Saturday, January 14, 2017

Taking Shape partners in Port au Prince, Haiti with FAR community outreach program

Taking Shape devoted December to the month of “Giving” as the focus for our STAR leadership program. In the month of December, Taking Shape STAR program spread their love for giving Here in our local communities by assisting with Common Good Natural Living painting party with their residents. Our STAR leaders of the Near platform volunteered in the Greater Kansas City area with the Episcopal Community Services feeding the homeless . To top off the month of December, I returned to Port au Prince, Haiti to continue the development of a partnership with LaPhare orphanage in our mission to impact the lives of others through our Far outreach programs.  

During my August 2016 mission trip to Haiti, I visited a small orphanage and school called LaPhare. LaPhare is home to 23 children and overseen by their Pastor, Jean Dieugrand. Pastor Jean, and his wife provide a very loving and safe environment for each and every child. When I met Pastor Jean in August, I was utterly taken back by his wholehearted faith and leadership within his orphanage. My heart was struck by his renowned ability to lead the community and children in his orphanage; despite lack of resources and income he has for his own organization. Pastor Jean teaches the value of giving, community, and education to every child under his roof by providing community work outside his walls. After leaving Haiti in August, I knew I needed to establish a relationship with LaPhare and the Pastor. I have a similar vision and mission for children as I witness in Pastor Jean. I saw a man who made an impact on children and his community. He was a beacon of purposeful living and doing great work in his neighborhood. This to me was the same vision we have with Taking Shape.

One of the amazing events I got to be a part of during my December visit, was a community holiday party that LaPhare orphanage holds for all of the children in the neighborhood. It was like no other! The preparation involved was tedious. Haitian women helped the Pastor’s wife cook up meals of chicken and red beans and rice for over 300 young children. The meal was prepared outside in an 8x8 concrete slab hut with two self standing rod iron burners lit underneath by charcoal. It was very hot this day but these women never complained. They made enough food for over 300 kids with no electricity, no running water and no air conditioning. The version of “work ethic” took on a new meaning to me after witnessing these Haitian women!

In the meantime as the food was being prepared, several activities were being orchestrated to entertain the children in their neighboring small, yet pristine LaPhare church where the party was held. Children performed skits, dances and sang songs under the supervision of the teachers of LaPhare for several hours.  (Note: none of the children had cell phones. They were all present in the moment of playing, laughing and living life with each other without a phone in their hand! Amazing!) I found myself in awe of the work and dedication that everyone who is part of LaPhare orphanage had in organizing this event and giving back to their community. It was such an honor to be a part of this day!  Below is a video of children enjoying the party!

In developing my relationship with Pastor Jean, I have realized that his leadership and community outreach programs are in such alignment with the mission, culture, and values of Taking Shape. I feel a strong bond with this man; and a calling to work alongside him in producing experiences, opportunity, and inspiring leadership in the youth of our communities.

Since returning from my trip the end of December, we have set some short and long term goals for the Far platform of Taking Shape. Our short term goals are to continue to strengthen our partnership with LaPhare orphanage, work together in establishing leadership programs and organize summer dance and performing art camps for the children of LaPhare orphanage and other schools of the Port au Prince area.

Our long term goals are to aid in the building expansion of LaPhare orphanage, increasing the living quarter space for the children. In addition we will be supporting the continued growth and development of the school and a future mission trip is planned in  August 2018 where our Taking Shape STAR leaders will have the opportunity to travel to Haiti to teach summer dance and performing art camps. Taking Shape is also looking forward to future partnerships with other outreach programs in Haiti as we align ourselves with others of the same core values of raising young leaders who are make differences Here, Near and Far.

So many things to be eager about! Yet I feel an overwhelming sense of peace; as if the patient ways of Haitian life have encompassed me. The children of LaPhare orphanage have affected me in so many positive ways, teaching me to slow down, live in the moment, and have faith that everything will come together for the betterment of this world.

The visit in December to LaPhare gave me clarity. Clarity of what the purpose of Taking Shape is all about. It is a development of partnerships with other like minded leaders whose purpose is to foster mutual understanding, respect and community awareness that lead to making a difference in the world. Whether we are Here in Carrollton Missouri, Near in our surrounding communities or in a Far country in the Western Hemisphere; our Taking Shape mission and vision is the same; to develop young leaders who can make a difference Here, Near, and Far.  The future holds exciting opportunities for Taking Shape. We thank your for your prayers, volunteer work, and donations to continue our mission.

Tracey L Wozny/Executive Director Taking Shape

To learn more about our programs visit our Taking Shape Website
Me and the Pastors Wife, Mrs Dieugrand

Myself, Pastor Jean Dieugrand, my brother

The children and teachers of Laphare orphanage
300 meals of chicken, rice and beans
Beautiful Haitian women making food for 300 children of the community 

Taking Shape built a roof to protect the "Chicken Shack" 

Children enjoying the party