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Shoes Campaign Yields Over 1000 Pairs

A hearty “Thank You” to those who responded to our request for funds to purchase shoes for our children.  Over an overwhelming success, over 1000 shoes were funded.

Just over 500 shoes were funded through Because International’s Shoes That Grow Program.  An additional 500 shoes and counting have been funded through several fundraisers in NJ and WI, and by several private donors throughout the US.

Shoes will be provided to Espwa residents, students at Espwa and Camp-Perrin schools, and children in the surrounding community.  Specialty shoes such as boots and saddles will also be distributed as needed.

Shoes take up a significant portion offer budget each year.  Your generosity will help us meet a large part of this need thorough 2018.  God Bless all of you who participated in this special campaign!!!


Move-in Day Approaching

Moving Day is fast approaching for the Young Boys. Within days of Thanksgiving we will bless the new dome homes and begin to occupy the Young Boys neighborhood. Children from ages 2-11 will be among the first occupants of these new sturdy, weatherproof homes. The area is comprised of seven dome homes and a single sanitation dome (dark grey in this picture) with new toilets, a hand wash station and showers.

The rainy weather has given our construction crews fits since mid-Summer; it has not let up one bit. As we started putting the finishing touches on the inside construction, we beg an painting the domes. We need three days of sunny weather for the roofs, walls and floors to dry out enough for paint to adhere. Since July have had very few days without rain. However, as you can see, we’ve soldiered on and are near completion.

The domes feature an inside sink with running water, led skylights, and a floor drain for cleaning. Screened windows on the sides and a copula at the top provide convection for heat removal making the domes very comfortable even during the hottest parts of the year. We will start installing a walking path between domes and landscaping the yard this week.  In the figure, Young Boys Domes on the left; girls on the right.In the Teen neighborhood we have been able to erect 8 domes. Construction is progressing, having completed the outside shell of all but one dome (no roof). After putting the roof on the final dome we will start building rooms inside for housemothers. 

We hope to complete the Teen Dome project soon after the first of the year. To keep restless hands busy after school we will build recreational facilities in both areas. We will add a soccer field and volleyball court to the existing basketball court for teens and a playground for young boys. this photo shows domes under construction.

The dome design has been so successful that we are building a bathroom dome on our school campus. Kindergarteners, for instance, can now be taught the importance of proper hygiene and cleanliness, especially the value of hand washing.  The photo below shows positioning of the domes in the existing village.


Earthquake Victim Excels at Espwa

The devastating earthquake of 2010 rocked Julio’s world. Living in Port-au-Prince at the time, his family lost everything including their home. Julio’s mother wanted the best for his sister and him, so she arranged for them to be sent to Les Cayes to go to school at Pwojè Espwa.  They joined several hundred others at the time who were sent from Port-au-Prince with the hope of starting over.

Julio and his younger sister are growing up at Espwa

With no father at home Julio’s mother, a street merchant, bought and sold goods to make a merger living.  She did not however make enough money to provide food, clothing, shelter and education for Julio and his sister.  So as many of the earthquake victims returned home to Port-au-Prince months later, Julio and his sister remained in Les Cayes.  

Now, seven years later, Julio is about to start secondary school at Pwojè Espwa. He is at the top of his class academically, and serves as a role model to younger and newer Espwa residents. Julio is a recognized dancer, singer, and is working hard to become fluent in English. 

The hope that Espwa has brought Julio and his sister is priceless. Through the hands of the housemothers, teachers, visitors, and staff, Julio has been molded into the promising young adult. As this school year begins, Julio would like to say “Thank you” to the many hearts that have helped to lift him up when he thought his world was over.
You can continue to make a difference for children like Julio at Pwoje Espwa. Please consider a sponsorship or monthly donation to help meet their basic needs of food, clothing medical care and education.



Irma & Maria Spare Espwa, Les Cayes Area

UPDATE: Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico on September 19th, but again skirted past Haiti. Continue to pray for those in Puerto Rico who have lost their lives, their homes, animals and everything they own.


On September 7th Irma passed Haiti.  It mercifully spared our location in southern Haiti from another devastating outcome.  The storm pummeled northern Hispaniola Thursday evening through Friday morning, but left no appreciable damage, according to reports.  Heavy rains add the danger of mudslides and flooding.  

Parts of Port-au-Prince, such as Cite Soleil, are already flooded.  One of our Transition Kids lives there.

Despite the near-miss, your Espwa team was well-prepared.  They secured facilities, prepositioned food and building supplies, and evacuated our children to more secure locations. 


Because the Haitian government does not have a widespread organized way of notifying people of danger, our Espwa Youth Outreach team of 17 Transition program (PROJA) volunteers started handing out flyers that described ways to prepare for/survive a hurricane and what to do in its aftermath. We provided an extra food distribution to the local community and to minimum wage employees.

Finally,our staff participated in UN-facilitated cluster meetings with local NGOs to ensure awareness of each others’ capabilities. The Red Cross and other local humanitarian aid services attended these meetings to learn more about the approaching storm and discuss ways to prevent cholera outbreaks in the community.


Your continued support will ensure we are able to help Haiti’s most vulnerable.

Please consider an extra donation to Free the Kids to continue this great work!


Dome Home Construction Begins

Young Boys Neighborhood to Provide Safe,
Secure Living for Growing Boys

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, and all of the destruction it brought to our community in Haiti, Free the Kids committed to providing safe and secure housing for the youngest children of Pwoje Espwa. Now, we have the funding we need to complete this important work.

We’ve been quite busy. In January we completed the Espwa master plan, developed dome home architectural drawings and entertained a site visit from our construction partner to finalize the design. 

We broke ground late February on the first of two dome home locations–a young boys neighborhood.  The young boys site is located adjacent to the girls dome neighborhood and will house boys, ages 2 – 12. See our master plan drawing above; the girls’ neighborhood is on the left; boys on the right.

Thanks to the generous response from our donors, we have recently
achieved our campaign goal for these homes!


Despite torrential rains we’ve experienced during the past two months, we’ve been able to continue infrastructure work and raise walls for each dome.  Infrastructure includes water, electrical, septic systems, drainage, a wall and the foundations.  Further construction awaits the air forms, which are used to build the roof for these structures and give these homes their dome shape. 

Each dome will provide living space for up to 20 boys and a house mother (separate room).

A wall has been erected to protect the children and a security guard will man each neighborhood 24/7. 

One of the most exciting features of this new community is that it features play and art space for the children! This gives them a place to play and create under the supervision of house mothers–an opportunity for fun and exploration that all kids need to develop.

The project is being overseen by Cameron Parker. Cameron is an amazing talent serving as our agronomist, landscape architect, master planner and project manager. He is responsible for overseeing all of the rebuilding and construction projects on the ground and has built an exceptional construction management team in Haiti.





Father Marc Talks about Espwa Schools – Camp Perrin

Poverty Keeps Haitian Kids from School 

The World Bank recently reported that more than 200,000 Haitian children lack access to any form of education. 

This is partly due to the fact that 90% of Haitian schools are privately run and require tuition fees. This represents a significant barrier to entry for many children whose families cannot afford the cost of tuition, books, transport and uniforms.  

Thankfully, Espwa schools provide affordable education to over 1200 resident and non-resident kids from Southern Haiti communities.  A nominal tuition is asked for, but like many Catholic schools in the US, families that cannot pay the low tuition fees are never turned away.

Your Support Keeps Espwa Schools Affordable for All.


Click on the short video clip below to hear
Father Marc talk about
founding his first school at Camp-Perrin

Our School Lunch Programs Fight Malnutrition

Hunger and malnutrition present a big problem in both long and short-term academic performance. 


Enter Pwoje Espwa’s school lunch program!

Our program feeds each student a warm lunch every day. Studies show that comparable school lunch programs in the U.S. improved attendance, in-class focus and comprehension, higher standardized test scores and improved overall academic performance. 


Haitian children are no different than our own.  

They deserve a chance to learn and grow so that they can eventually live
independently with dignity.


Our schools are totally dependent upon your support.  
Please help us keep our schools open and thriving.


Donate today to help educate a
child in Haiti.


Spread the Joy this Holy Season

The Unconditional Kindness of Strangers

In this beautiful video sponsored by Cross Catholic Outreach, you will see the living conditions of many of our children in Les Cayes, and then experience a day of celebrations as students sang, danced and received gifts–2,400 Boxes of Joy sent from the United States.

As each child opened their boxes, smiles of gratitude shined through. Many were awed by this rare chance to receive a gift of unconditional kindness from a stranger.  Most responded by sharing their gifts with their friends and family, extending the spirit of giving even further in the community!

As we celebrate Passover and Easter this week please do not forget these children who grow up with very little opportunity. Pray for those who provide them a hand up.  And remember that your gifts can make a tremendous difference in each of their lives. 

Every day, Free the Kids and the Espwa staff bring joy and opportunity to these children. Help us keep the spirit of giving going throughout the year.

Spread the Joy!



Box of Joy Days (UPDATED)

Espwa, Camp-Perrin and Torbeck Children Celebrate 
Box of Joy Days


UPDATED: Related published videos, stories and interviews (latest at top):


We were blessed to have had 1200 kids from Espwa schools (resident and non-resident) joined by another 1200 from local community schools to participate in “Box of Joy” celebrations.

The events were made possible through our partnership with Cross Catholic Outreach.


Celebrations were held on March 16th at Torbeck, March 22nd at Camp-Perrin, and March 23rd at Pwoje Espwa.  

School children enjoyed a day of games and music, food and fun.



They also received boxes full of donated gifts such as toys, candy, school supplies, and hygiene products.

The children checking out each other’s boxes to the left are from a Camp-Perrin community school.



Girls from Camp-Perrin School take a moment to show classmates the surprises they found inside their boxes.

After school most of these children spread the joy by sharing the contents of their boxes at home with siblings and friends.



Twelve journalists and videographers joined the Cross Catholic team visit.  These national media members hope to highlight the endless needs in Haiti and the opportunities Espwa provides to each child.

To the left students and families assembled in the Espwa Dining Room await the start of the program.  They enjoyed singing, dancing and speeches from staff.

One of our little guys smiles through a cinder-blocked window at the Pre-school as a classmate looks on.  

Thanks to our many Espwa staff who carefully planned and hosted the days’ events.  


Our kids embraced this experience expressing their pure joy with staff members, our partners, the journalists and their own families.  In the end they gave more to others than they received themselves.  What a wonderful way to spread the love of God during this Lenten Season!





A ‘ray of hope’ in Haiti

Local group brings supplies, donations to struggling region

Article From The Fountain Hills Times

58acafd3e0229.imageAmid the disorganized chaos and extreme poverty in Haiti, Noon Kiwanis Club president Kenneth Brown sees a “ray of hope.”

Despite the unrelenting scarcity that he witnessed, Brown and two other local residents returned home optimistic after a four-day stay at the end of January.

Brown, associate pastor of Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church; Jack Reynolds, founder of Free the Kids charity, and Roger Bates of Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills, learned about a proposed vocational training center in Les Cayes, near Pwoje Espwa, a Creole phrase for Project Hope.

Haitian and Brazilian government officials said the objective is to contribute to the training of young professionals in civil engineering, sewing, electricity, carpentry, tourism and car and motorcycle mechanics.

Reynolds’ brother-in-law, Catholic priest Father Marc Boisvert, operates Pwoje Espwa compound, where Hurricane Matthew extensively demolished roofs, agricultural crops and infrastructure.

The hurricane destroyed three classrooms in one building, forcing a doubling up of students in the remaining structure.

Brown heads fundraising efforts to feed 350 malnourished children daily at Espwa. Funds are within $2,500 of the $30,000 goal. Noon Kiwanis awaits the status of a $10,000 application from Kiwanis International Children’s Fund, said Brown.

Brazil, one of the United Nations’ Security Force countries, plans to invest between $17 and $18 million to build a technical school.

Brazil told Haitian officials that they would build a school, dormitories and educate 3,000 children annually if the government would provide the property.

While in Haiti, Brown learned that 50 percent of the children never receive an education.

“The government had no property. The major of Les Cayes said he knew of 12 to 15 acres on the compound of Espowa where we are focused,” said Brown. “What it means is skilled labor in the part of the country. That opens the possibility of entrepreneurs coming in and starting businesses because of cheap, skilled labor.”

Brown said he believes that the project could be a major economic force within 15 years.

“In that feeling of hopelessness, I saw that bright ray of hope is focused right on Les Cayes,” said Brown.

During the six-hour, 125-mile drive from Port Au Prince, the capital city, to the western end of the peninsula, Les Cayes, the visitors were exposed to unrelenting poverty.

“Teeming masses of people are mired in squalor along that entire route. It doesn’t take long before you conclude that the situation seems hopeless,” said Brown.

“What chance do these people have of ever improving their bitter lot in life? What possible prospect do all these children in colorful uniforms marching on the shoulder of a busy highway have of living a better life than their parents? It’s all too easy to conclude that there is none.”

As a 19-year-old in the 1960s, Bates experienced the hopeless and devastation of Korea. He believes Haiti can turn around its economy in much the same way that Korea did. The Asian country convinced Hyundai to build cars there and uplifted the people from poverty.

“I hope to see something similar happen in Haiti in my lifetime,” said Bates.

Business pledges to Free the Kids for the Haitian feeding program came from Discount Tire Fountain Hills, Handy Man Now, Mountain View Thai Coffee House, Sami Fine Jewelry, Auto Research Automotive Repair, Pro Force Heating and Air Conditioning. Phil’s Filling Station, Tidy Guys, Kactus Jock, Scottsdale, and Debra Rivera, Simply Marvellous.

Brown can be contacted at or 480-268-3731. The best way to reach Reynolds is The website is



MSNBC story with Father Marc Boisvert, talk about cholera outbreak and other concerns after Hurricane Matthew

Listen to an MSNBC story with Father Marc Boisvert, Founder of Free the Kids talk about cholera outbreak and other concerns after Hurricane Matthew.

To view the story, please click here


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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