2017 word.

Several years ago, I discovered the trend to select one word for the year and I chose “possibilities.” I had no idea what that word would bring, but truly the possibilities were surprising. That summer brought me to Haiti and the possibilities continue to be endless as our work in the orphanage turned school expand and evolve with each trip.

In reflecting over the past choices, they all seem to make sense in my mind with the season of life I was experiencing. I have been pondering my word all week as 2016 shifted into 2017…nothing seemed to be quite right to take me into a new year. Hope? Contentment? Balance?

The conversations I have had recently with family and friends is that life can be very hard. Most people I know are battling some struggle or another right now, and yet we all continue to go about the business of life, attempting to hold things together. We seek strength from loved ones that allow us to share the real stuff-the hard things. And we pray. One day at a time, we face the tasks and obstacles ahead-at times wearily and at times with confidence and positivity.

As I take a big-picture view of this life of mine, I am realizing that I do not always take very good care of myself. Sleep is a battle, exercise has been basically non-existent, good nutrition often takes a back seat to convenience. If I intend to face the experiences ahead of me with energy and care…then I must choose to take care of myself.

My 2017 word will help me focus on my health-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. When faced with decisions in the week, I will pause and prioritize to make positive choices as best as I can. Cheers to 2017!

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relationship building.

So much of what we do as Kozefò is build relationships – with students and staff.  And that is what today was all about.  There were letters shared between sponsors and students…time to hang out with the school kids…and dinner with the staff.   Such great moments. (We even met Haitian artist-running for Senate-Jean Adler Gaston-aka Top Adlerman!)

There have been conversations about the importance of relationships and how things go so much smoother when connections have been made…in fact that may be the focus of the teacher seminar tomorrow morning! As a supporting non-profit, our role is to walk alongside those that we partner with – not to come in as the ones with the answers.  We are simply here to join in the work. As we walked through the neighborhood last evening, we ran into a parent along the street who was happy to see us…we bumped into another fellow – Eddy, who lives on the next block and made plans for him to join us at school to practice his photography skills [shout out to him since most of these images were ones he captured]…Steve’s Healing Haiti friend Jean called tonight to follow-up on the projects we discussed yesterday….Jonas was busy making sure we were all set, as we checked into Tony Sanneh’s Haitian Initiative guest house this evening.  Relationships!  That is what makes this world go round – I am feeling humbled and grateful for the amazing folks that have become interwoven through this Haitian adventure.

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grade1

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sponsorletters

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dismissal

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rainy day kids.

The students rolled in today, doing their best to stay dry in the rainy morn. They sure looked darn cute in their hats and sweatshirts and rain gear. Saul’s Digicel umbrella came in very handy to escort kids and staff over to the new classrooms!  It was so great to see their smiling faces! The new classrooms were rearranged to accommodate a large crowd – 72 of our 100+ students showed up.  Ms. Roselaure and Mr. Jonas led them in songs and reading – spiritual lessons on this rainy day – and they settled in for a movie projected for all to see.

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staying-dry

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morning-lessons

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In the midst of all that, there were plenty more adventures…

…a google hangout between Gefte’s American and Haitian families…

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…a visit from my nephew’s brother…

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…technology lessons…

tech-lessons

…interviews with new students, a two hour meeting with Ms. Roselaure, planning for team trips…

…a consult from a Haitian engineer – who works with Healing Haiti…a visit to the land at Pernier 40…a walk through the neighborhood looking at properties for sale locally…

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and on top of it all, pretty sure I have a bladder infection!  Grateful to Saul for running down the street to buy me cranberry juice and for the antibiotic that Steve packed.  Whew!

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connecting and taking care of business.

We landed in Port au Prince in the midst of a rain shower-water puddling in the streets as we made our to the school. It was so great to return, especially following the concern we felt during Hurricane Matthew.  Here in our little community of Pernier, all is well.

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Seeing the staff was such a treat – especially Miss Nahomie and Teacher Jonas!

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The cooks had prepared chicken, rice and beans with fresh vegetables-loved the avocado!

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Madam Edelyne dropped in for a finance meeting. We are so grateful for her carefully documented accounting and for taking care of business here when we are so far away. Love this sweet lady!

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And the night is closing out with a bit of office work – discussions with Jonas, planning for the next few days, previewing the school calendar, as Steve sets up the new Chromebooks and tutors Jonas on printing with the wireless printer and downloading docs.  We are anxious to see the students tomorrow!  Bon Nwit – Good Night my friends!

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love must be sincere.

The school year has begun – smiling faces, eager students, energized teachers, committed staff/administration – buses are rolling – backpacks carry homework and interesting books to read.  So many great things.

And yet…

Life is difficult.  Today as we reflect on the 15th anniversary of 9/11/2001, there are so many things wrong in the world. Fear, anger, sadness, bitterness, anxiety, apathy. People are arrogant, defensive, judging, rude, unkind.  Tragedies occur on a daily basis, impacting students and families and school staff members. At times, it is almost too much to bear. However the sun sets and the sun rises…and classrooms fill with students.

We must bond together in this journey of life – encouraging each other during the struggles and in seeking the highlights – the positive moments. I try to start each day with the reminder to Love God and Love Others. And this year, I intend to take that further as I seek to live out the commands of Romans 12:9-13. Stay strong my friends!

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first day of school pics.

Thank you to all of our supporters!  The 2016-17 school year kicked off today with eager learners.  Many students remain on holiday, and will straggle in throughout the week as they learn that the doors to ANA Primary School have opened once again.

Day 1 2016-17 School Year

The extra funding that came in recently from the 5K will cover expenses incurred to build three additional classrooms where the chicken coop used to stand. School Director Rock Cayo and School Administrator Roselaure checked in with me today via google video hangout. (Sorry for the fuzzy screen shot!)  Wandering through the school, classroom to classroom today was such a treat! Check out the sweet desks in the grade 7 classroom – we are contracting with several teachers to cover all content areas – Mathematics, French, Literature, Biology, English, Geography.  The students are receiving quality instruction. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support!!!!

Video Hangout

Here are images of the early arrivals for Day 1…

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Grade 1

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Grade 2

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Grade 3

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Grade 4

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Grade 5

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Grade 6

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Grade 7

We are still in need of nearly 20 student sponsors.  Please consider joining our efforts!  All donations are tax-deductible and you will have the opportunity to keep in touch with your student through annual letters and photos, as well the possibility of joining a team trip to meet your student.  Click here to select a student: http://www.kozefo.org/sponsor

Sponsor a Student

kozefò 5K 2016 by the numbers

5th Annual 5K

What a fantastic day for the 5th Annual Kozefò 5K!  Personally, the greatest one yet – especially since I was able to stroll in around registration time and all of the details had been taken care of by Doreen and her AMAZING team of volunteers.  Yea Team! Mesi Anpil!

And the results are in for the 2016 Kozefò 5K…

total Runners-Walkers registered: 146

total volunteers: 46

students sponsored: 7

money raised: $6,121

SUCCESS!!!

**Highlights this year included t-shirts with a fresh new design, merchandise available [created with student art from ANA Primary School in Port au Prince], prizes for the 1st stroller and the 1st dog, snacks for participants, volunteers from the Branch Out Transition Program, handmade medals for finishers from the 94 students enrolled in our school! Wow.

Thank you all so much for your incredible support!

Registration

Volunteer ExtraordinaireWalkers

Runners on the trailRunnersStrollers

Medal Assistants

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Olympic Moment

Kozefò: (v) to speak in a loud voice.

We believe education is the key to developing thinking, creative individuals. As Christians, we are called to care and to speak loud against the injustices in the world. This is the true meaning of Kozefò, people together, hand in hand, speaking in a loud voice to bring about positive change in education, one school at a time.

For more information, check us out at: kozefo.org