Archive | June 2012

My Mother, the Saint

PHOTOS BY SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF Eight­ year ­old Kelette looked at the sink with no running water at the orphanage in Kenscoff, Haiti. The toilet is a hole covered by cement leading to the open hillside.

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A lot of people ask me what has inspired me to follow the path I have working first in the U.S. nonprofit sector and now in international development. One of my inspirations has been my mother, Filis, who founded the first international adoption agency in Massachusetts back in the 1970s. She took so many trips to and from Colombia working with my orphanage that she was suspected of being a drug mule.

After many years of placing thousands of kids, including myself, in adoptive homes, my mother started another adventure as the founder and director of a foundation that helps those children who may never be adopted.

But, don’t take my word for it, read the incredible article below that was recently on the front page of the Boston Globe about her, the Alliance for Children Foundation, and their work in Haiti. I am so proud of my mom and the great work she has done. If you are as inspired by her work as I am, please consider visiting the Alliance for Children Foundation’s website and seeing how you can get involved.

Mari

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24 Jun 2012 Boston Globe STORY BY BRIAN MACQUARRIE | PHOTOS BY SUZANNE KREITER | GLOBE STAFF

Out of the shadows

KENSCOFF, Haiti — Filis Casey pitches and rocks in the rear seat of a slow­moving sport utility vehicle, lurching up a corkscrew mountain road until she reaches her destination: a cluster of dusty buildings with leaking roofs and unfinished walls that hold one crude toilet, dank rooms crammed with bunk beds, and 52 orphans with little supervision and little to do.

From her home in Newton, Mass., Casey has traveled the world, lifting children out of the shadows and suffering and into adoptive homes. But she has never seen anything like the problems that plague Haiti, where the overwhelming misery can easily make an orphan’s plight invisible.

“It broke my heart to see where they live,” says Casey, 68, executive director of the Alliance for Children Foundation. “You can’t even breathe in there. It’s dark. I felt that nobody should live that way.”

For Casey, who has helped place 6,000 children in adoptive homes since 1974, feelings quickly become actions. As a result, the orphans of Kenscoff are on the verge of a dramatically better life: new, safe housing; a chance at education; and regular attention from dedicated caregivers.

In the calculus of post­earthquake Haiti, these children would ordinarily be marked for lives of destitution. Some lost parents or siblings in the 2010 earthquake, others were abandoned on the side of the road, and some were brought here by sobbing mothers who said they could not afford to support another child.

“I feel that Haiti is much more needy than any place I have ever been,” Casey says. “The chaos is so unrelenting.” Read More…

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Work in Progress: Photos for Mujeres Cambia Website

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Paul and I have been working on the Mujeres Cambia website. It’s not completely ready yet but will be soon. Above, enjoy a slideshow of new images of necklaces that will be featured on the site.

The Group Fund idea that we helped to start has been extremely successful. 20% of each sale goes towards a group fund that the women control through a majority vote. Members decide what to spend the money on and it is completely funded by money that the women make themselves so it’s sustainable.

The first time we decided to have oversized postcards in English printed on recycled card stock for our U.S.-based clients. The second vote we decided to buy group bead-making supplies. The third vote we decided to have brochures printed in Spanish for in-country clients in addition to buying a Domain Name for Mujeres Cambia. So, we’re working on the website now and it’s going great. The women are super excited about seeing themselves and their products on the World Wide Web.

Currently, we have about $100 in the Group Fund but we haven’t yet voted on how to spend it! The women are looking at buying a paper cutter ($40), a sewing machine ($100), or saving it. We’ll keep you posted.

Enjoy, Mari

DIY: Recycled Coin Purse

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I learned how to make this awesome recycled coin purse during Peace Corps Training and I just taught a group of people last Saturday at my weekly recycled art class. I think they turned out really well! Visit Instructables.com for the entire tutorial.

Enjoy! Mari

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Boats: Four Faves

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Design Inspiration

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The New York Times Magazine featured the above artsy couple and their home in the Spring 2012 Design Issue. By “artsy” I mean two artists, Francis Upritchard and Martino Gamper living and working in London. I’m totally inspired by their unique, eclectic style and I hope that one day if Paul and I ever have a permanent home (or more permanent than let’s say 2 years…) we will be able to translate our creativity into a space like this.

Enjoy, Mari

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Turtle Rescue Squad

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The other day a group of kids found a beached tortoise and asked for our help. While I documented (including recording a video I haven’t yet edited but you can see a still from below) Paul helped a group of boys lift and carry the tortoise into the open sea. Coincidentally, this tortoise only had three legs just like our beloved turtle, Tripod! We watched as he finally got his sea legs and was able to swim out himself.

Enjoy, Mari

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How To: Open a Pizza Parlor, Part V

Throw a Grand Opening Party!

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As you can see from the images above and the video below, we had a blast at the Palmar Pizza Inauguración! From the water balloon toss to the checkers tournament to Ecuador beating Colombia in soccer (my allegiance was tested!) it was an incredible day and we feel so fortunate to have been a part of bringing this little pizza shop into existence.

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