the official pen project
by Kayla Raymond
Kendra Michael is a 12-year-old who wants to make a difference in the world. Let’s be honest, I love people who want to make a difference, especially here in Haiti. Kendra’s story started 2 summers ago when her mom, Joni, traveled to Haiti for the first time. After Joni’s trip, Kendra’s heart broke for the children of Haiti and she knew she wanted to visit this foreign land someday.
To raise money for the trip, she began making pens decorated with duct tape. Going door-to-door and telling loved ones about her dream to visit Haiti, she raised enough money to not only travel to Haiti this past July, but to also begin sponsoring two young girls through Touch of Hope.
In July, both Kendra and her mom traveled to Haiti to stay with me and meet all the familiar faces they knew through only pictures. It was such a blessing for me to see Kendra meet the two girls she sponsors in our school. Blonde haired with bright blue eyes, Kendra’s joy was so radiant as she played and loved on children both at the school and in the orphanages.
Halfway through the week, I began having conversations with Kendra’s mom. She told me she was worried they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the “duct tape pens” when they traveled back home. Kendra would be starting school, playing sports and Joni works full-time as a hairdresser and also does photography on the side. As she shared her worries with me, I saw an opportunity to minister to teenage girls right here in Simonette.
Joni had brought some duct tape and pens along, just for fun, so the next day we began teaching some girls in the village. They loved it!
Today, Kendra’s small project is turning into a huge opportunity for 15 teenage girls. At 25 goudes (around 60 cents) a pen, they are receiving a wage that can begin to teach them the responsibility of having a job and how to take care of money. All the girls have started school, so they come and make pens for a few hours when they are finished with school. They work upstairs with the ViBella ladies and myself and I’m seeing great opportunities for the ViBella ladies to become positive influences on the young girls, too.
I’m seriously so excited for this project. I’m so in awe at how God uses faithful servants like Kendra to create amazing possibilities for girls in a land far away from Kendra in northwest Iowa. Lastly, I am so very thankful for the chance to work with all of these girls. It is an amazing place of fellowship when the seven ViBella employees and fifteen young girls are working together on the porch in downtown Simonette.
Let me now introduce you to “pen project” girls…
Maslana is 16-years-old and is in her third year of high school at Mission of Hope. Her favorite tape pattern is polka dots. The money she is earning from the pens is helping her go to school and buy cosmetics.
Roberta is 14-years-old and is in her first year of high school at Mission of Hope. Her favorite tape pattern is the polka dots and butterflies. She says the money she will earn will help her pay for transportation to go to school.
Ricarlene is 19-years-old and is in eleventh grade at Mission of Hope. Her favorite tape pattern is also polka dots. The pen project is helping her go to school and buy other small necessities she needs.
Fabienne is 17-years-old and is in eighth grade at Trinity school in Source Matelas. She is the younger sister to Judeline, an employee at Vi Bella. Her favorite tape pattern is tye dye and she is saving her money to buy a new backpack for school.
Felicita is 16-years-old and is in ninth grade at the Compassion sponsored school in Simonette. Her favorite tape pattern is polka dots. The money she earns from the pens helped her prepare for school.
Emmanuella is 14-years-old and is also in the ninth grade at the Compassion sponsored school in Simonette. Her favorite tape pattern is cheetah. She says the money she receives will be used to buy new barrettes and things for school.
Becherlande is 13-years-old and was one of the very first teenage girls I got to know in Simonette. She is in seventh grade at the Community School for Children of Simonette (also known as Webert’s school). Her favorite tape pattern is tye dye with pink. She says she will use her money to buy treats at school and to also help her family.
Karm is 13-years-old and is in the seventh grade at the Compassion sponsored school in Simonette. Her favorite tape pattern is cheetah with purple. She wants to save her earnings to buy clothes for church.
Viliane is 17-years-old and the daughter of Vivanne, an employee at Vi Bella. She attends Trinity school in Source Matelas and is in the eleventh grade. Her favorite tape pattern is with butterflies. She is using her earnings to help her family.
Falonne is 17-years-old and is in the ninth grade at the Compassion sponsored school in Simonette. Her favorite tape pattern is cheetah matched with purple. She uses her money to buy things for school.
Dana is 13-years-old and is in the seventh grade at Webert’s school. Her favorite tape pattern is leopard with lime green. She wants to use her money to help her family.
Seadley is Dana’s older sister and is 16-years-old. She is in her third year of high school at Mission of Hope. Her favorite tape pattern is cheetah paired with purple. She says she uses her money to help her family and buy school supplies.
Christandrae is the youngest of the girls, 12-years-old. She attends the Compassion sponsored school in Simonette and is in the sixth grade. Her favorite pattern is with stripes paired with lime green. She says she will use her money to buy food.
Micheline is 14-years-old and also in the sixth grade at the Compassion sponsored school in Simonette. Her favorite tape pattern is cheetah with bright pink. She uses her earnings to buy things for school.
Bellard is the oldest of the girls. She is 21-years-old and is in her third year of high school at the Trinity school in Source Matelas. Her favorite tape pattern is tye dye paired with bright pink. She also plans on using her earnings to buy things for school.
Aren’t they beautiful?
If you would like to learn more or get involved with the pen project, go to Facebook and like Kendra’s page: Kendra Michael, A Kid Making A Difference. Through that facebook page you can contact them if you would like to order some of their pens. We are also asking for donations; our supply list is short: scissors, any color of duct tape and bic pens. Duct tape would be the material we are most in need of right now, patterns and colors.
To God be the Glory.