For Morgan Wienberg, a visit back to her hometown is a chance to personally thank the many Yukoners who have supported her Little Footprints Big Steps (LFBS) child
protection organization in Haiti.
Wienberg founded and heads up the group.
She has been in Whitehorse since last week as she gets set to present as the keynote speaker at the Rose Charities 20th Anniversary International Development Conference
in Vancouver April 20-21.
Wienberg has been speaking to Yukoners during presentations to local Rotary Clubs and at her alma mater, F.H. Collins Secondary School.
She and LFBS staffer Ronald Jean Claude, who also made the trip from Haiti, will be at the Whitehorse Public Library from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. today for an informal meet-
They also want to extend a personal thank you to those who have supported the organization over the years and speak to the work that’s been done since Wienberg was last in Whitehorse in 2016.
“There’s been a lot of changes,” she said in an interview Monday afternoon.
Her last visit was shortly after Hurricane Matthew had ravaged much of the country.
In the community where Wienberg lives, the hurricane ripped down trees and buildings as pieces of metal roofing were sent careening into the streets among electrical wires
and other materials.
As Wienberg described it at the time: “It was like walking through a war zone.”
For a long time after that, Wienberg said Monday, she and LFBS staff were in emergency mode as they worked to help the children and families they assist who were
impacted by the hurricane.
Along with operating safe houses for children, the group works to reunite children with their families and assist those families.
“It was a dark time,” Wienberg said of the hurricane’s aftermath. “I didn’t know how we’d bounce back.”
It was thanks to an influx of donations, including many from Yukoners as well as grants from organizations like Lumos, that LFBS was able to rebuild and “really grow and
strengthen our partnerships.”
“I’m really proud (of what’s been accomplished),” Wienberg said.
Funding allowed for the organization to have three doctors on staff for a year. That meant it could host a number of medical clinics and work with social services to help
identify future needs. A nurse remains on staff, and the organization has a pharmacy in place as well now.
A greater partnership with social services officials has resulted in improved tracking of orphanages and children who live there.
In one case, it resulted in the closure of an orphanage and a total of 19 children being united with their families upon closure.
Funding provided to LFBS also allowed it to hire an agronomist who’s been working to help its families grow food, as well as train youth.
The group is also using land it purchased to build on as a space for gardening until it has enough money to proceed with building construction.
A partnership with Maxima, a company in Haiti, has also seen LFBS receive a prefabricated home for each one purchased. They have been able to provide housing for 30 families through that program.
“That allows us to have a greater impact,” Wienberg said.
Maxima also works with LFBS to provide apprenticeships for youth.
While the organization was operating in emergency mode for months after the hurricane, Wienberg eventually began feeling burned out. She realized her staff was likely experiencing the same thing as they put everything they had into their work.
That made Wienberg take a step back and start making the well-being of the 17 staff members a priority.
“My team is amazing,” Wienberg said. “It feels like a big family.”
It means LFBS is making a point of providing time off for staffers when they need to deal with family situations that may come up.
She’s been providing most weekends off and planning staff events, and having weekly staff meetings to look at how the organization is doing and work on any issues that
She also decided to bring Jean Claude with her on this trip – his first outside of his Haiti home.
He works with many of the youth LFBS assists – and who many Canadian supporters of the group directly sponsor. Consequently, Wienberg thought it would be a good
opportunity for sponsors to hear from Jean Claude directly about the youth they’re sponsoring.
Jean Claude has also been with LFBS since its early days in 2011, and can speak to the group’s work in the country.
“I felt it would be a good fit,” Wienberg said of introducing Jean Claude to Canada.
As LFBS continues its efforts, Wienberg said, she wants partnerships and work with organizations like Maxima and social services to continue and grow.