Free The Children was founded in 1995 by then 12 year old Craig Kielberger, with the intention of freeing the children around the world: Free the children from poverty. Free the children from exploitation. Free the children from the notion that they are powerless to effect change. Today Free The Children is an international foundation serving over 2.3 million youths around the world.
Free The Children’s work in Haiti began over 12 years ago. After the 2010 earthquake, which caused devastation that brought Haiti’s economy to near collapse, FTC doubled its efforts in the country, creating their ‘adopt a village’ program which focuses on five primary needs that must be addressed in each village: education, clean water and sanitation, health, alternative income, and agriculture & food safety.
Our Work with Free The Children
In 2012, Christine and Jonathon traveled to Haiti, meeting with Free The Children’s country director. They toured the villages of Marialapa and Dos Palais. When they arrived in Marialapa, there was one makeshift school covered in tattered cloth and falling apart.
Moving on to Dos Palais, Christine and Jonathon visited a girl’s home. There they met over 50 beautiful souls – deserving the world, but graciously making do with what they had.
FTC Haiti director, Erin Barton, explained the needs associated with both villages and the decision was made by Jonathon and Christine to fund these two projects. With the grant given to FTC Haiti in partnership with the Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons Foundation, ground was broken in the spring of 2012 on a new school dormitory in Marialapa and three new dormitories at the Dos Palais Girl’s Home.
Christine and Jonathon returned to the Haiti in the spring of 2014 to tour the new school and dormitories. While there, they helped with the finishing touches: painting, planting trees and delivering school supplies and bunk beds. They also met with teachers and students to gather information about future concerns and needs.
Inspired by the people of Haiti, JDFF is intent on expanding our efforts there; looking to the future we are interested in long-term sustainability, economic independence and stabilizing the education system.
A Personal Message from Christine:
When I was 27 years old I wrote a letter to god. It was simple: Dear Lord, please give me the tools and show me the way so that someday I may have the opportunity to help children around the world less fortunate than I. Some years later, and with the grace of god and the help of some extraordinary people I am now able to give a hand up to the underserved children in Haiti.
The children of Haiti have been through so much in their short lives, and the little that I do can never compare to the overwhelming love and generosity that flows freely from their hearts toward my husband and I each time we visit. Whether we’re in Marialapa, painting schools and braiding hair, or in Dos Palais, building bunk beds and playing games, reminders of the enduring spirit of the Haitian people constantly surround us. And each time we leave, though we are a little sad because of it, we know it is time to leave because a job has been done: New beds are ready for sleepy heads, new school books await curious fingers, and new wells are full of fresh water. And every time I leave, happy because of what we’ve accomplished, I can’t wait to return and get started on the next project. The children of Haiti deserve more than what my two hands and soul can give, but as long as I am alive I will return, always giving.