Matènwa Community Learning Center Rotating Header Image

From Anne Gibbons on her 7h visit to Matènwa

WORD FOR THE DAY We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. BLESSED MOTHER TERESAAs

I read today’s little meditation I thought of Chris Low’s appreciation of the starfish story as well. However as I think of all the good that each of you and your respective communities accomplish on a daily basis it feels like much more than a starfish or a drop of water.
Since the postal service does not currently seem to afford the possibility of a well written note on lovely stationery, please accept this internet mediated note of deepest gratitude for yet another journey of transformation and growth.

Joelle – you were so very attentive to us and helpful in facilitating all the details involved both before we left, during our time on La Gonave, and even after as we adventured into Kwadebouke. Your kind attention and personal care for us was even more impressive as you did so often while you were feeling absolutely miserable. We couldn’t have asked for a better travel director than you and pray you continue to feel recovery and returning strength. We would be so very grateful if you could pass along our gratitude and appreciation to our host family and all who were such an essential part of our visit.
Please don’t be a stranger when you return to the states and come check out the non-profit world in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Chris – your leadership in the community continues to challenge and inspire. You wear so many hats and bear so many burdens of responsibility yet somehow keep laughter on your lips and a smile on your face, even when we know this is an especially difficult time with ongoing challenges and relentless worries. It is always an added bonus and blessing to see you and Juliette interact with one another. She is becoming a wise woman with your maternal mentoring and example. Hope Boy is running about and getting into enough trouble to hear the word Sorti! on a regular basis.

Carla (TiKan?)
I think you know that you are and will always be my favorite translator of language, culture, spirit, and soul for Ayiti. To begin and end our adventures in the warmth of your hospitable heart was such a blessing for all of us. We could not have asked for better bookends to our travel. Na Sonje helps open our eyes, ears, and hearts to all that we encounter as we travel. Hopefully we were more attentive, intentional, and sensitive as we travelled about thanks to the lessons you all taught us both in our departure and our return. The love of the community there is manifest in the tangible ways of good food and drink, beautiful music, lovely craft and artwork, safe travels, etc. But there intangible gifts of solidarity and connection as well which we will treasure always. If you could also share our appreciation with the many who welcomed us we would appreciate that.

There is so much more that could be said but for now I wanted to at least convey our thanks, an assurance that we returned home safely and soundly, and that the memories of the past 11 days will continue to warm our hearts and bring joy to our spirits long into the future.


Hands to Hearts Launches in Haiti

There are now 12 HHI Trainers ready to go forth and share new knowledge, skills and love with their communities in rural Haiti. These women, and men – teachers, health workers, and orphanage caregivers – spent the last 6 days sharing, studying, practicing and creating some new materials especially for the parents and babies of their communities.
HHI Trainers created this song (in Creole) to reinforce the lessons they learned. It translates to:
“I am talking to you so you can learn how to talk.
I am showing you different things, so you can learn to think.
I am letting you move, so you can move by yourself.
I am treating you kindness, affection and with care.
Further away, you will see me the same and then you will learn to believe in yourself.
Trust me my baby, I am helping you to become strong in your body, in your brain and in your love. To become strong in your body, your brain and in your love.”
The trainers, and our colleagues from Alliance for Children Foundation and the Matènwa School, all made for a week which was not only incredibly productive and successful – but fun!
– See more at: these trainers are ready to get to work in their communities of Kenscoff and La Gonave. Conservative estimates are that they will train approximately 1,100 – 1,500 moms, dads, orphanage staff and other caregivers – every year! Thus ensuring that thousands of babies experience: greater affection and nurturing; more talking, reading, and singing; more opportunities to learn and explore.

We are deeply thankful to the Alliance for Children Foundation for making this all possible!

July 2015 Update

Dear friends of Matènwa,

Thanks to your support MCLC students and staff had a great school year. We successfully completed the national scope and sequence for ALL subjects.

Loving the Garden Till the End2J

Whereas most schools were only focused on preparing for exams during the month of June, students continued to enjoy the hands-on science and writing activities in the garden. Students had a great time caring for the garden, preparing beds and seedlings, watering and fertilizing with their own organic compost, and doing experiments. Because of their commitment, we had beautiful vegetables throughout the year. We had a lot of cabbages, tomatoes, turnips, peppers, and spinach that went into our school breakfast program to feed our students and fight malnutrition.

Rethinking Power to Stop Violence Against Women and Girls

3JA select group of MCLC staff recently participated in a two-day training offered by Beyond Borders in its Rethinking Power program. This program combats violence against women and girls and the resulting spread of HIV/AIDS, using a methodology called SASA! Sasa is a Kiswahili word that means “now,” indicating that now is the time to stop all forms of violence against women and girls, whether physical, sexual, emotional, or economic. SASA! is also an acronym for a four-phase process of behavior and social change: Start (by inviting people to discuss the topic), Awareness (by exploring the concept of power), Support (by mobilizing the community to change unequal gender norms), and Action (by working with a range of people to make the greatest impact).

This training reminded us that violence against women and girls 4Jis a serious problem everywhere. Participants recognized the need for combating it and motivating others to do the same. In that spirit, a small group of MCLC staff met with the facilitators to reflect on how to continue this training. The school selected two staff members that will complete the Rethinking Power program over two years, which includes trainings in Jacmel. After this they will be able to offer community trainings across Lagonav and be included in MCLC’s Institute for Learning.

Chris W. Low, Executive Director FOM
Ezner Angervil, Director MCLC

Baby Training Is Taking Off

Matènwa trainers are spreading the early childhood development training that they received last month

Thanks to Zachary Lee from the Alliance For Children for bringing Laura Peterson from THRIVE to Matènwa to train 7 of our community members in her Hands to Hearts International Early Childhood Development course. Matènwa is highly motivated to spread this information across their community and then across Lagonav. They have already begun three parent groups.

They are learning about baby cues and the learning pathways

Making Happy Babies and Happier Parents

2image008 Sponsored by the Alliance for Children, these are Haiti’s first Hands to Hearts International graduates of the Early Childhood Development Training Program. Friends of Matènwa is proud to be partnering with Alliance For Children to better the lives of at risk children, starting at age 0.

Zackery Lee from The Alliance for Children Zackery Lee from The Alliance for Children[/caption]
We want to thank Zachary Lee from the Alliance For Children for bringing Laura Peterson from THRIVE to Matènwa to train 7 of our community members in her Hands to Hearts International Early Childhood Development course. Matènwa is highly motivated to spread this information across their community and then across Lagonav. They have already begun three parent groups.
3image010Francelia demonstrates how to give baby massage. Through this practice she is building social emotional trust. She is also showing parents how to read their babies’ cues.

4image011Matènwa is happy to host Alliance for Children’s trainees from Kenscoff. Here they are learning to read baby cues shown on the cards.

5image007Here are the initial trainers and trainees of Matènwa’s new program for early childhood development.

The Chicken or the Egg?


We want to thank Greater Good and all their supporters who donated a chicken to our community. Now the children of Matènwa have more protein in their diet! Every afternoon, a big tub of eggs are boiled by our high school students. As you can see, the kids are appreciative and so delighted!