Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HOME AGAIN – Ronald Jean Claude, a staffer with Little Footprints Big Steps, is seen Monday with group founder Morgan Wienberg in Whitehorse. She is visiting her hometown before making a keynote address in Vancouver later this month.

Little Footprints founder visits her hometown

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.

By Stephanie Waddell on April 11, 2018

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- and-greet.

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 come up.

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.

Comments (8)

Up 3 Down 0

AL ALCOCK on Apr 17, 2018 at 2:58 pm

I don't often wade into these discussions, but truly I feel I must in this regard. I think of the world as my neighbourhood/community. What I do to assist the folks right next door why would I not want to do for the folks half a mile away and so on.

Morgan is not trying to save the world, just a corner of a very small part she is trying to have an impact. Good for her and anyone else that wants to look after their neighbourhood/community. Many of us truly like humanitarian work. It is not for everyone. Each of us want to live in a better world and for sure make the world better place when we depart even if it is in some small way.

It is not a calling but more of being compassionate. What difference does it make if that compassion extends itself abroad or at home. For those that criticize others for their efforts I can only say you too can reach out in your community and provide assistance if you choose. You may not agree that others do what they do in the humanitarian field, but please don't mock what they do in a public forum. You are really not doing yourself any favours.

Humanitarian work is not about kumbaya, cultism or trying to put yourself out there on center stage with the "look at me" persona. There may be some that are infected with such traits but my experience, and knowledge, of those who expend themselves in this service are not looking for glory.

To all who do humanitarian work - thank you for your service. Perhaps one day we will meet up in the field.

Up 2 Down 2

Stan Winter on Apr 15, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Josey Wales you were a little too negative with your comments.
Really, how many young people have do such unselfish work. Is it too much for you to apologize and soften your comments a little?

Please let me know!

Up 4 Down 2

Doug Caldwell on Apr 15, 2018 at 1:46 pm

A number of Yukoners heed the call to action following natural disasters in other parts of the world. Some work for the International Red Cross and other organizations to make things right again following calamity and disaster where they live. MS. Wienberg is one of these fine people who decided to stay after all the international media went home with their story about the pain and suffering going on. I doubt many would endure what she has had to remain there and help. Bravo to you Morgan! I admire your courage and determination, you are a shining example to other volunteers working here at home or in other places around the world where they are needed.

Up 7 Down 2

Jean Dacko on Apr 12, 2018 at 10:07 pm

Its not every youth who donates there time to such a worthy cause. Maybe its not in Canada, but its still needed. I commend her efforts and don't really care if she has a yukon health care card.

Up 3 Down 2

Frit on Apr 12, 2018 at 7:46 pm

At least shes not wasting time hanging out in the local papers comment section

Up 3 Down 2

CJ on Apr 12, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Geez, Josey, did you attack Mother Theresa, too? Morgan is a remarkable woman, and this seems to be some kind of calling. I think she's above criticism, but I guess you have talents that I don't in that area.

Up 4 Down 2

My Opinion on Apr 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm

@Josey I said nothing about Haiti at all or Race and was censored. I guess questioning a campaign is wrong. Liberals looking after Liberals.

Up 2 Down 3

Josey Wales on Apr 12, 2018 at 6:53 am

Wonder if she picked up a new yukon healthcare card, whilst she is on her virtuous tour?
Good thing every person in Canada is all good, needs no leg up, deals with zero adversity, eats three nutritious meals at least each day, and can be assured that our 1st world status...will never drop.
Despite the best efforts of folks obsessing over importing the 3rd world into what seems to me, the once proud and strong Canada in its death roll.
If my post goes up, let the attacks begin...said nary a thing on race...but I know what is coming.
In today’s Canada you are not permitted, nor tolerated when one has opinions contrary to the PC Crusade, the SJW Crusade and in particular the dilution of this once great country.
I did lots of time far above our tree line, trust me...there is heaps that can be done without ever leaving THIS country.
Mind you not as warm and sunny there.
Despite the tone of this post, it is commendable the personal effort shown by Morgan to help...seriously.
She can choose whatever spot on the globe for her mission, as is her right.
The points I wish to make often make folks cringe, as it seems to really upset folks thinking of our own and the reality that everything done there can be done here.
...let the mob free, as mobs rule these days.

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