School year 2019-2020
Dear Friends and Family,
I hope you are having a wonderful summer. It’s such a great time of year! I also hope that your lives are going well. Remember if you need a prayer or two, just let us know. Our friends in Borgne are there for us. As you will see, they are always aware that God is with us on the journey and they pray for us as we do for them.
As we approach this school year of 2019 to 2020, our vision is clear : ). We again reach out for your help as friends to children in Borgne, Haiti. Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world.” You have truly changed the world for literally hundreds of children over the past ten years! You have given them the gift of literacy and beyond — a gift that can’t be taken away.
A great celebration of our ten year anniversary was held in Borgne this summer. Sarah Brownell, a founding member of Friends of Borgne, and her daughter were there to celebrate this decade of learning! Sarah’s description will simply take you there and help you to see how very much you are appreciated. Here it is!
A 10 year anniversary of, for and by the children!
I wasn’t counting, but I’d guess that at least 500 children participated in the 10 year anniversary celebration of the Fondasyon Dauphin, the children’s organization in Borgne, Haiti that is supported by Friends of Borgne.
First there were soccer teams—teams from our three sponsored schools (Wesleyan, Jericho, and TiRivyea) faced off against a Fondasyon Dauphin team comprised of children of the Fondasyon and band members in a soccer tournament. Two playoff games on Friday culminated in a championship game on Sunday, June 9, the day of the anniversary celebration.
Then there was the grand church celebration. It started with a formal parade. Fondasyon children, volunteers, employees and supporters were led through the streets of Borgne by the band and a troupe of majorettes and drum majors who had trained for weeks for the colossal performance they put on in front of the church. My favorite part was when the majorettes fell to their knees and assumed the position of the “Neg Maron,” a famous Haitian statue of the “black maroon” with his broken shackle signifying freedom from slavery and blowing a conch shell to call the people to revolution. After the band put away their instruments, we entered the church, which was filled to the brim with children. The three hour long church service was animated by teen liturgical dancers who moved elegantly to songs by the grand choir and a children’s choir featuring a solo sung by a six year old vocalist while other young choir girls dressed immaculately in red and white brought candles to the alter. All the people who have been touched by the Fondasyon—teachers, parents, volunteers—brought everything from sugar cane to mops and buckets to the alter as a gift to the church.
I got a gift too! The night before the service, I had been given a dress to wear to the ceremony. One of our former sewing students took my measurements and, in a day, made me a gorgeous blue dress to wear. I was called to the front at the end of the service to model his work. He (one of the few men in the sewing program) now makes a living by this trade as well as helping to cook the daily meals for the Fondasyon.
Following Mass, we all changed into our swim attire and headed to a beach party. Each participating school, including our three sponsored schools and four schools invited as guests, were given part of a cow—the parts of the full cow were divvied up the day before in our kitchen—to prepare the meal for the party. There was a live band, swimming in the ocean, and everyone ate their fill of bulyon, a thick Haitian stew including meat, greens, root vegetables, plantains, and dumplings. As the afternoon grew long, everyone moved on to the soccer field for the championship game between the Fondasyon Dauphin and the Jericho school in Margot. The Fondasyon team proved victorious and made sure everyone knew about their victory by parading the trophy through the streets of Borgne followed by a cheering crowd of supporters and band members “tooting their own horns”. The rest of us retired to our beds exhausted.
The final element of the celebration was an educational opportunity for youth interested in learning to paint held the next week. Richmond Futch of Revelation Art in Rochester provided art supplies and led a painting lesson for anyone interested in learning. We had more than 40 participants. They stayed all afternoon painting and covering the walls of the Fondasyon with their gorgeous works of art.
For my part, I concluded the celebration with a prayer—that we in Rochester might have the energy, the perseverance, the hope and the drive to match that of our Haitian counterparts, so that a decade from now Friends of Borgne might celebrate 20 years of serving some of the most vulnerable youth in the world. We believe that education is the best investment we can make in the future with a high rate of return (in the form higher earnings and development) for our money, education is the key to democracy and holding elected officials accountable, and education is a force against corruption, despair, and despondency and in favor of tolerance and love. Providing education to those who would not have access is proof of our hope for the future and our hope for the future of Haiti specifically, that she might continue to teach us all the lessons of the importance of freedom, despite the sometimes difficult costs. As they often say here in the US, freedom is not free. You have to fight for it. And Friends of Borgne and the Fondasyon Dauphin fight, not with armaments, but with education.
Isn’t that a fantastic description of the spirit of these Haitian people!!! How much they want to show us that they appreciate our help.
This summer we used up almost all of the money we had to provide summer school which included sewing and computers as well as a baking/cooking class — all things that can help the 26 participants earn money. We just sent $3000+ to cover the cost of fabric for uniforms, shoes, and backpacks. The costs of tuition, books, teacher salaries, food and lie ahead. We so hope you will continue to be a treasured friend to these children! Our expenses run around $40,000 per year.
This fall it looks as if we will have three students going into the final year of high school. Johnny collects the report cards to register the students for the next year. He reports that so far all of the report cards have passing grades. This has never happened before!
Please send your donation to:
Friends of Borgne, Inc.
PO Box 486
Honeoye Falls, NY 14472
Remember that 100% of your donation goes to support the education of the children and adults in Borgne. We have no administrative fees because we are all volunteers. We pay for our own travel to Borgne as well. Our board members also donate generously.
Thank you in advance for your help this year and thank you for your help along the way. What a wonderful thing you have done!
This comes with so much gratitude and love,
Friends of Borgne, Inc.
P.S. One of our board members, Sue Whalen, suggested that I pass along this information to our donors over 70 and 1/2 years of age. It’s a great way to donate to charities and we have our fingers crossed that Friends of Borgne might be one that you choose : ). Here’s her suggestion:
Many people are asking that Friends of Borgne Inc receive a portion of their required minimum distributions. It is a way to reduce one’s income and lower one’s taxes. Required minimum distributions are minimum amounts that a retirement plan account owner must withdraw annually starting with the year he or she reaches 70 1/2 years of age or, if later, the year in which he or she retires. But you can ask that these funds or a portion of them be sent directly to charities of your choice. This will reduce your income reported to the IRS and the charities will receive the money tax free. But as you will not have to pay any taxes on this money you may not declare it as a taxable donation. You might want to ask your financial planner to help you with this process.
Thanks for considering it!