May 18th is National Flag Day in Haiti. It is also a national holiday and we have no school, so we are all in red and blue today! This is a celebration of the adoption of the first purely Haitian flag on May 18, 1803 and every year it is celebrated with patriotic songs, parades and dance. Of course, we celebrate it too!
My name is Ryme. It’s almost two years since I came to Kay Christine. Back then I could not even take weight on my feet and I hated to do physical therapy. I was a bit nervous of my new surroundings – I had spent the previous four months in the hospital after my mom never came back for me. Now I am doing very well. I am very sociable, and I love to play with the other children in Kay Christine. It’s nice being able to walk – I am still a bit wobbly but each day I get stronger. In school I have lots of friends and the teachers love me to bits – probably because I am so cute and affectionate. Big people like to be cuddled and they love when I smile at them and I sure do that a lot! And I have a great sense of humour! I really feel loved in my new home and because of this it’s really easy for me to give love to everyone there. In the mornings I make sure to give all the staff a kiss when they come in to get us up from bed. I call out to them one by one and they always smile and laugh when I kiss them. I am not really great at kissing – I haven’t quite figured out how to do it, but I’m getting there. I say hello to all the other kids too, going from bed to bed. I love doing this at night time. In the beginning, Gena used to carry me from bed to bed but now I can actually do it by myself. I hold onto the beds and I walk from one bed to another. It’s so nice and what’s even better is that the other kids are so happy to see me do this. Cleevens always says, “bravo Ryme”. He is a real older brother to me. It doesn’t matter that he is in a wheelchair – he is really cool and he loves to come right up to me and put his head next to me. He really loves me – they all do!
I like to help the ladies when they are folding the clothes. Of course I am too small to fold them, but I do try. What I can do is hand the clothes to them and this is a help. Well I suppose I should let you go now. Keep me in your prayers and pray for all my family here in Kay Christine. Pray for my Mom and Dad too – for sure they left me in the hospital because they could not take care of me. Haiti is not easy for moms with kids like me. Bye.
P.S. When I have learned to blow kisses next time I will show you!
Today we were very happy to welcome two Papal Nuncios to St. Helene! Archbishop Eugene Nugent is originally from Ireland and in January he was appointed as the Papal Nuncio to Haiti. Archbishop Pierre Nguyen Van Tot is from Vietnam but is the Papal Nuncio to Sri Lanka and he was in Haiti on a visit to attend an ordination.
Both Nuncio’s were very impressed by all that they saw in St. Helene and they were warmly greeted by the children and staff. Archbishop Nugent said he was very happy to be able to take this time to get an understanding of the realities in Haiti. As we face many difficulties he advised us to always seek the help of God because there are problems everywhere and with the help of God we can do many things. Good advice indeed.
What is a A Papal Nuncio?
A Papal Nuncio is a papal ambassador, i.e. a permanent diplomatic representative of the Holy See to a state or an international organization. According to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a Papal Nuncio is an ambassador equal to an ambassador from any other country. However in Catholic countries the papal nuncio may rank above other ambassadors in diplomatic protocol.
The Papal Nuncio serves as the liaison between the Holy See and the Roman Catholic diocesan episcopate in the nation, region or organization in which he is placed. The region or nation is normally supervised by a regional conference of bishops, whose presiding officer is often the highest ranking bishop of that nation. Alternately the presiding officer is elected from the diocesan ordinaries of the nation or region.
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 48
What a beautiful psalm! How reassuring! Tonight after our night time prayer I took a few pictures of the kids before they went to sleep. You can see the smiling faces and you can see that for them, it is clear, they will lie down in peace and sleep in safety. How truly wonderful! I never cease to thank God for all that we are able to give these kids and for all that they give us in return.
But you know, in order for this psalm to be true, we need people. Kind loving people that will look after the kids during the night time. Kind, loving people that will be God’s physical angels during the night. Meet Jeanne and Andremise. For 20 years they have been looking after our kids during the night. For 20 years they have been the ones to ensure that the kids sleep in safety. With their loving arms they have comforted when comfort was needed. They have held sick children in their arms most of the night when this was needed. They have rushed upstairs to me for help when someone was critically sick and in need of extra attention. They have worried and stressed time and time again when we fought with illnesses that were determined to take our kids from us. They have wept and cried and grieved when we had to let go. Then with loving hearts they opened arms to each new addition to the family. With motherly love they have ensured that each new child felt at home from the first night she/he arrived.
All these years they have been family to us here in Kay Christine. Many times hurricanes prevented them from going home after the night shift, so they rolled up their sleeves and helped us get through the day as the day shift people could not come. The earthquake shook them as much as any of us and yet they stayed firm, putting the kids first. They have put up with me and my good sides and my bad sides – always patiently trying to understand what needs to be done. The administration records will tell you that they are staff. We know they are family. We know that without them, this psalm would have no meaning. I know that without them I would have no peace. God is good – don’t ever doubt it. Religions may disappoint us but always remember God is more than any one religion. And what is religion anyway but the attempt of humans to try and understand God. Let’s face it – God will never fit into our human limitations of what God is or is not. But I say it again, God is good and good comes from God. Jeanne and Andremise are two mighty women and they have their trust in God. Don’t be afraid to do the same.
My prayer tonight is one of thanksgiving for Jeanne and Andremise. I also pray that each of you reading this will be instruments of making Psalm 48 a reality for many, many people. For sure you are already to your children and loved ones. Maybe you can find ways to be an instrument for others.
Special Needs Director, NPH Haiti
“And is time not even as love is, undivided and paceless? But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each circle encircle all the other circles, and let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.”
Early this morning I was writing a letter to a woman who will sponsor one of of children, Indira. I decided to send her a photo of the first day we accepted Indira into our home back in 1999. Then I went downstairs and took a picture with Indira.
As I looked at the two pictures I found myself thinking of all that has happened in our lives since the day I brought Indira to our home. I was reflecting on how the years have treated us. At the time I picked Indira up, she had been abandoned in our St. Damien Hospital and she was such a cute little girl. She was very responsive and always quick with a giggle and a smile.
Over the years Indira has held onto her beautiful smile and she has continues to enrich all our lives. Physically she has many limitations but her mind is sharp as can be and she has such a wonderful sense of humor. A few weeks ago I was in a meeting that dragged on way past lunch time. So when I came in , I went straight to the cooker and started preparing something to eat. One of the ladies came in and asked me how I was and I said I was great but I was starving with hunger! No sooner had I said this than I heard great laughter coming from across the room. I looked over and there was Indira laughing her head off at me and at the idea that I was so hungry! I did not even know she was keeping an eye on me! When I asked her what was so funny she laughed even more!! And so it is with Indira, always a reason to laugh and smile. It’s amazing really because for sure she would have lots of reasons to complain especially when you consider she is totally dependent on us. In the pictures below she is with her godfather Jourdain.
As you look at Indira, I hope you will see the fruits of our work all these years. The years bring challenges as happens everywhere, but my goodness how blessed we have been! I remember years ago Indira having seizures that lasted hours. That was so, so scary! Now she never has seizures! I never find the words to describe just how much Indira and the others in our home, bring to our lives. I always struggle to make people see that our relationship is not one sided. It’s not about us taking care of Indira. It’s now about us doing things for her. Rather it is a sharing of life together. It’s a sharing of our abilities and disabilities together – it may be easy to see Indira’s disabilities, but rest assured we all have many disabilities and lucky for me Indira is very patient with me and my disabilities!
Time seems to go so fast- I guess for those in hospital, prison and captivity, it is a different story. In the next few weeks I hope to write about our children and show you the progress we have enjoyed. I hope to give you more insight into our lives here. In the meanwhile here is a smile from Indira to brighten up your day.
Special Needs Director, NPH Haiti
On March 26th, the children at Ste. Germaine celebrated their Easter Holidays. Teachers, mothers and the children had a very nice “procession” to remember the suffering of Jesus on the way to Calvary. Following the procession, they watched a movie on the Passion of Jesus. While I was watching the procession and looking at the mothers and children, I was thinking (once again!!), that for so many of these mothers, they live their own Passion every day here in Haiti. No their kids are not crucified, but they are denied of so many basic rights and this denial often does indeed lead to their deaths. Poverty kills. Poverty crucifies–bodies and spirits. How must they feel, these mothers and fathers, when they cannot feed their kids, when they watch the little bodies rack with seizures, and they know that with medicine there would be no seizures? As Mary had to suffer while she watched them beat and crucify her innocent son, so too do these parents suffer as they watch poverty beat, humiliate and often, kill their children. The Easter story is not to be considered as an old story from years ago. Every day innocent people live out their own crucifixions. God raised Jesus from the dead. We try very hard to rise beyond the limits facing us and to bring life and education to those we serve. While we struggle with all we cannot do, we rejoice in all that we have been able to achieve thanks to the help of so many people. Our smiling children show us we are on the right path doing the right thing. Our smiling children give us a glimpse of the hope of the Easter Sunday Resurrection.
Contributed by Gena Heraty
Special Needs Director
With great sadness we learned today that beautiful Ednude Virgile died yesterday after nine days in hospital. On March 14th she started having very bad seizures (sadly the mother had ran out of medicine and not had a chance to buy them). As it was night time, she could not go to the hospital with Ednude and so she continued to have bad seizures throughout the night. The next morning her mother took her to the hospital where she stayed until she died yesterday afternoon.
Ednude was born on April 20, 2006. She was the only child of her loving mother and we first met them in February of 2009. Ednude”s mom adored her and took such good care of her. Ednude was her pride and joy and she rarely missed a day in school. Due to her severe condition, it as very difficult for her other to carry her and to bring her to our centre/school, but she made the supreme effort and Ednude loved school. She was very intelligent and loved to learn. Her beautiful smile and bright eyes communicated very clearly how she felt and she was always quick to respond.
Her mother is devastated–the father was no longer with them.You know death is very much a part of our lives here BUT so many times we feel so so frustrated because so many of these children in our program do not receive medicine as they should. Not because the parents don’t know how, but because they can’t afford them. It costs about 14 Euro for 30 tablets of Rivotril and about 22 Euro for a bottle of Depakene. If you are lucky enough to be working in Haiti, you will be lucky to be earning 5 Euros a day. Ednude’s mom is not one of the lucky ones! Can you see why buying medicines is so difficult?
So time and time again we say goodbye to beautiful children and time and time again we struggle to accept this reality.
We take comfort from the fact that in her short life Ednude was surrounded by people that loved her. She had a chance to come to school and share her beautiful personality with so many. We take comfort from the fact that (unlike so many others), she knew she was important to so many. She knew her Mom adored her. She knew we all loved her. It’s not enough is it? But it’s all we have. Please pray for her Mom. She was and is, a true witness of what it means to love because we know all too well just how hard it was for her. She never got discouraged. She put her daughter first and she did all she could.
A few lines from Gibran are apt now…“your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. And though they are with you, they do not belong to you. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow…”
Contributed by Gena Heraty
Special Needs Director