a repurposed Starfish

One of our core beliefs within Touch of Hope is family preservation. Haiti has orphanages everywhere and most have been founded on business principles. Parents relinquish their children to orphanages because they believe their children’s livelihoods will be better within four walls of an institution than in their own homes. The cycle is vicious.

Recently I was told about a young man who was raised in an orphanage himself and now works for an organization that brings teams into Haiti so visitors can visit orphanages. This young man sees how easily it is to find “supporters” and wants to now start an orphanage himself. He knows of three young mamas with little ones all under the age of five. He wants to take these little ones away from their mamas and start an orphanage. And who can blame him? He’s been raised this way and he’s seen how easily one can make a living this way. And who’s to blame the mamas, if they’re being promised bright futures for their kiddos?

Like I said, it’s a vicious cycle.

We are trying to break this cycle through the Starfish program. And let me be the first to say, it’s easier said than done.

The Starfish program exists to keep families together. When young mamas come to our gates and want to relinquish their babies to the orphanage, we quickly step in and explain how we believe families need to stay together.

I’ll never forget the day I met Kenya and Afaina. Afaina was 18-months-old at the time, severely malnourished and had lost her papa in a car accident several months prior. Mama bear, Kenya, now had nowhere to stay with her little one and lost all means to provide for Afaina after the car accident. Kenya, with tears in her eyes, asked if we could take Afaina. I tried taking Afaina from her mama’s arms just to play, but she had the tightest of grips on her mama and wouldn’t let go. The attachment was so intense; I could feel it in the deepest parts of my soul. Even though my intentions were innocent and playful to take her from her mama’s arms, the idea of truly separating them seemed cruel and unjust. There was no way we could separate them.

As of February 1st, we started back up a revamped and more focused program. Kenya was the first mama admitted. We have twenty-four women in the program, who are being led by two amazing leaders, Sarah and Filane. The two will now lead weekly meetings instead of bi-weekly meetings. We came across a Christian-based business curriculum that they’re now implementing into the teachings. They’re also going to start teaching basic reading and writing to the women, since over half of them are illiterate.

Filane is going to do weekly visits to their homes, where we hope deeper relationships can be formed. While providing safe housing, education for their kids and opportunities of employment, we believe the biggest thing we can do for these mamas is allowing them to have a voice and let them recognize how they’re loved and cherished by not only their heavenly Father but by they their sisters in Christ, too.

Lastly, we have set a timeline on the program by making it a yearlong program. Starting in February, we hope by December we will have seen growth and provided opportunities for these mamas that we will allow us to graduate all the women from the program. The biggest issue I was personally having with the program – making me super unmotivated – was that it felt like it was going nowhere, with no light at the end of the tunnel. Refining it and setting an end date, keeps all of us more focused and motivated.

Overall goals for 2018 ::

  • Invest in the women so they can recognize their identity in Christ
  • Ensure all families have safe housing
  • Pay for a year’s schooling for all Starfish children
  • Provide business teaching and training so women can apply for small business loans to start their own small businesses

How can you get involved?

  • Raise money to provide a family with a new home. At the moment, twelve mamas and her babes are in need of new homes. We hope to raise the funds to be able to provide new homes to as many families as possible. Cost of a new home? $3,200 for a single bedroom and $4,200 for two bedrooms. Both houses include an outdoor latine. For more information, send an e-mail to touchofhopehaiti@gmail.com
  • Donate money to our Starfish Schooling Fund. While we can’t provide education to all the children until they graduate, we can make the promise to pay for a year’s schooling. We need approximately $5,000/year to ensure all Starfish children’s school fees are paid.
  • Donate money to our Small Business Loan program. Once the women have completed their business teachings, they will have the opportunity to apply for a business loan. All applicants will be reviewed and approved by our Haitian leadership staff. Loans will be paid back interest free and payments will be generated back into the fund. We need approximately $7,500 for our loan program.

We have big hopes and big dreams for these women. It’s hard work and most days we feel like we are crawling trying to advance the Kindgom, but it’s a slow Kingdom coming and we are honored to be a part of the smallest of advancements. We pray for lives changed. We pray for a future with no orphanages and for opportunities to come our way that will allow mamas to care for and provide for their own.




Starfish Graduation

Starfish. Blessed Starfish.

It’s a beautiful idea on paper, but it’s much harder lived out. It’s my biggest burden, yet biggest blessing. It gives me the opportunity to serve 21 women, pouring into them so they can better care for the kiddos. It’s mundane work most days, as it’s a lot of budgeting, teaching and strategizing…a slow kingdom coming kind of work. But, it’s kingdom work nonetheless.

Some of the women have been in the Starfish program for 3+ years. I’ve seen so much in just the short year and half I have been leading the program, but over the past six months the Lord has been stirring a new vision for the program in not only my heart but in mama Sarah’s (Haitian woman who helps me lead the program) heart as well. The Lord has been working in the hearts of several other women who we call the “godmothers” – essentially mentors – and they want to be more committed to seeing lives transformed through this program as well.

So, this past week we graduated all twenty-one women from the program, hoping that all we have done and taught and loved have left them standing taller and stronger. We wish we could have done it all but we hope for all the places we have fallen short the Lord will intervene.

As for the future, we are hiring Filane, a dear friend of mine who has a heart for Jesus and a heart to pray for the suffering, as a full-time Starfish staff. She will join Sarah and I as we prepare a program with further teachings and mentorship. We are currently putting together and finding curriculum for a business course, marriage counseling, literacy course and further hygiene and better health practices.

I have a file filled with 85 forms of women who have come to me in the last year and half looking for help + hope. In the month of January, our hopes are to follow up and visit these women to admit 20 women into our revamped Starfish program. Please pray for us and we will need so much wisdom and courage to decide who will be the next faces in our program. Pray for Filane as she will be transitioning into a new job. Pray for Sarah as she has been sick and will need strength to carry out all of her responsibilities. Pray for the next group of women who will enter into this program. Pray for God to show up for these women and we can be vessels for all of His good gifts.

For more information on the Starfish program, click here.

We are always looking for people to partner with us in our efforts of orphan prevention through the Starfish program. Email us at touchofhopehaiti@gmail.com if you would like to learn more about partnership with this program.

All the love from Haiti,



April Newsletter

Dear Ministry Partners,

As always, time goes by so quickly and we realized it has been six months since we sent out our last newsletter. It is time to give everyone an update on all the great things God is doing through Touch of Hope in the community of Simonette. Perhaps the biggest (or best) thing since the last newsletter was the birth of Rubie Jo to Kayla and Webert on October 11. It was a blessing that Kayla’s whole family was able to be in the States for the birth. It was a very difficult process to get her other three kids their VISA’s, but they persevered and God answered all of our prayers. We are looking forward to Kayla’s family coming back in the month of June for our daughter Megan’s wedding.

Our newest ministry, the bakery (Boulangerie Liberte’, which means freedom bakery), opened in September. The bakery was built five years ago by a Haitian businessman that has a weekend home in our village. He was trying to help the community by giving it a business and the profits were to stay in the community. Unfortunately, it was seldom open because he could never get decent managers. He gave TOH the building and equipment to use indefinitely. Justine Otero joined our staff in July to become the bakery manager. Today the bakery employees 10 people and puts out 4-5 thousand pieces of bread a day. We are struggling to get it to break even financially because the price of bread is so low in our area. Please pray for Justine as she diligently works to develop new products and markets for the bakery.

In January we reluctantly had to say goodbye to two of our North American staff at Tytoo. After nearly two years of serving at Tytoo, both Ben & Lindsey decided it was time to return to the States and Canada (Lindsey is from Ontario). They are both terrific young adults and are greatly missed. They both worked very hard on training Haitians to take over most of their responsibilities. We then spent a lot of time in prayer about how God wanted us to proceed with leadership at Tytoo.

The result of this time of transition and prayer is a new “Ministry Team” that will be the leaders of all ministries at Tytoo. One of our goals of this team is to have the Haitians being the points of contact. We are trying to keep the “white people” in the background. Our leadership team consists of Francia, Sarah, Gary, Taunya, Kayla, and Webert. Francia previously ran our medical clinic and has been going to college for a degree in social work. She will be involved in all our ministries at Tytoo as a social worker and will be conducting various classes at the school including sex education. Sarah started at Tytoo as a cook and we have gradually given her more responsibility as we saw her many talents. She is a great leader in the Starfish program among her many duties at the orphanage. Gary has been a security guard at Tytoo for the past few years and is a leader in our church. His main focus on the team is mentoring the boys and being the spiritual leader of the ministries. Taunya will continue in her capacity as orphanage director (it is hard to believe that in June she will be celebrating 4 years of service at Tytoo). Kayla’s focus will be the starfish program and Webert will be in charge of all the government and legal issues. We are very excited about this team and are praying that this will overcome some of the issues we had with leadership in the past. We are also praying that the “team” approach will help with some of the “burnout” issues that we have been experiencing. We are also encouraging more breaks for our North American staff and helping to cover some of those expenses.

The Starfish program continues to grow and develop. There are usually 25 ladies in the program and 50 on the waiting list. With an average of 3 to 4 children per household, this program directly ministers to a lot of people and is vital to keeping kids out of the orphanage. The goal of this program is to help each of these families to become sustainable by assuring that they have a livable house, the kids are in school, and the mothers have some type of income. We average building one house a month for the Starfish program. One of the awesome things lately is how some mature Christian ladies in our community have started mentoring these Starfish ladies. Also a couple of our employment initiatives are really starting to take off. Rosie’s Greeting Cards is currently employing nine ladies and three are working for Salsa Sisters. We will be going public in a couple of months with our plans for Rosie’s Expansion, which will include building a new retail store in Haiti that will also have space to operate these two ventures out of.

The school continues to provide a quality education to over 1,000 kids in our community. Webert has such a great staff there that he has the ability to travel to the States for a month at a time without any problems. We are so blessed to have such an awesome staff. We believe our next project at the school will be a computer lab, not sure of the time frame or details yet.

As always, we stand in awe of what God is doing through Touch of Hope. We started TOH six years ago to build one simple school building and give Webert a small operating budget. Today we directly employ over 125 people and minister to 100’s of people on a daily basis. We could have never imagined it. To God be the Glory!!! Thank you for your support of our ministries, we absolutely could not do this without each and every one of you.

God Bless.











Starfish Program: goals for April


A starfish child receiving a new bed!

As we continue to move forward with the Starfish program and its long list of needs, we have decided it is necessary to sit down on a monthly basis and decide where our focus will be for the month to come. These decisions are made around a table with Sarah, Francia and myself (all three are part of the leadership team at Tytoo) along with the godmothers of the Starfish program (click here to learn about the godmothers).

In the months of February and March the goals were to find better housing for Olnite and Jasmine plus see the completion of a water cistern project for Bernadette. We praise God as Jasmine was blessed with a new home and will be able to bring her children back from extended family to live with her. We were also able to celebrate with Bernadette as she bought her first truck of water for her water cistern. Bernadette lives in a new development of houses, but the development has no water source and people in the area walk up to a mile round-trip for a single bucket of water. Bernadette came to us with the idea of building a large cistern so she can sell water to people in the village. Yesterday, during the Starfish meeting, she excitedly told us that someone had bought her entire first truck of water so she could share water with all of her neighbors. She explained, “I knew this cistern would give glory to God, but I didn’t know it would happen so quickly!” The physical cistern was built as a gift from donated funds to Touch of Hope and we give ownership to Bernadette, as she will pay back the costs of the laborers. We can’t wait to see what God will do with this business and through Bernadette!


The new water cistern, all that is missing is fresh coat of paint!


Jasmine and her father in front of her new home

During the month of March, we also trained four new women how to make hand embroidered cards for Rosie’s boutique. The cards are able to provide a fair wage to eight employees and we can’t wait to see what God will also do through this job creation initiative. For more information about the cards and how to purchase them or sell them, send e-mail to rosiesboutique.haiti@gmail.com.



Juliette and Marie Maude working on finishing the cards at Rosie’s Boutique


Marie Maude, working on cards at her home, and her two daughters


The women being trained to make the cards!


A beautiful, finished set of cards!

Last week I was able to treat Sarah, Francia and the godmothers to dinner at a new pizza restaurant near Simonette. We strategized and discussed new goals for the month of April.

Our priorities for the month to come:

  • Find funding to give Emilienne, Imyolene and Olnite small business loans as the three of them have come up with business plans that include catching and selling fish, selling pate (a local pastry) and selling items for doing laundry.
  • Repairing Gertrude’s house – the funding for this has graciously been provided!
  • Find funding to build Olnite and Marilene new homes



Gertrude’s front porch will no longer stand as a threat to falling on her children once it is repaired in the month to come.


Gertrude and her youngest daughter showing me where the rain comes in.

*Olnite’s extended family lost everything during Hurricane Matthew back in October and has slowly been moving to find family who didn’t suffer loss from the hurricane. Olnite has graciously taken in four extended family members, plus her mother. Providing Olnite with a new home will allow her to provide a safe shelter not only for her and her four children, but also to her extended family members who now live with her.

*Marilene is the mother to five children; the youngest two are twins who no longer live with her because her living situation is not safe for them. Without a bed or dry floor, the young twins struggled to stay healthy and Marilene had no choice but to move them to live with an extended family member. Providing Marilene with a new home will allow her family to be together under one roof!


Marielene’s current living situation

It has been put on my heart to write these priorities down and to share them with our Touch of Hope supporters. I know so many of you want to help, but you’re not sure what that looks like. So, here they are, our most immediate needs. May this list, these names and their stories be the visual you need if you’re looking to get involved with Touch of Hope!

I sincerely pray over these needs and I trust the Lord will move hearts so the funding may be provided to allow lives and hearts to be transformed in Haiti as well.

For more information on the Starfish program and its goals, click here.

Have questions or want more information on the women in the program, send an inquiry email to touchofhopehaiti@gmail.com

To donate, click here.


Five of the Starfish women meeting at Emilienne’s home

Love from Haiti,


(These stories, photos and names have been shared with permission from the individuals mentioned above.)

Starfish update: mamas and godmothers

Over the last six months, Touch of Hope has made a lot of transitions in our leadership and one of the biggest transitions has been me – Kayla – moving into a leadership position for the Starfish program.

First it’s interesting that God would transition me into this role at such a vulnerable and emotional season of my life. Last July I led my first Starfish meeting and was 6 months pregnant at the time, trying to manage school registration for 1,000 students, running my business Rosie’s and trying to keep it all together as we fought to get papers for our first three children. During the month of July, I would meet two other Starfish women just as pregnant as myself and admitted a third woman, who was 23-years-old, 7 months pregnant with her third child and homeless into the program. My heart would continue to break on the daily, as I would take on the needs of the Starfish program.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I made it through the summer and came back last November – with a newborn! – ready to take on the long list of demands and needs for the program. However, that readiness state-of-mind quickly vanished and I reached a state of burnout very quickly as I transitioned to Haiti with my newborn.

In my desperation and weariness, the Lord opened my eyes to a group of women who I’ve been investing in since I first moved to Haiti nearly five years ago. When I moved to Haiti in June 2012, a jewelry company initially employed me and my responsibilities were to oversee and manage the artisans. To say a lot has happened since then would be an understatement, but a constant in my life has always been this group of women and one special man – God bless him for dealing with so many women!

I’ve seen these women rise up and grow in so many ways. So, I thought how perfect would it be for these women to start giving back to women who are in the same positions they were in nearly half a decade ago. I was nervous to ask them to join the Starfish program at first, but they’ve taken the reins and done more in two months than I imagined.

Over the course of the last two months, we have started a godmother program for the women in the Starfish program. We have divided the twenty Starfish women in the program into four small groups and each group has 2 or 3 godmothers who will mentor to them as they go through the program.

My vision is to see the godmothers do house visits, where they will pray and encourage each other. They can help the women come up with business ideas, as we will continue giving small business loans (they know way more about the local markets and demands than I do!) They will help me prioritize the needs of the women like who needs a house or bed first, who should be the next to graduate, who should be the next to be admitted, etc.

My heart is to keep investing in the godmothers as I hope to one day see a core group of women leaders leading other women out of poverty in a dignified, God-glorifying way. The last thing I love about the godmothers doing more of the leading is that it takes me – the white American – out of the forefront of the program and puts me in the background, delegating money, raising funds, encouraging, etc…and, truly, that’s where I want to be!

And, because I want to brag about how awesome these godmothers are, I have to tell you a success story in the making…

Late January I took a two-week trip to the States and while I was gone a few of the godmothers met a woman named Genese. Genese is 23-years-old, was basically homeless and doing everything she could to take care of her five children. A godmother, Yolande, just finished her brand new house in the beginning of January (I’ve been working closely with her on this building project for the last TWO years) and before moving her own things in, she moved Genese and her five children into her home. Just last week I found a small house to rent for Genese and her children, but Yolande insisted on letting them stay at her house longer. My heart about exploded as Yolande taught me what true hospitality and grace look like. Last week another godmother spent her afternoon sewing new uniforms for Genese’s kids; they will start school this week! And lastly, I was advised to make Genese the newest employee to Salsa Sisters, so she has been cooking up salsa with me the last two weeks. Genese has the warmest smile and I can’t wait to watch her flourish under the care of Yolande and the rest of the women.

I also can’t wait to see what other stories will unfold and the lives that will be impacted as the force of the godmothers take over the Starfish program…

You can be a part of this exciting new adventure with the godmothers by making a one-time donation to the Starfish program or signing up for a monthly sponsorship fee (see Donate tab) The funds for this program help us in so many life-changing ways…getting women and their kids off the streets by paying their rent, helping with school fees to get their children enrolled in school, giving small business loans to help create an income for the family, building bunk beds so their children no longer sleep on the dirt ground…the list goes on and on!

For more Starfish stories, sign up to follow the Touch of Hope blog as we will continue writing stories of lives transformed through the Starfish program.

Christmas Gifts 2016

Over Christmas break more than 100 sponsored children received back packs full of toys, pencils, notebooks, toothbrush, toothpaste and a water bottle. Extra money came in for gifts, so we were also able to bless over 150 other students in need with backpacks full of rice, beans, spaghetti and oil for the new year.

Thank you to everyone who sent in money for these children to receive gifts and food over the holidays!