Thursday, 12 February 2015

Switching over to a new Website and Blog

Feb 2015
It has been great blogging some of our Hope House stories here, but as the project and charity grow we need to find better and clearer ways of communicating with you all. So this will be the last post here. 
For all the info on Hope House please visit 

We have launched this new website with lots more info, plus there will be regular blogs on current news and what's going on, so go check it out!

Thanks for your continued support, it means so much.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Planting Seeds, update from David Edwards

Planting seeds

This week, Yvrose took the children outside to plant seeds in the school’s new vegetable patch. First hand experiences like this are part of her vision for learning at Hope House and part of the reason why she invited me to spend a term teaching at the school. Yes, between all the trips to the beach, playing football and messing about with the kids at the house, I’ve found time to do some teaching, and a bit more besides.
The majority of my time at school is spent teaching English, and I have to say it has been great fun. Starting from scratch in many cases, and with large classes, it’s been a case of lots of games, singing and physical activity to get the children engaged and speaking the language as much as possible. Their enthusiasm has bowled me over at times and the results have been really encouraging too; I can not take 10 steps around the school now without a child wishing me ‘good morning’, or asking ‘how are you?’
Having originally trained as a TEFL teacher, it’s also been rewarding to return to the role armed with so much more experience of working with children, gained through my time as a Primary School teacher in the UK. I remember working in Italy, as a newly qualified teacher, when my weekly class with the under 10s frequently ended up with them literally running rings around me. How I would like to have another crack at that little bunch of monsters, but I guess they are not so little any more!
So, three months in Haiti has given me the opportunity to introduce the children to English in a fun and active way. But of course it won’t be for much if the lessons stop once I’ve gone. To address this, I’ve spent many of my free periods developing an English curriculum for the school, which maps out what the teachers should teach the children each week. It includes all the topics you might expect for young learners like Animals, Food and Family, as well as identifying games, songs and other activities the teachers can use to bring these topics to life.
Of course, documents like this can quickly gather dust if people don’t feel confident using them so last week, when school was closed, we held a staff workshop where I took everyone through the curriculum and we tried out many of the activities and games. It was a lively session and the teachers who attended all proved that they were well capable of giving it a go. The momentum from that session has carried on into this week as I have started ‘team teaching’ sessions with the class teachers in preparation for handing over the reins. Despite a few nerves about speaking in English in front of their classes, the lessons so far have been a great success for teachers and pupils alike.
Along similar lines, we also held a Science workshop where I took the staff through a series of simple, fun and practical activities they can do with their classes, proving that a shortage of resources is no impediment. Highlights of the day included measuring the path of shadows with a piece of chalk, filtering water with an old sock, investigating the reproductive parts of a flower, and placing blocks of ice in the shade and in the sunlight to see which would melt faster.   Once again, it was an enjoyable day, and I challenged every teacher to take just one of the activities from the day and try it with their classes.
I’ve also helped start up Music lessons with help of the fantastic Mr.Elyse who is brimming with enthusiasm. Thanks to funds raised by Bolney school, we have been able to buy a set of instruments, enough for an entire class. It has been extremely rewarding seeing children pick up a triangle or a tambourine for the first time and give it a twang! Hopefully it won’t be long before they are belting out a few familiar tunes which we can record and broadcast. This, added to the recruitment of Mr.d’Haiti, a talented artist, is hopefully another step towards a more ‘creative’ curriculum here.
Finally, Yvrose and I have been trying to develop a culture in the school based on positive values such as kindness, tolerance, happiness and politeness. Children from Bolney may recognize these words because they appear on the school’s Values Tree. Well, here at Hope House we have been creating an ‘Arbre de Valuers’ of our own, painted by a talented missionary called Lisa, from Burgess Hill.  We’ve also introduced another ingredient of the Bolney success story: a Celebration Assembly every other Friday where we have encouraged the staff to pick out children for special praise. Part of my role has been to explain all these changes to the staff and encourage them to model these values. In that sense, I’ve also acted as a role model, showing staff how it is possible to build a positive relationship with students based on respect, praise, and encouragement instead of the traditional authoritarian approach.
Of course, changing the culture of a school doesn’t happen overnight, especially when it is rooted in the traditions of a country’s education system. Teachers are viewed as the ‘sage on the stage’ in Haiti, while the students are empty vessels whose job it is to copy down from the board unquestioningly and learn by rote. However, with Yvrose’s support and encouragement, I think I have planted a few seeds here too. What they need now is nurturing, both by the staff who work here and by those who will me here from the UK, the US and elsewhere. So perhaps I should end this particular post by saying that if you are interested in coming and working at Hope House, please get in touch! It’s been a privilege to work here at Hope House during this exciting time in its development and I look forward to seeing more and more green shoots emerge in the months and years ahead.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Dear Supporters, 

Our old 5 seater car has really had a busy life and has served us well. Sadly it is on it's last legs and spends more days at the car mechanics than it does with us! When we need to pick up rice to feed the school, get food, propane gas etc we have to borrow someone else's pick up. This often results in the borrowed truck breaking down and then we have to pay also to get this also fixed. So we are launching our 2014 appeal to raise funds for a new (and reliable!) truck. We'd like to tell you a bit about why a truck is so important to us at Hope House, Haiti...

The Farm //
Our Farm, once a dream, is really developing. We are so thankful to God for entrusting the animals and chickens to us, helping us to become more sustainable.  For any of you who have not visited us, we live in quite a remote area and it requires driving almost an hour over rough terrain to get most of the basic needs.  

In addition, our cows are also back on our base as we needed to make sure they were cared for properly. The cows provide much needed milk for the children in the house, but we don't have any vegetation for them to eat on the school grounds. However, there is an opportunity to collect free waste vegetation from the market, but we cannot do this without our own transport. We have also got our second batch of 800  baby chickens which will need to be transported to market when they have grown, again, this is almost impossible without proper transport to do so.

As you can see, the need for a reliable diesel pick up truck is  now an urgent priority. Another bonus of a pick up means that we can sanitise the back of the truck for the various farming purposes enabling us to clean it and use it for transporting the kids, those who come out to serve us and take sick people to the hospital when required.

We are delighted that as we launch this campaign we have just received confirmation that we have been granted UK charity status, which means we can now claim gift aid on all donations from tax payers as well.

If you would like to help us by contributing towards our work and specifically to the truck appeal, you can donate online via our website which has a Paypal button, or you can contact us for bank transfer details. 

We are so grateful for your prayer and support in meeting our needs. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Start up Business for Celicia

Celicia with her brothers

Celicia came to see her brothers Jilbert and Wilner in November 2010 right about the time I was praying for someone to come and help because I had 17 children to care for, with only Pierre Richard to help me!  Celicia arrived and said that she would take the job. What an answer to prayer.

She  was a faithful maid, but she later decided that she didn't want to be paid, instead she wanted to be our daughter. From a faithful servant to a faithful daughter. 

She was an innocent girl who believed in Santa for the first two years she was with us! 

Celicia is 23 years old and is in 5th grade. She asked to have a business selling candies and cookies so we helped her start up the business. She is now selling the produce in school. Since as a family we help each other, Vanessa one of the older girls is helping her with the business while Celicia  goes to school. It is so good to see Celicia's  confidence grow as she has started her own business. 

A dream is becoming a reality...


Thursday, 13 June 2013

Hope House Haiti (UK) is launched!

Our wonderful banner donated by local printers 'Forest Litho'
What a wonderful afternoon we have had! This afternoon the UK charity was launched at Bolney School, with Yvrose present, the local press turning up to take photos and what's more the rain held off and we had fun in the sunshine!

It's so exciting to have Yvrose here with us and what an amazing testimony she gave at school today, I think most of the women in the room were in tears! She told us a bit about her background and how the orphanage and school were begun. She shared how difficult it can be, especially to see the children going without. I think the most moving thing was when she talked about children having to go to bed hungry and upset because they haven't eaten and how heartbreaking that is.

But she also talked about God's amazing provision and how he showed her where he wanted her and Pierre Richard to be, and how he provides for their needs.

Yvrose talking in school
It was wonderful that the Chair of governors spoke also, and he shared how important it is for us to recognise all that we have and how we can help and bless others who are far less fortunate. The Head of the school also talked about how it was a privilege to have Yvrose with them this week and how much the children had learnt from her.

The children sang two songs in creole which Yvrose had taught them just the day before and they sang with such joy, it was great to see them really enjoying it! Then two of the boys played the Haitian National Anthem and outside the flag was raised.

Afterwards there were cream teas and refreshments organised by the amazing school PTA and the older children had organised games stalls to raise money. There was a wonderful atmosphere and lots of buzz, people talking about Hope House and how inspiration Yvrose is. A fantastic afternoon all round.

So we are official! There's a few bits to sort out before we can include a 'donate' button on here (!) but we do have a website at so do check it out!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Importance of Shoes...

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News...

My husbands grandfather Percy was one of 9 boys. The family could not afford to buy shoes for all the boys so they shared a few pairs between them. Taking it in turns to go to school to be educated only when they were wearing the shoes.  That is what happened in England 90 years ago.

On my recent trip to Haiti I discovered the importance of shoes. The terrain is rough,  walking  in flip flops is a dangerous occupation. But many of the children in the community near Hope House do not possess shoes, and if they do they will be ill fitting. Pride in appearance is very important, this means polishing the dust off each day with your finger.   

When at Hope Academy school in Haiti one day I asked could I see a boy whom I had met the previous year. This boy is important in my family. You see my eldest son made a Friendship Bracelet and attached his name the previous year. As I was distributing the 300 bracelets this boy asked me to say the name printed on his bracelet. I could hardly believe it, it was my sons name. So he wrote his name on the back, I photographed him and his name: Ledmond.

We didn't know much about this boy and he has no idea what an impact he has had on our  family, but he has been faithfully remembered and prayed for by my son.  I was under instruction to get an up to date photo of Ledmond this year. I asked the teachers could I see him but he wasn't there. I wasn't quite expecting the reply: "He can not come to school because he has no shoes! " He missed out on the special treats that day, (though I entrusted some supplies to the teacher). It broke my heart, I had to walk away and gather my composure and wipe away my tears. 

When I returned to England  my son wanted to do something about Ledmond's  situation. He sent a photograph of himself and a letter, and enough money for a pair of school shoes to be purchased for Ledmond. As adults it's very easy to make choices, but I want to teach my kids to be compassionate themselves. 
Children have power within their hands to make a difference. What can you inspire your kids to do...? 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Introduction to Anipiye!

It's always great to have people who are willing to sacrifice their time and come serve at Hope House.  Today's post is from Katheryn Meyer an American girl who spent several months with us...

These were my first impressions of Haiti when I arrived there for the first time on March 20, 2012.  My host American family were not able to fly in with me as originally planned, because their connecting flight was cancelled  due to bad weather.  There was only one small problem with that; I didn’t have a street address to put on my customs form.  The customs officer was very displeased with this!  “Madam, is very important to have address before entering the country.  Go to immigration and they help you get the address.”  He waved me over to the immigration office with my carry-ons.  (I still had not collected my baggage at this point.)  
I went over there and sat down inside with my big floppy white hat, to wait until someone could help me.  There were several of us sitting there.  I had Yvrose’s number as well as a few other people’s so I knew I could get the address.  Shortly afterwards the lady at the desk called me over and I explained my dilemma.  But it wasn’t too long before someone came in to get me and bring me to Yvrose.  He had a blue security shirt and looked like an officer.  Anybody will tell you that your party sent them to meet you, because they want money, but somehow I knew this fellow was telling the truth.  I had to leave my passport and carry-ons in the immigration office to go with him.  (I should have grabbed my backpack at least on the way out - future travelers, take note!)

So, Mr. Security Guy grabs my arm and takes me through the mob to the end of a long white tent archway to where Yvrose was waiting!  Thank goodness for my floppy white hat.  I had told Bill and Janet Montgomery I would be wearing it and they told Yvrose, and that’s what she told Mr. Security Guy to look for!

Yvrose hugged me and greeted me and came back to the immigration office, writing somebody’s address on my form as we walked.  (I still have no idea what address it was.)  Mrs. Immigration Lady stamped my passport and I grabbed my carry-ons—minus $40, as I found out a few minutes later, in the truck when I checked everything.  Yvrose said the immigration lady looked very uncomfortable when we returned to the office with the address.

Yvrose helped me look through the piles of luggage for my suitcase and duffel bag.  Then back we went through the mob to where Yvrose’s husband Pierre Richard and Mr. Security Guy were waiting.  (Mr. Security Guy is a Pastor in Cite Soleil and he also works at the airport.)

The truck needed to be push-started as usual, then we were on our way.  Traffic through Port-au-Prince was horrendous.  “It usually takes forty-five minutes to get to Fonds-Parisien,” said Yvrose, shaking her head at the unusually slow-moving traffic.

“If we were in the Sates I would say it was rush hour.  Do they have rush hour here?” I asked.  That made her laugh and she agreed that rush hour must not have national boundaries!

At this point I was able to call Daddy and Mama on Yvrose’s phone and let them know I made it.

Through Croix des Bouquets and beyond, then Fonds-Parisien and Bill and Janet’s leased home overlooking Lac Azuei!  (Lake Azuei)  Their three Haitian daughters were home—Shirlie, Nono and Christela.  Shirlie and Nono were 34 and 33 respectively.  Christela was 15 and in school.  She likes Justin Beiber like a regular teen and she doesn’t communicate much, but she works hard like the others.
Yvrose gave me the key to the storage room, which is also the guest room and has a bathroom.  She informed me to keep it locked at all times.  The girls had a key to clean it and I had the other one and those were all the keys.  After saying goodnight, Yvrose and Pierre Richard left.  The girls hooked me up with a regular American mattress on the front porch under a mosquito net.

The offending Anipiye
My sleep that night was fitful, as I kept feeling like something was in bed with me.  But if I moved, everything became still and quiet, so I didn't pay it much attention.  But at about 1:30 in the morning something was slithering in my bed, and no mistake about it!  I leaped to the other end of the bed and stared at my pillow.  The thing was coming out from under it by about five inches.  “Snake!  Girls, girls, there is a snake in my bed!”  After doing her share of squealing (“Eeee!  I’m very scared.  Eeee!”) Nono hooked me up with an enclosed mosquito net camping bed.  Shirlie took care of my little friend; they called it an anipiye or a milpat, which is an overgrown (way overgrown) centipede.  It was about six inches long.  That should be illegal...  I took a photo the next morning.
My bed, after the incident!

A few weeks later I came across another giant centipede in the guest bathroom.  “They like you,” said Nono.  The girls killed that one too, with copious amounts of bug spray.  Enclosed mosquito net camping beds are my new best friend!