Service Learning in Haiti

Shippensburg Friends for Gros Mangles


Please check as well our website for videos and additional photos:

Learn About Our Latest Involvement in the Village: A Dispensary Gros Mangles


 Drs. Mitaut and Ragone led a group of students to Haiti in January 2013 and again in January 2014.  Mr. Jonas Celius was the Haitian facilitator for the trip on both occasions.  The service-learning project addressed the needs of a school in Gros Mangles on the island of La Gonâve.  Students and faculty built a 5200 square feet playground for l'École Presbytérale in 2013 and completed an additional 4000 square feet in 2014.  The project was the conclusion of a six-credit seminar taken over the winter break that introduced the students to the rich history and culture of Haiti.  The seminars are offered with French and English options.  The group, which stayed at the home of the Celius family, had plenty of occasions to socialize with the people of Gros Mangles, practice French and Creole and enjoy many aspects of the life in the island.  The playground is now completed and the renovation of the dispensary of the village is in the planning stage.   A village committee was created to this effect in January 2014.


If you would like to take the seminars and participate in this meaningful service-learning project over the 2014-2015 Winter Break, please contact Drs. Mitaut and Ragone.  There will be informative sessions throughout the spring and fall 2014 semesters.

Haiti1  Haiti2 

Before and after 

 Haiti3   Haiti4 

Building the retention wall 

Left: Bryant Snyder, Dr. Ragone, Mr. Jonas Celius.

Right: Olivia Ickes, Bryant Snyder, Sam Watson.


Hauling cement 

Dr. Mitaut in the cement chain.

 Haiti6   Haiti7 

Dedication of the playground

Dr. Mitaut signing the plaque.



December 2013: Allison Hill reports to SUTV


The playground was finished in January 2014. 

Haiti 1 Haiti 2
Haiti 3 Haiti 4

Bryant Snyder came back for the project while Sarah Raudabaugh and Andrew Hutchinson joined in the efforts.  Allison Hill participated as well in the building with her professor, Dr. Kim Garris.  The two of them documented the project in film and photo and are in the process of developing a documentary.  Thank you all for your hard work and dedication!!

Mardi Gras Ball

The Shippensburg Friends for Gros Mangles held a fundraiser for the dispensary on Tuesday the 11th of February, 2014, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  The event was a Mardi Gras Ball.  It took place at the Shippensburg University Spiritual Center.  A donation of $3.00 was requested.  Beignets and King Cake were served, both traditional Mardi Gras sweets in France and Louisiana.  Dr. Ricardo led the students and other attendants into Zouk (Haitian dance) lessons.  Prizes were given to the best dancers, and the King and Queen of Mardi Gras were crowned.

Some fifty students and professors from different departments attended the event, as well as a few members of the community.

Thank you to all those who came and helped for a good cause!

Our second fundraiser was a play, A tempest from Aimé Césaire.  It took place on March 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Auditorium. 

The play was produced by permission and in association with Aimé Césaire’s beneficiaries who graciously consented to waive their fees for the live and recorded versions of this project. To them, we say, "Merci!"

The extraordinary success of the play was possible thanks to the hard work of about 40 persons.  Special thanks to Dr. Peet for his masterful directing and to Dr. Garris for sharing photos and videos taken during the January trip.  The congratulations for a job well done have been numerous.

We will soon post here the video of the play.

A great big thank you to the marvelous actors, musicians, and technicians who worked tirelessly for several weeks to create a wonderful show.  It has been a privilege to see you bring together A Tempest.

Thank you to the students and the members of the community who showed up in great numbers to support our efforts.  There were 307 persons in the audience.  This is very humbling.

Our third fundraiser of 2014 is a photo exhibit that will take place in the context of the 5th Biennial Modern Languages Conference, on the 3rd of May.  Mounted photos of Dr. Kim Garris will be offered for sale at the price of $20.00.  All proceeds will benefit the dispensary. 

Note that this event is restricted to the university community and to the participants in the conference.


A New Project: A Dispensary for Gros Mangles

A new project is in the works for the French program and that is to provide the village of Gros Mangles with a dispensary. At this point, villagers have to travel for two hours over very rocky roads to the nearest health facility. This is, of course, a problem with patients who need immediate care or cannot be easily transported.  With the help of a village committee, Drs. Mitaut and Ragone, as well as Mr. Jonas Celius, the preparations for this new endeavor, started in January 2014. The involvement and commitment of the community will be essential for the success of the project, and the village of Gros Mangles, that showed a great willingness to work in 2013 and 2014, has already manifested its enthusiasm for this new project.

Fall 2014:  Dr. Ragone throws a challenge on FB

On September 15, 2014, Dr. Ragone threw the following challenge on FB:

She asked all her friends to reach for their friends to request "likes" and $5.00 donations.

1.  If the Project Gros Mangles site gets 2500 likes by Thanksgiving, she will dye her hair green or purple (choice of the students of 103 and 211) for the week of finals;

2.  If each contacted friend gives $5.00 and the Project garners $5000.00 by Christmas, she will cut her hair (which she has not done in 30 years...) and give it to Locks of Love (for wigs for victims of cancer).

SHE HOPES ALL WILL RISE TO THE CHALLENGE!!!  Donations cannot be paid through PayPal as they would go on her income (the Project does not have a business ID number) and increase her taxes.  Crowdsourcing sites charge 8%...Instead, the money should be sent in cash or with a check (to Shippensburg University) to

Dr. Ragone
Department of Modern Languages
1871 Old Main
Shippensburg University
Shippensburg PA 17257


FALL 2014: 2nd fundraiser

Photos Haiti

Camera, Action, Haiti!!

Monday, November 3, 2014; 6:15-7:45
ROWLAND Hall Room 200

Come sample delicious Haitian food and watch the inspiring documentary our Shippensburg crew shot in Haiti last January.

hatian food

$5.00 for students
$10.00 for the public

If you are interested in participating or contributing in any way to the construction of the dispensary, please contact Dr. Mitaut at, Dr. Ragone at, and/or Mr. Jonas Celius at 

WINTER BREAK 2014-2015

Haiti-2015(01) Haiti-2015(2)

Haiti-2015(3) Haiti-2015(4)

DSCN4067 (2) DSCN4066 (2)R

On January 6, 2015, the Haiti Team went back to La Gonâve, led by Mr. Jonas Celius and Dr. Ragone.  The members of the team were: Dr. Jennifer Pomeroy, Andrew Hutchinson, Fallon Finnegan, Cody Connelly, Jessica Strickland and Maura Delio.

A meeting with the Gros Mangle Committee was convened upon arrival, on the 7th of January and work started the next day, with supervision of three Committee members, Mr. François, Mr. Saintvil and Mr. Nazaire.

The site had been prepared before the team arrival under the supervision of Mr. Laudy.  The team proceeded to help with the leveling of the terrain, the building of the foundation and the installation of the pillars for the walls.

A lot was accomplished and the team had the pleasure to work side to side with the many Haitian volunteers who gave of their time to see the project succeed.  As usual, the kindness, dedication and hard work of all was greatly appreciated.  All goals were met by the time we left the village on January 14.



WINTER BREAK 2015-2016

GREAT TEAM!!!  On the American side: Laura Hilliard, Ali Mowers, Fallon Finnegan, Angela Davis Nana Sime, with Mr. Jonas Celius and Dr. Ragone.  On the Haitian side: Mrs. Anevil, Fednord, Saintvil, Laudy, Ti Ga, Josselyn, Nelson, Loudnet, all the ti moun who wanted to help the grown-ups

A great big thank you to all the ladies who made sure we were comfortable and well-fed: Mme Yvone, Mme Laudy, Mme Vedgie, their daughters and their friends, who got up before sunrise to cook on charcoal so we would have coffee and delicious Haitian food.


THANK YOU, MESI ANPIL TO ALL: l'union fait la force!!!!!


Moving blocks1 Moving blocks2

Child carrying block Building progress

Block wall Stone building progress

Building progress2 Building progress3




1.  First Fundraiser

The first fund raiser will take place on Tuesday February 17, 2015, Fat Tuesday.  It is the 4th Annual Mardi Gras Ball, sponsored this year by the French Club and the newly created Klub Kreole.  It is held from 6:30  to 8 p.m. in the Spiritual Center.  Cost is $5.00 and the entirety of the proceeds go to the project.


2.  Second Fundraiser

The second fundraiser will be a silent auction taking place during a performance sponsored by the Shippensburg University Department of Theater and Arts.  Several pieces of art will be offered during this auction.  The event is taking place Saturday March 28, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.  There is no charge and all the proceeds of the silent auction go to the project.




Our first fundraiser will be at the homecoming game on October 17.  We will have tables at the entrances to the football field stating at 11:30 and we will be there to accept donations.  Be generous!!


Our second fundraiser will be the selling of cards with photos from Haiti by award-winning photographer Dr. Kim Garris.  The packs of 10 cards with envelopes will sell for $15.00.  They are ideal for stocking stuffers or small holiday gifts.  Please remember us on your shopping list!



You are invited to the 6th annual Mardi Gras celebration

The celebration is hosted by the French Club and the Klub Kreyol.  There will be a dance contest, led by Dr. Ricardo, prizes for best mask and costume (judged by Drs. Mitaut and Ragone), and the King and Queen of Mardi Gras will be chosen by the three faculty sponsors.  All participants will have beads and doubloons, and will sample typical food.  ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE DISPENSARY!! Come have fun and benefit the Haitian community at the same time!!!

Where:     Spiritual Center

When:      03/01/16

Time:        6:30-8:30 p.m.

Cost:         $5.00


The members of the Klub Kreyòl and the French Club organized a ping-pong tournament and a car wash.  They also participated in a Dance-a-thon.  To close the semester, a Haitian Holiday Bazaar is to be held on December 2nd, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Cora I Grove Spiritual Center.

WINTER BREAK 2016-2017

WE DID IT!!!!!  The goal for this year was to raise the roof.  ACCOMPLISHED!!!  We also leveled the terrain around the building.  Thankyou to the four students who carried rock under the relentless sun (Paige Arensmeyer, Andrew Hutchinson, Stephanie Smith, Angelina Stewart).  Thank you Mr. Celius for making sure that all the needs of the construction and our personal needs were met.  Thank you to the people of Gros Mangle for welcoming us with your friendly smiles.




L'union fait la force

Name Donation Amount Details
Mr. and Mrs. Jonas CELIUS $100.00  
Mr. and Mrs. MOORE $100.00  
Dr. Agnes RAGONE $100.00  
Mr. and Mrs. JOWETT $100.00 In honor of the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Orcutt
Dr. John McCARTHY $500.00  
The Modern Languages Department STUDENTS $565.00  
Dr. Blandine MITAUT $100.00  
Mrs. Kim SCHABEL $250.00  
Mardi Gras FUNDRAISER $170.00  
Dr. Sarah STOKELY $200.00  
A Tempest $1535.00  
Raffling of painting by Mr. MARTIN $292.50  
Photos by Dr. GARRIS $120.00  
Mr. and Mrs. THOMAS $25.00  
Mrs. Halima GBAGUIDI $20.00  
Mr. and Mrs. ALLEMAN $20.00  
Dr. John McCARTHY $200.00  In honor of Agnes Belval's birthday
Ms. Linda G. GUERINGER $50.00  
Mr. and Mrs. CELIUS $20.00 For their daughter Yvette
Ms. Peggy DUFOUR  $200.00 In recognition of Mr. David Williams
Mr. and Mrs. HUTCHINSON $2000.00  
Ms. Agnes BELVAL $1000.00 In honor of Mr. Jacques E. Belval
Ms. Sarah RAUDABAUGH and friend $60.00  
Anonymous donor $5608.00  
Mrs. Annabelle BUEHRLE and her students $253.00  
Dinner and a Movie fundraiser $445.00  
Dr. John McCARTHY $500.00  
Dr. Agnes RAGONE $350.00  
Student donations $1300.00  
Anonymous $122.00  
Fundraiser (Ms. Sarah RAUDABAUGH) $529.00  
Ms. Fallon FINNEGAN and Mrs. Miriam CELIUS    
Fundraiser (Drs. McCARTHY and BELVAL) $331.00  
GoFundMe fundraiser $620.00  
Homecoming fundraiser $117.00  
Cards fundraiser $345.00  
ROTZ family donation $350.00  
Dr. John McCARTHY $500.00  
Anonymous $1000.00  
Applebee's fundraiser $560.00  
Ms. Ali MOWERS $12.00  
Dr. Kim GARRIS $60.00 To celebrate her birthday  
Mrs. WILDERMUTH $10.00  
Carlisle Church of Christ $2000.00  
Ms. C. ORCUTT $100.00  
Ms. Agnes BELVAL $150.00  
GoFundMe $713.89  Special thanks from around the world!
Student Fundraisers $364.00  
Mr. John J. McCARTHY $500.00  
Dr. Sarah McDOWELL $1000.0  
 Mr. Mark Arensmeyer  $100.00  
 Applebee's Fundraiser



             Mr. Reginald Hefner                                                           $1000.00

             Garage Sale Fundraiser                                                     $ 234.00 

            Mr. Cody Connelly                                                                  $ 250.00

Car wash fundraiser                                                                           $ 250.00

Mr. James Barcisz                                                                               $ 100.00