Mission Statement

Stone By Stone- building a road following God's chosen path.  Together with our brothers and sisters of Haiti, we strive to serve the cooperative of HASWEP through Listening, Educating, Supporting, Praying, Working, Advancing.

LESPWA means HOPE in Creole. 
We are full of hope for Haiti.

 

.

 FANMI LASANTE

CLINIC

Desab, Haiti

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Thursday
Apr282016

My Ivnalie

Not sure how to begin this post except to say I knew this day would come but it's still incredibly hard.

There is a little girl who literally stole my heart 3 1/2 years ago. Her name is Ivnalie and if you have ever been blessed enough to meet her on a Stone by Stone trip, you can never forget her infectious smile or her sweet little giggle.

Ivnalie has hydrocephalus.  At 3 months of age she contracted yellow fever and came very close to dying.  Due to complications, she began to have a build up of fluid on her brain and had major surgery where they implanted a shunt. As is the norm, children with hydrocephalus eventually outgrow their shunt. Ivnalie has reached that point and is very ill.  Her health is quickly declining and she requires oxygen to breath.  She is in need of immediate surgery.

Ivnalie's mom is the most incredible mother I have ever seen. Despite the unbelievably difficult environment she has had to raise her special needs daughter in, she has done so with love and devotion.  People visiting with different organizations have offered to take Ivnalie and put her in different places in Haiti and her mom has refused. The love between these two is unbreakable.

We are asking for help on behalf of this mother and her daughter.   Prior to having any surgery, Ivnalie needs a scan of her head. The cost of this and all the incidentals that surround it (transportation, etc) is $500.  We are putting a plea out for these funds to prevent one more unnecessary death.


It is because of the ongoing support for our clinic in Desab, that Ivnalie has flourished as well as she has, as her mom regularly takes her to see Dr. Gabrielle for check-ups.


Please consider giving whatever you can and share this post as much as possible.  All donations to Stone By Stone are tax deductible.  The fastest way for us to get the money together and to Haiti is for donations to go via our PayPal. 

 

 

I knew this day would come but my heart is hurting with the real fear that she may not make it.  You see, I believe with all my heart that God placed this little angel in my life for a reason.  Loving and praying for her and her family all these years both in Haiti and from afar has impacted my life greatly.  I want so much to hop on a plane and go make this better, go hold her again but the best thing I can do is reach out to all of you for help and prayer.

Julie Rumo

Saturday
Apr162016

Sitting In The Jet Blue Terminal

I'm sitting in the Jet Blue terminal at the Port au Prince airport by myself. Gate 2. It makes me chuckle that these gates are numbered. There's one gate per airline and only four airlines. Once you're sitting at “gate 2” you've gone through the second security check. That means I had to throw out the water I had just bought upstairs to have during my wait. And if I have to go to the bathroom, I have to leave the gate and then go back through security to get back in. It's an odd airport. So I sit alone and think and write.

 

I start thinking about all of the faces that I will miss in Desab and the surrounding community. I talked to so many great people on this trip, people I really enjoy, people I have built relationships with, relationships that used to be based on a smile and hug that are now growing as the people are learning English and I am learning Creole. My mind is full of smiling faces, kind eyes, and the remembrance of

welcoming hugs.

People at home are very focused on doing. What did I do on a trip. Did I see patients? Build houses? Teach about health care? This trip was so much about being. Every person I spent time with thanked me for taking time to talk and listen and share ideas. They wished God's blessings on me because we took time to simply be together. On my last morning there, one gentleman I know walked an hour and a half from his village just so he could see me before I left to go home. It was overwhelming and humbling. It is important and great to go and do. But it is powerful to go and be.

Now I sit at gate 2, crying a little bit as I remember these moments. I tend to hate crying, so it makes me more self conscious. I realize that I'm sitting here by myself, scuzzy from not showering in almost a week, wearing dusty clothes, the only white person in the terminal. And I have to go to the bathroom but I don't want to go through security again. At least the terminal is air conditioned!

 

Nicole Pitzer

(president) 

Monday
Nov162015

Four Years Later...

This past October trip marks four years of travel to Desab for me. My first trip seems like just yesterday but also feels like forever ago, if that makes any sense. Every trip I learn something new, about the culture, about Desab, and about myself. I took a little time on the way home from this past trip to reflect on some of these things...

 

I have learned that I am ok drinking warm raspberry lemonade flavored water. I remember sitting at the table one day drinking this thinking, “This tastes good,” and then thinking, “It's actually kind of gross but I love it right now.”

 

I can do my entire morning routine using a plastic cup filled with about 8 ounces of water. Wash my face, brush my teeth, wet my hair, and sometimes have some water leftover.

 

I am surprisingly ok with the huge cockroaches in the outhouse. I just throw a rock at them and wait for them to scurry off. Part of my brain knows it's disgusting, but part of my brain is like, “It's an outhouse in Haiti, what do you expect?”

 

I don't love seeing patients in Haiti. This one took me awhile to realize, because I love love love my job in the US. I love seeing patients here. I will certainly see patients in Desab and will work in the clinic if we have enough medical professionals to have a clinic-oriented trip. But I have realized that, because that is what I do full time at home, I have found incredible joy engaging in other ways while in Haiti. I love providing continuing education for the healthcare agents and community health education programs. I also love meeting with the various community groups and learning about them as individuals and as a group, their passion for their community, their backgrounds, learning what needs they see around them. These meetings help me see what we need to do differently and make me want to work harder for them and for Stone By Stone when we get home. It reminds me of what a serious undertaking this is.

 

(with some of the healthcare agents)

 

I can go an entire week with baby wipes as my only form of showering. As long as I can wash my hair a couple of times, I'm good to go. I still love showering under the rain gutter, though. It's unbelievably refreshing.

 

I have developed the ability to have hungry children look me in the eyes and not feed them. This is difficult but important. I know we can't feed them all. We can't clothe them all. And it can be paralyzing if you don't move past that thought. Do I feed some of them? Absolutely. We always give our meal leftovers to whatever group of kids is hanging around, and if there are one or two kids with us on the porch, I sneak them a protein bar. But sometimes they look at me, tell me that they are hungry, and I just tell them, “I know” and hug them. It's heartbreaking, but it is another reminder to me of how hard we need to work when we get home and of what a serious undertaking this is.

 

I can ride in the back of a truck in road conditions that would make me freak the crap out at home without even blinking an eye while in Port Au Prince. I actually had a panic attack once while Adam was driving on the beltway around DC, but somehow Port Au Prince is ok for me. It's weird.

 

I am so American. If I am supposed to meet with the healthcare agents at 9am, I am sitting in the clinic waiting for them at 9am. When to they show up? 10:30.

 

I don't miss my cell phone, but I do miss Facebook. Maybe it's FOMO, but I'm obviously addicted.

 

I have developed friendships with people based on little more than four years of hugs, smiles, and basic phrases. (It's an introvert's dream.) They also know that I am there for them and that I am coming back. I listen to them and I don't make promises that I cannot keep.

 

I am so thankful for this journey that started in October 2011. I think about Desab every day. I pray that I never stop learning from them and from this experience and that I never stop working at this undertaking that we have started.

 

Nicole Pitzer

(president)

 

Sunday
Sep202015

“I got sick and felt like crap for 36 hours and I’d do it all again tomorrow.”

Yeah. That’s really how I feel. And I hate being sick more than anything else in the world. You truly cannot understand the hold Desab has on your heart until you’ve experienced it for yourself but I’ll try to give you a little look.

 

The whole thing started for me…and for all of us on the July trip…at a basketball game. I taught fourth grade math and science to Julie and Paul Rumo’s twin sons. When having lunch with one of the twins at school one day as a reward, he told me he was playing basketball against his brother that weekend in their league. I told him that if he let me know where and when I’d be happy to go if I could make it. (A chance to make TWO of my students happy by going to their extracurricular event on the same weekend in the same place…I’m in!) Paul emailed me with the schedule later that evening and apologized for what he thought was his son trying to force me to go…turns out it was really just fate. The next morning I found myself at the church gym where the boys played on Saturday mornings. I sat with Julie and Paul and we chatted. Julie mentioned that she’s always wanted to take a group of teachers to Haiti if I know of anyone that may actually be interested…….oh did I ever! By Monday afternoon I had at least two other people highly interested and was putting a plug in for more to join us…this dream quickly became a reality.

 

I’ve traveled and lived abroad before. I even lived with a natural family in a foreign country when I was an exchange student at fifteen. But I have never experienced culture the way I did in Desab. When I say culture shock…I mean put on your hat because you’re stepping into a whirlwind. As I look around my cozy living room in my small apartment right now where I sit, I am reminded that this is about the size of the average house in Desab that holds 4-10 people…or more. Not my whole apartment…my living room. I hear the football game on in the background with our large flat screen TV and remember that the cost of that TV sends a family of three kids to school for a year in Desab…not to mention the electricity that is an unthinkable luxury. I look at the air conditioner in the window and remember the 90 degree (plus) heat I lived in for a week that the people of Desab cannot escape. I see my dog, and my foster dog…both well fed…both sleeping comfortably on my comfortable couch and I think about the small, undernourished, but loved pets…or eventual food…of the villagers. I do not live a life of luxury for the United States by any means…but seriously…how privileged am I to have been born here? These thoughts run through my head constantly now…every second of every day. From finding myself flipping out about a man watering his lush green front yard and having to be talked down by my boyfriend in the car (yes that happened…the kids in Desab walk 2-5 miles to find water…often without shoes and carrying buckets on their heads—I just couldn’t handle seeing that) to introducing myself to my new cohort of third graders as “Miss Ward…I went to Haiti this summer and I can’t wait to go back”…Desab has a huge chunk of my heart.

 

While in Desab I slept on 2 inch mattresses, lived without air conditioning in sweltering heat, tossed rocks from one side of the center of the village to the other so they could be broken apart and then carried them back to be mixed for cement, tried new foods, carried a bucket on my head, hiked DOWN a huge mountain (this was the end of that 36 hour sickness I talked about---totally have to hike up it next time…the rest of my team were AMAZING for conquering this), went to the bathroom in the most primitive outhouse you can imagine, prayed for the dark to come sooner so I wouldn’t need to use the outhouse at all, showered out of a bucket, showered under a gutter (BEST. SHOWER. EVER.), rode on top of a truck and on the back of a motorcycle with three other people (sorry, not sorry, gram), witnessed an ultra sound, painted the clinic, let the girls braid my hair, attempted to speak some Haitian Creole, learned…loved…and, eventually…left. What this huge run-on sentence is supposed to show you is that not everything was desirable…not everything was “fun” but everything was meaningful. Every experience I had in Desab was enlightening, exciting, eye-opening, and full of love. Love, really, is what this village is all about.

I have never met a group of people more willing to work, more thankful, more understanding, more persistent, and more accepting than the people of Desab. When the materials came in for us to start building or painting or carrying shoes up a mountain, we had a huge following of Haitians gratefully ready to help. This is THEIR VILLAGE and they may not have the means to make the improvements and complete the projects they want and so desperately need…but when those means are available you can bet your butt they’re going to do anything they can to help and improve their village in any way they can. This was so inspiring to me…even when there were able bodied Americans bringing in the resources to make improvements and excited to do the dirty work themselves…the Haitians wanted to have a part…wanted to lessen the burden…wanted to take responsibility and ownership of their village and their lives…I love it.

A final story to show you the love, respect, and understanding that is instilled in this community (and is so often missing in our privileged lives here in the U.S. comes from the kids…of course! We brought hundreds of pairs of shoes to donate in Haiti. We were all so excited to hike up a mountain (A MOUNTAIN LET ME TELL YOU) with these shoes and deliver them to a village about 3.5 miles beyond Desab who had never received shoes before. No American group had come in to this village to offer support…we were the first…that in itself is amazing to think about. The kids in Desab…many with no shoes or at least shoes that here in the US if you sent your kids to school in would probably get you a call from the school counselor…at least….knew that we had all of these shoes in our possession the whole week. We (or rather my amazing team…I cheated and took a moto after vomiting and being extremely weak all day the day before...super disappointing…) gathered to start the hike with suitcases of shoes in tow. Along came the kids of the village…ranging in age from 6-15…taking bags and suitcases to carry for us….many on their heads. Ok that was WHOA moment number one. One girl in particular, Dinez, wasn’t wearing shoes, and carried a large size luggage suitcase up for us…more on her later. As everyone got to the village with the shoes the kids (from here on referred to as “our kids”) took a seat on the floor or in the surrounding areas and watched on…yes WATCHED…as we passed out hundreds of pairs of shoes. Remember now…many of them didn’t have shoes on or could desperately use a new pair. Toward the end of our stock, people of the village began to panic. You can understand and see where they were coming from—this was their first and only chance to get support and they…and their small children…were losing their chance at a pair of decent shoes because we were running out. People started to panic and run for what shoes were left or set their children into the room through the windows to budge ahead in line. This was classic fight or flight happening right now. Our kids who sat and watched us hand out so many resources they needed began to gather our belongings…our water bottles, our cameras, our phones, our bags, our everything…and put them in a pile in the corner. They began to surround the pile and stood to be sure nothing happened to our belongings. As things got a little more crowded some of the kids starting guiding us to our things to let us know our things were safe and offer a smiling, encouraging, and comforting face in the midst of a stressful situation. Our kids found us and our belongings to be important enough for them to be sure they were safe…despite carrying hundreds of pairs of what they needed up a mountain for nothing but love in return. HOW AMAZING IS THAT. I MEAN REALLY….HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU KNOW THAT WOULD DO THAT??? 6, 8, 10 year olds made that decision…had that respect…felt that love for essentially strangers…I am absolutely mind-blown and find tears in my eyes every single time I think about it…every single time.

 

Desab is love. Desab is hope. Desab is faith. Most of all…Desab is family to anyone that steps into that village. I know I’ll be stepping back into it soon and I cannot wait to once again feel its embrace. So what now? What now that I’m home? Yeah…I’m going back…but what do I do for the months until that happens? I help. Dinez…that amazing little girl I mentioned earlier…is brilliant. She is beautiful, brilliant, helpful, kind, and generous. She deserves the world. I cannot give her the world. But I can give her an even greater education than she is already graciously able to receive. I can get her English lessons to hopefully add another skill…another needed and desired business skill…to her repertoire. Not just as a villager in Desab…but as a girl…a young girl in a world where that is already a strike against you. I can give her education and education is power and that is what I’ll do.

Did this post warm your heart? Did it give you all the feels like it gave me just writing it? If so…what will you do with that? We can’t all do the same thing…we don’t all have the same means…but we can all do SOMETHING. Tell someone about Stone By Stone and the amazing work they do. Share a Facebook post about a fundraiser they’re having. Sponsor a student for an entire school year…it’s only $125…that’s a month’s worth of coffee…I mean really. Sponsor a teacher to help keep the school afloat until the teachers can start the business they so badly want to get off the ground to become self-sufficient. Donate your used shoes so the kids and adults that helped carry them but didn’t get any can have their turn…do SOMETHING. Don’t read this and everyone else’s posts and not help…we can all press share…we can all tell someone about what we read…we can all help. Up for a little more? Join us. Make a difference in the lives of Desab and I guarantee it’ll impact yours more than you ever imagined. Like I titled this post…I was the unlucky one that found myself very sick for 36 hours for no real reason at all (probably not drinking enough water that day, really) and I’m going back as soon as I can…I have to…I left a big part of my heart with the children of Desab.

 

~Christine Ward

 

 

Tuesday
Sep152015

Education In Haiti

This summer I had the most life changing experience I will probably ever have. I traveled to Desab with an amazing group of people, with one goal in mind: to help people and make a difference. Before I talk about the trip, let’s back track a bit to where it all began for our group. The way our group came together was pretty special. Six members of our group are all teachers who were working at the same school, and two of us had Julie and Paul’s sons in our classes. Julie approached Christine about wanting to go on a trip with teachers to work on education. Several of us expressed interest in going on the trip and the rest was history. Our group was made up of 6 teachers, a physical therapist (check out her blog post!), a photographer, and our awesome leaders, Adam and Julie!

As we began planning and preparing for our trip, we all had our own individual goals about what we wanted to accomplish while we were there but above all, we wanted to make a difference, with a focus on education. While in Haiti we worked harder than any of us had ever worked and immersed ourselves with the culture and the people and I loved every minute. We not only surprised ourselves with how hard we could work but the Haitians were impressed as well. One day as we were working, a Haitian asked Julie, “Are your sure they’re teachers? They don’t work like teachers, they work like masons.”  Yeah…we were pretty awesome.

Due to our common love of education we were all so excited to meet with the teachers to get a feel for what we could do to help. As we began our meeting we found out that the teachers in the village had been working, without pay, for 7 months. It broke my heart to find out that the school was struggling as much as it was and that it was on the verge of not opening for the students. We found out that for 7 teachers to get paid for 7 months that they were owed, it would be just over $7,000. It instantly put things into perspective for me. I am so used to hearing that teachers in America don’t get paid enough (and to that day I believed it too) but to find out that these teachers are making so little money, and continue to work, without pay, really reminded me why I, and so many people like me, went in to teaching. We understand the importance of an education and the value that it brings to a child’s life. The teachers in Desab have inspired me. My new school year recently began and when I am having a particularly tough day with my students or I am just exhausted, they are the people that come to mind and give me the strength I am looking for. All I need to do is think about the work that they are doing and I am reminded of why I do what I do, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

One of the wonderful opportunities that Stone By Stone offers is the chance to give the gift of education to a child in Haiti. For only $125, you can give a child a year of education that will help them to improve their lives. To put that number into perspective, that is less than the cost of my family of 6 to go out for dinner for one night, I think we can all afford to give up the calories and give that money to a student in need. Please consider making a small sacrifice of yourself to make a huge difference in the life of someone who truly deserves it.

~Mary Carley

(meeting with the teachers from Desab)