to live a healthy lifestyle, among many others. Vocational / job training – Kids will have the opportunity to focus on a vocational skill in addition to cultivating skills necessary to find a job, like writing a resume. Also offered will be on-campus internships in several departments for 14-18 year olds. Those interested would have the opportunity to apply for a limited number of positions across campus and would receive a small gratification.
Psychosocial This area will include a range of enrichment activities, including art, dance, sports, and the like. These activities will be a fun outlet for the kids while still providing a structure within which they will learn lessons on respect, communication, and teamwork. Community service Kids will learn the importance of giving back to others through various community service projects within the Espwa and surrounding community.

While many aspects of the After-School Program are still “under construction” as our social workers continue to create the most fruitful and successful enrichment models and activities, the program kicked off two weeks ago with after-school study hall hours.






For primary grades, study hall has commenced and gives the opportunity to extend our students’ learning. The students meet Monday through Thursday from 3-5pm.

House monitors provide supervision and assistance in the classroom as the students spend time completing homework and learning with one another. Instead of free time in the villages where it may be more difficult for house monitors to bring kids together to do their work, the classroom environment provides a structured time period for the children to focus on their assignments without the distraction of the villages.


Clifford Charles, a social worker at PES, works with our students as a child development professional. “Study hall brings better results for kids,” says Mr. Charles. “In the past, kids didn’t always have a good space or structure to study. Now they have house moms, social workers, and other adults to help guide their learning.


We can’t wait to see their growth throughout the school year!


Over the fall and winter terms, new components of the program will be introduced. Stay tuned for updates on the After-School Program!


Almost 400 Served at Labor Day Dental Clinic

Doctor Chuck Tozzer’s Dental Care for Children mobile clinic swept into Les Cayes Haiti over the Labor Day weekend to hold a clinic for Espwa children and families and the surrounding community.

Dr. T’s team served 269 Espwa resident children and staff and another 128 from the community including staff families. All told his dental “A-Team” saw 397 people in 2-1/2 days (breaking the old record by 50 patients).

That’s amazing!!!

His team provided more than $200,000 in dental services to those who have very little means to receive these services.

DCFC is truly doing God’s work in Haiti!!!



We thank you Dr. T for your dedication and care for Espwa children and local families!




Godspeed on your continued service to the most vulnerable in Haiti, Mexico, and other countries throughout the world!


Back to School at PES!

Back to school at Pwoje Espwa Sud means an education for 1,200 children living in extreme poverty.


We believe every child has the right to an education and the ability to learn without limitations. Including our friend Madeline. 

This is Madeline.

She is 11 years old and entering the 4th grade at Pwoje Espwa this year. One day, she dreams of becoming an intelligent and strong policewoman.

…But Madeline needs your help to realize her dream.


We need YOUR help to supply Madeline and other children with school supplies, backpacks, and uniforms they need to receive a quality education in Haiti.

Provide these essential materials for a child

by making donation today.



An education is one of the most prized possessions for a child in Haiti.

In a country where the average Haitian, age 25 or older, has completed only 5 years of schooling, simple things keep kids at home or prevent schools from providing the resources needed to learn.


Inability to afford the laundry list of costs to attend public school,

the need for another set of working hands to support the family,

schools being overcapacity, underfunded and lacking basic materials to teach and learn…

…These are burdens a child should never have to worry about.



YOU can help us overcome these limitations by

supporting a sustainable learning environment. 

Support sustainable learning.



Supply a child like Madeline with school materials this year!





Learn more about our Education Programs and how we provide children with the education and support needed to overcome the limitations of poverty.


Celebrating Our University Students

In a country where approximately 50% of children are unable to attend school, education is regarded as a key to a successful future for young adults in Haiti. Free the Kids proudly supports our intellectually gifted and talented students beyond their time at Pwoje Espwa Sud through our University Program.


The University Program provides financial support for young adults who have demonstrated excellence in the academic field. Those students who perform above and beyond expectations and would like to continue on a university path can apply through Free the Kids for financial support an opportunity that is only possible through the investment of our donors.


Meet our students!


This year, four students have graduated from their respective programs with the assistance of our university program.

Meet our newly-decorated graduates:

John Baker Laguerre

Business Administration

John Baker graduated in January 2018 from BTI University with a degree in Business Administration. Since graduating, he has returned to support Pwoje Espwa Sud by working part-time in the Secondary School Office.

Fenel Thercidor

Business Administration

Fenel graduated in January 2018 from BTI University with a degree in Business Administration. He currently serves as Staff Accountant full-time in the Finance Office at Pwoje Espwa Sud.


Mackenson Miliste


Miliste recently graduated in May 2018 from Universite de la Fondation Dr. Aristide with a degree in Law. For the next two years, he will be completing an internship before he can take the official exam to become a lawyer.

Beetcherly Senat


Senat recently graduated from the Universite Nortre Dame d’Haiti with a degree in Agronomy. While he completes his thesis, he has been assisting the Project Manager with various tasks and projects on campus


Current Students

Several universities across Haiti offer degree programs for students looking to advance their education and widen their job opportunities. Free the Kids currently supports the ongoing studies of two students who have found programs in their areas of interest.

Meet our dedicated students striving for their degrees:

Claude Charles

Business Administration

Claude is currently a student at the American University of the Caribbean where he is working towards his degree in Business Administration. While attending classes in the afternoons and evenings, he is also working full-time in the Finance Office at PES where he is in charge of inventory. 

Joseph Roosmand

Civil Engineering

Roosmand is currently a student at the American University of the Caribbean where he is working towards his degree in Civil Engineering. During the day he works with our Project Manager on various assignments around campus while attending school in the afternoons and evenings.

Additionally, there are several students that have taken their academic studies new distances as they study abroad. We currently have five students studying at various universities in the Dominican Republic and the United States.

Placide Woodlin will be entering his final year in the United States studying Business at Northwest University and competing on the university’s soccer team.

Patrick Carrier will be in his final year at Clark College in Vancouver, WA where he is completing his undergraduate degree.

Kens Buteau will be in his third year of university at Bellmont Abbey College in the United States where he will be completing his degree and playing for the soccer team.

Julnor Elius is in the Dominican Republic studying Medicine at the Universidad Tecnologica de Santiago.

Dieufaite Hiliare is in the Dominican Republic studying Business Administration at the Universidad Tecnologica de Santiago.

Spotlight: Entering Students

As we continue to support those students who have been working diligently towards their hopeful futures, we’d like to take this time to welcome three new students into the university program this year!

Laurent Ronique


Laurent is an incredibly intelligent and gifted young man who will be entering the university program to study Engineering at Valporaiso University in the United States. He can be found around campus leading creative arts and crafts activities with small groups of kids, strumming his guitar, or in a quiet space studying.

With a degree in engineering, Laurent hopes to return to Haiti to help those who do not have houses. “I dream of the opportunity to help others the way Espwa has helped me,” Laurent says humbly. His vision while he in in the U.S. includes creating a 3D printer that utilizes trash and plastic to construct homes for those who do not have a place to sleep. Laurent will be the first member of his family to finish school. “I am proud of the work, activities, and effort I have given.”

Jn Erice Desir


A warm and calming presence with the biggest smile to share, Jn Erice will be entering the university program to study theology to fulfill his dream of becoming a priest. Jn Erice has worked closely with the young children at PES as a 

part of the liturgy team, helping to guide them in their faith journeys and guiding their voices in the chorale every Sunday.

Jn Erice wants to become a priest in large part because of the support he has felt from Father Marc and the liturgy team at PES. He feels God has called on him to undertake this new mission, and hopes to return to Espwa upon completing his studies to serve as a priest at Sunday mass and a spiritual leader for the children.

Jn Erice is currently a staff member for the summer camp program, where he is leading kids ages 3 through 14 in spiritual formation discussions and chorale practice. In between the sometimes-off-key sing-screams of the younger ones while practicing for the upcoming service, Jn Erice encourages the kids to reflect on the camp’s theme of the week. His passion is engaging, his patience unfailing, and the kids’ respect for him as an older brother figure and leader unquestionable. 

Roselinda Placide

Business Administration

As the first young woman to enter the university program, it is fitting that Roselinda is fiercely courageous and driven. Roselinda will begin university this fall, studyingBusiness Administration at UPSAC.

She will also begin to work in the Human Resources Office at Pwoje Espwa Sud, where she has been offered an opportunity to intern. As an intern, she will gain valuable experience observing and learning the multitude of skills needed to operate an organization.


Join us in congratulating our students who have graduated, supporting those who are continuing their academic journeys, and welcoming those who will commence their university studies this year.

Thank you for making it all possible.


The impact of an education doesn’t stop at one individual. It ripples, extends, and reaches, touching the lives of individuals, families, and communities. It is our deepest hope that our university program endures so that we may continue to support our students’ passions and see their lights stretch boundlessly.

Free the Kids would not be able to provide these educational opportunities to our young scholar leaders without the generosity of our donors. Because of you, Laurent can continue to drive towards excellence. Because of you, Jn Erice can embark on his spiritual journey in order to serve and support others. Because of you, our students can grasp the key to a successful future and experience the overwhelming pride of being presented a university degree. 

Thank you for your unremitting investment in the future of the children and young adults who find home at Pwoje Espwa Sud. Together, we are supporting the generations of future leaders of Haiti.



Espwa Safe Despite Unrest

Posted – July 11, 2018 – I’ve received several phone calls and emails this week regarding the desperate situation in Haiti. Starting with the government’s announcement of fuel price increases (by 40-50%) on Friday, the country has been racked by violence, looting and riots. The government temporarily rescinded price hikes this weekend, but now there are calls for President Moïse to step down. This creates uncertainty and an environment in which random violence can flare up anywhere.

Thankfully, we currently have no visitors in country. Our children and the staff are safe within our compound, now surrounded by a 14-foot wall (new addition this Spring!). We’ve topped off fuel, water and supplies. Operations continue.

Although both the US and Canadian Embassies are currently recommending NO TRAVEL, it is too early for those traveling this Fall and Winter to make a final decision. Please watch the US State Dept. Travel site or the similar Canadian site for emerging details. Talk with us prior to making your final decision.


Please click on this link to donate to our security wall project.


Message from Frank Irr, Executive Director

Read a message from Free the Kids Executive Director, Frank Irr



I fell in love with Espwa during my first visit last year. Hard to put into words, but there was a real "heart" connection with the kids and staff. It is a special place. My visit was focused primarily on the girls and the teachers. Relationships were initiated during that first visit that I treasure very much!

- Maria Simeone

There is hardly a more heartbreaking sight than seeing an orphan in Haiti--many of them who have families who simply cannot feed and clothe them. Of course there is the emotional response to their plight, but there is a more pragmatic hope--that given a chance in a loving, caring environment, these children can grow up to be leaders, people who can move their communities and the country itself in a positive, healthy direction.

- Jackie Wilson

This place is amazing! The kids and their caregivers will restore your faith in the human spirit. The magic of Espwa is that there is a childhood provided for the kids there that would not exist otherwise.Haiti has a very very long way to go, but this is a hopeful place with clean, well fed, happy children, teachers, house moms, and support staff. Fr Marc and all of the others should be very proud of their accomplishments. Help them in any way that you can!

- Kerri McDonough Croland
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