About five months ago, Paul Foster of Norwich received a shocking text. Marcel Jean, director and manager of the Tysea Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti, was reaching out to Foster to let him know the funding the orphanage relied on to operate, was suddenly about to disappear. Their main benefactor was pulling out and the orphanage would have to close.

Foster had met Jean five years prior and gotten involved in Tysea by helping with educational costs; now Jean was reaching out to see if Foster might be able to assist him raise the funds to save the orphanage. Foster was immediately ready to help prevent the closing of the orphanage: “I couldn’t let that happen, I wouldn’t let that happen,” he said. 

Paul Foster of Norwich works to save the orphanage

The Tysea Orphanage was founded in 2013 in the Carrefour neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Tysea is an acronym for the creole phrase “Timoun Yo Se Espwa Ayiti” meaning “Children are Haiti’s Hope.” Tysea is now home to over 30 children, providing them with a safe home, regular meals, clean water, access to education and recreation, and dental and medical support.

Answering Jean’s call, Foster sprung into action. In addition to grassroots fundraising, Foster formed a non-profit, Partners for Global Change, to help him in this mission to save the orphanage. Foster and his team have already raised $12,000 with many of the donations coming from Norwich and Thetford, but they still have a ways to go.

“I’m going with the idea of the Upper Valley adopting the orphanage,” Foster says, “I hope to make the Tysea Orphanage a household name in the Upper Valley.” There are already indications Foster’s work is paying off; he recalls being stopped in Dan & Whit’s by fellow residents to talk to him about Tysea.

Important to Foster is creating sustainable funding for the orphanage. The project had a lot of momentum to begin with, he says, but now it’s time to use strategy to figure out how to sustain this with ongoing support. In addition to looking into grants, Foster has built a weekly donation plan that he feels can be taken on by residents of the Upper Valley. With different levels of sponsorship, donors are able to give between $10.00 and $40.00 from their paycheck directly to the orphanage. “If a person can give a certain amount each week such as the cost of going out for one meal, it really can save the life of a child in Haiti. It is really going to help the child,” Foster says.

The Tysea Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti provides meals for children in need.

The situation is desperate in Haiti, Foster says, after facing serious unrest in 2021. The orphanage already had to make the move from Port-Au-Prince, where it was no longer safe, to Jacmel. Foster initially had plans to visit and considered setting up a Dartmouth medical school students service trip, but has been unable to due to the safety restrictions. “It’s hard not to visit, and I would love to meet the kids, play with them, and be a part of the community,” he says. This unrest also affects the orphanage’s ability to get support from their government; absolutely no funds are currently available to them.

Foster has spent nearly all of his life involved in community work. It was his first trip to Africa at age 17 that started his passion for helping communities in need around the world. “I fundamentally believe every child in the world deserves clean water, education, and a roof over their head. It’s at the core of who I am,” Foster says.

A native Englishman, Foster found his way to Norwich alongside his wife 35 years ago. Being a resident of the Upper Valley has also influenced Foster in building Partners for Global Change. “A lot of people in the Upper Valley are creating their own non-profits,” he says, “It’s a very empathetic community, very open to these kinds of projects.”

His hope is to sustainably fund the orphanage, improve current facilities, and ultimately have the home become a family support center. Some children have living family members who aren’t able to care for them for a number of reasons. “Ideally the children could be back in their community with support from the center, ultimately reducing the number of children in the orphanage. That feels like the right goal to have,” Foster says.

Foster has hope that Partners for Global Change will be able to take on more projects like this in the future, connecting Upper Valley residents to projects throughout the global neighborhood, all over the world. 

The Tysea Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti provides meals for children in need.

Friends of Tysea plans to have a stall at the Lebanon and Hanover Farmer’s market selling Haitian art products, Haitian food, and Support Tysea T-Shirts and hold a Haitian Art Auction.

Readers can donate at PartnersinGlobalChange.com or send a check to Partners in Global Change, 108 Academy Rd Norwich VT05055. Those interested in volunteering can email savetyseaorphangehaiti@gmail.com.

Partners for Global Change offers levels of support & readers can sponsor a child:

Gold Sponsor $40 per week

Silver Sponsor $20 per week

Bronze Sponsor $10 per week

Sustaining member one time gift of $100-500