Friday, August 25, 2017

Taking Shape Breaks Ground in Port au Prince Haiti

It was just a year ago I shadowed a friend and colleague of mine on a mission trip to Haiti. Katie is an extraordinary human being, with a heart to give back on all levels. She is a TED talk presenter, owner of a dance school, executive director of a global non-profit, and in her spare time is building a school in Uganda. I had my own vision of building a performing arts school in a third world country and my goal for that trip was to learn from her in expanding our non-profit organization, Taking Shape.

I didn't quite know what to expect in this country that was still reeling from a devastating earthquake of 2010.  We visited Lephare, a small orphanage where we planned to bring some joy by conducting games and singing and dancing. The dismal facility had a rusty, steel gate that served to protect the precious lives within. When we entered, our hearts were immediately warmed as a flood of smiling, excited children greeted us. We were witness to resilience, love, energy, and respect. I had found the location to bring my vision to fruition.

One of the missions of Taking Shape is to identify and develop young leaders. Our goal is to help them live a life of purpose and servant leadership for their communities, surrounding areas, and the world. Immediately, I could identify young leaders in this orphanage and knew this would be the perfect place to build a performing arts school and young leadership facility. Now, one year later, we are seeing this vision become a reality with our August groundbreaking. I want to express my profound gratitude for each and every one of you who have helped us reach this milestone.

Work includes an expansion of rooms including bedrooms and bathrooms for the 23 residents. We will continue on to build a community school in conjunction with the project so other children in the area can benefit. Things are happening quickly. We will begin performing arts mission camps in the summer of 2018.
I often get asked why we are helping children in another country when there is so much to be done in our own communities. Our goal is to grow young leaders Here, Near and Far. This project will not only help children in Haiti but will provide exceptional leadership opportunities for our own STAR leaders from our local program. They will get the opportunity to serve on a global level by registering to teach at these camps in Haiti next summer.

I was moved by how eager these Haitian children were to learn. They don't take anything for granted. They have deep faith, hope, and an appreciation for education. They take care of each other. I have witnessed how they are already leaders in their own community. With your ongoing help, we will continue to answer the call in partnering with Pastor Jean of Lephare Orphanage as we help them expand their school and facility. Taking Shape will also continue to work on our three platforms; Here, Near and Far, as we continue to make differences in the lives of children through youth leadership.

Help us continue our mission to raise young leaders Here, Near and Far
by donating here today!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Day 5 - Haiti Camp Finishes with a Bang!

Haiti Camp Finishes with a Bang!

Today we completed our final day of our Taking Shape/Cepras summer camp combining the children associated with the Cepras organization and the children of Lephare orphanage. What a week we have had! Learning, growing, dancing, singing and meeting new friends!

Today we finished with a performance of all of the dances, games  and songs we have learned this week.  It was hard to say goodbye especially to all of the children that touched us in so many ways. Despite the bitter sweet goodbyes, Taking Shape is ecstatic to announce that we have partnered with the Cepras organization of Haiti to conduct our Taking Shape camps annually. Look for our mission camp registration and announced dates to be available September, 1.

.A huge thank you to Marcella Gibbs, Benson Jean and Emmanuel Pierre of Cepras who allowed this camp to happen! What experience it was for our team of 3….. Ms Beana, Mr Sam and Ms Tracey. We are looking forward to opening up our 2018 summer Haiti mission camps with a larger team of Taking Shape STAR leaders and dance studio owners! Until next year…..!
Au Revoir!!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Day 4 - Fish are a hit!

Today was the last full day of camp, tomorrow we finish up with a performance and celebration with the children of Cepras and Lephare orphanage.. Today’s big hit was creating a wall of rainbow fish!  Cepras President Benson read the bible story of the loaves and the fishes. The children made a wall of beautiful fish using weaving and construction paper. Very creative!

We had several new dances and games that we introduced to the campers such as the Macarena, Limbo and Duck Duck Goose. Games are a huge hit with this bunch!

After day 4 it has been so cool to see the kids of Cepras and Lephare orphanage become friends and establish relationships. They have shared a common experience and have formed some wonderful friendships along the way!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Day 3 - August 2017 Mission Camp Trip

Another full day at the Cepras Camp! Today we arrived at the camp with 23 Lephare orphanage kids and a 9 month baby in the Tap Tap (another name for Taxi but it is a short bed Toyota truck painted in vibrant colors). We met up with the remaining children attending the Cepras camp at the CMAS school where the camp is being held.  

Such a variety of ages from a 9 month old to 24 year old boys and girls coming to camp to learn, grow as leaders and make friends. 

Today our campers learned some American favorites; The Chicken Dance, YMCA and the Wobble. We also joined both ages together for a Cotton Eye Joe production number. Yee haa! 

Musical chairs, public speaking using a microphone and several crafts and art contests throughout the day!
Benson the President of Cepras conducted a very creative bible skit focusing on the story of the prodigal son. Haitian children are quite entertaining and great actors! 

What an experience this has been so far! Haitian children are so similar to Americans in that they are like sponges, they want to learn. They love to play and they take care of each other. I have seen our leadership team grow as young leaders themselves as they instruct activities, games, songs and lessons to children that don’t speak the same language. Leading others in example rather than words! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Day 2 - August 2017 Mission Camp Trip

Two different tribes of children joined together today for their first day of our Taking Shape Leadership Camp. Twenty two children from the Lephare orphanage and twenty five children from CEPRAS organization came together for a day of leadership, dance, games, crafts and bible skits. What a day it was! 

Taking Shape team leaders Savanah Wozny and Sam Lock lead outdoor activities of soccer, dodgeball, relay races and hip hop dance. Dance and sports are universal! Even though there certainly was a language barrier, when the music is on or you give these kids a ball we all speak the same language.

Leadership activities were a big hit with our campers! We worked on public speaking and made purpose posters highlighting what was important to each child. We discussed what our goals are and what everyone wanted to be when they grew up. Several future doctors, nurses and engineers are going to be running around here in Haiti in the years to come! 

The story of Noah’s Arc was the favorite as we put together bible skits for our final day! 

We continue on with our mission of leaders raising leaders as we head into day 2 of our Taking Shape leadership camp……. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Day 1 - August 2017 Mission Camp Trip

Today our Taking Shape Team arrive in Port-au-Prince Haiti for our first mission camp trip. We would like to give a BIG thank you to all of those that donated supplies for our dance, sports and leadership camps. Our suitcases were loaded with so much love from our community and our team is now fully equipped to provide a great experience for the students here in Haiti. Our team is looking forward to a week of growth and service with some amazing children!

Keep up with us on our  taking shape FB page this week as we post of our camp!