Spy Wednesday

 

judaskiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A traitors game
No apparent shame
Unwanted Fame
A kiss of betrayal
A soul hauntingly frail
No ordinary tale
For love condemned
From above it stemmed
So much to transcend.

Spy Wednesday
A time gone by?
Today who will die
With an innocent cry?
Who will betray
By words that they say
And go on their way
Another ordinary day?
Who will give a kiss
As if nothing’s amiss
Fall into the abyss
Afraid to witness?

Spy Wednesday
Yesterday today and tomorrow
We still have to learn.
Spy Wednesday every day.
Everyone a Judas.
Poor Judas.

Gena Heraty
Special Needs Director

Our Special Olympians 2014

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After much training and preparation our five representatives for the Palm Beach Special Olympics were on the plane for the flight to Fort Lauderdale. The smiles were big with pride as they took their seats, they could not wait for the take off. We were very lucky to be accompanied by their coach Guerdes, Rony his assistant and an ex-pequeños of Kay St. Hélène, and Carmelle, Gena’s amazing assistant at Kay Christine, our special needs home.

Mme Romy Tschudi, who chose the team and on whose horses the children train every Wednesday at Chateau Blond welcomed the children and staff with open arms once we landed. Kristy Fuego from our NPH USA Miami office awaited us with hugs too. The children were chosen from 50 special needs riders from Kay St. Hélène and from 30 riders at the Kay St. Germaine Special Needs school in Tabarre.

Darlene Milord from Kay Christine was chosen as the Ambassador of the trip. This trip was Darlene’s 9th time to represent her country and children and adults with special needs. Throughout the trip she was amazing, with her smiles, politeness and the way in which she embraced Daisy* from Kay St. Germaine as her little sister. She was always by her side, guiding and caring.

Everywhere Renald* went during the trip, his big smile melted the hearts of the staff, participants and the volunteers from Romy’s barn and from Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Centre. Winning 2nd prize in both his competitions with ‘Papa Rony’ being an amazing support to him.

Steevenson* and Philipson* from Kay St. Hélène Orphanage rode extremely well in their competitions. In dressage, Steevenson won 1st prize and Philipson came 2nd. In the trail riding competition Philipson rode home in 1st place and Steevenson in 2nd. What an achievement for two boys who are only in their second year of riding.

Darlene won 1st prize in dressage and 4th in trail riding. All of the volunteers and riders remember Darlene fondly from previous visits, especially Gracie who trained with our children on the first day of the trip and on previous trips.

Daisy with her big smiles and hugs won 1st prizes in both her competitions.

One of the highlights of the trip was feeding the giraffes at Lion Country Park, organized by Kristy. A big thank you to the staff of the park and to Kristy! Of course, big thank you to Vinceremos, IEC Wellington, Royal Inn and Romy and her team!

*Names changed to protect privacy.

Contributed by Jacinta McGuane, NPH Haiti Volunteer

Finesse Fonfilus–A dedicated member of the NPH family who believes that there is hope and a chance for everyone!

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Finesse loves working with kids and especially has a passion for working with the handicapped. Since when she was just nineteen-years-old, she has been working with children who had disabilities, starting in her neighborhood. When she got a little older she found L’ARCHE, an organization dedicated to serving the disabled in the south side of Haiti. She spent four years with them, working with members of L’ARCHE with a variety of disabilities. Her main responsibility was to teach them to care for them selves by teaching them basic cleaning skills, self-care, shopping and basic trades/skills to look for a job. However, as the organization was far from her family and friends, she decided to leave the position after her four years of service. She feels very lucky though because during her time at L’ARCHE, she met a volunteer from Ireland who referred her to NPFS and the rest is history.

In 1993, she started working at Kay St. Helene in Kenscoff with Gena, the Director of the Special Needs Programs for NPH-Haiti, and Noelle, a fellow international volunteer. Finesse spent twelve years working in the special needs house, Kay Christine, first as one of the caregivers but after two years she was promoted to the Head Coordinator of the house.

In 2005, Fr. Rick Frechette saw a desperate need for a clinic in Wharf Jeremie. After the medical clinic was established by Fr. Rick and his team, he called Gena one day for a consult on a child with special needs. From there, Gena and her team decided to go weekly to treat kids with disabilities. They soon outgrew the space available and thus Fr. Rick offered for them to go to what is now Kay Au Bois in Tabbare. Then in 2008 the construction of Kay Germaine was completed and they have been there ever since.

During the development of these programs Finnesse remained to be a prevalent part of all administration teams. She would spend 12 days in Kay Christine and every two weeks go down the mountain to help with Kay Germaine and also spend time with her family. During this transition time, Gena promoted her once more to be the Director of Kay Germaine.

What Finnesse loves most about her job is the fact that she gets to work with children with disabilities and help their parents take proper care of them. She has huge dreams for the continuous development of the program but most importantly she wants to continue working with the love and gratitude she has witnessed since day one. She particularly loves seeing everyone working together as a family and she prays that this dream lasts forever.

Finesse says, “The work that is doing in Haiti, we did not have it anywhere else in the country! This organization is helping a lot of people I hope it continues to do so forever. I am just overjoyed that I can be a part of it all.”

Denso Gay and Avriel Burlot
Communication Officer and Communication Specialist

Meet Eva*

Eva

Eva shelling peanuts at Kay Christine

Close your eyes for a second and put yourself in Kenscoff at Kay St. Helene.  For many of you, you’ve never been before but imagine you are driving into the NPH property, tons of trees surrounding you, you pass the school, you see children every where and the car parks at Kay Christine, the special needs house.  The air is crisp, you’re relaxed and very happy to be there and then, before your feet even hit the pavement, you are bear hugged by Eva!…and it is the most genuine, caring and lovable hug you’ve ever received.

Another day I will continue to explain the amazingness that is Kay Christine, because it is actually one of the most wonderful places I’ve ever been, if you couldn’t already see that from past posts.  It starts with Eva’s hugs and then the love continues from there.  It is a family, the best kind of families and Gena should be so proud for everything she has accomplished and how she has raised her family with pure unconditional love and for them to be the best people they can be!

But, today is about Eva. And Eva is fabulous.

Eva has been with NPH since before I was born.  I’m not kidding.  This woman had a rough upbringing, we assume, but really we don’t know much about her before NPH.  Long story short, a woman found her wandering in the city and knew about NPH and brought to us and the rest is history.  Eva is about 35 years old and she only becomes more incredible with age.  She lives in Kay Christine and has for the majority of her life.  She is the queen of the house.

Other than her hugs, which, I must warn you, can take the breath right out of you if she squeezes with all her strength, Eva is truly a caring person and loves to love.  When I met Eva on my first trip to Haiti I was taken back by one of her famous hugs but from that moment on, I knew I had just met someone extremely special in my life.  She makes you feel like the most important person in the world! How many people can do that?  Honestly.

Over the years Eva has become very delicate about her appearance, especially her clothes and accessories and she is always dresses to impress.  However, sometimes, on the rare occasion, she wants to put her nightdress on at noon.  Nothing wrong with that.

Eva also goes nowhere without her handbag.  Whether she is working on making peanut butter, watching a movie, getting her hair done, eating lunch, you name is, chances are the handbag is being held tightly.  I’m sure you’re wondering, what does Eva keep in her handbag?  Better question: what DOESN’T Eva keep in her handbag?  I’ve ventured this before and the times Eva has allowed me to look inside you’ll find hair accessories, sweets, gloves, a hat, and sometimes on the rare occasion you’ll find her nightdress in there too!  Always a surprise and always a joy.

Yesterday I had the absolute honor to sit and work with Eva for a little.  We were cracking peanuts for peanut butter and every few minutes she would turn to me, say “madam”, pat my leg and just see if I was okay.  She would then continue with her work until the next check in.  Later on in the afternoon she fell asleep on my shoulder while I was waiting for someone.  Hard days work and she deserved a little nap for sure.

I really could go on and on about Miss Eva and let’s be real, I could write on and on about all of the Kay Christine family!  I hope you get the chance to meet Eva one day, experience her hugs and her loving demeanor.  Watch out though, it could change your life or just take the wind out of you.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Contributed by Avriel Burlot
Communication Specialist, NPH Haiti

Special Needs Program 2013 Annual Report

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Dear friends and family,

Albert Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”. As I try to sum up 2013 I think it’s fair to say that there were times when my balance, when our balance, was fairly wobbled! It was a year of much sadness—two former youths that we knew and loved passed away, as did two kids from Kay Christine. Also Major Cesar, the night watchman, was brutally taken from us. When you write it down it seems so incredible that all this happened this year. Our kids and young adults in Kay Christine have seen and felt so much pain and sadness this year. All of us have been battered. It has been a tough year, no doubt about it, and I remember so clearly the weeks after Olivier died, our home was like an injured bird, frail and fragile and one wondered when we would sing and fly again.

Time passed and we welcomed two new children into our home at Kay Christine and our hearts. They came with their own fragile stories but one thing was obvious very fast – they were determined to bring smiles to our faces and they were determined to get us through our grief. They came like angels to the rescue and they wrapped up in their love. “I will turn their mourning into joy and comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:13

2013 also had many other great moments and for sure the opening of Kay Gabriel was full of those moments. It was a day when we celebrated the fruits of the seeds sown after the earthquake. Kay Gabriel is a testament of how we do things, how we turn tragedy into something beautiful and life giving. All of you reading this are a part of the beauty, because together we make miracles.

On a personal level, I feel I have lived a lot this year! My bicycle has wobbled and wobbled through dark days but lucky for me my bicycle’s light is powered by each movement I make. So as I wobble forward and I can always see the way! All along the way people join with me to light up the path I am traveling on. I am never alone and I am always surrounded by love and light. This makes life so much nicer. All of us in Kay Christine, Kay Eliane and Kay Germaine thank you for all your support during this last year. We rely on this same support for the coming year. We thank God for all the blessings of 2013 and we look forward to many more miracles in 2014.

Gena Heraty
Director of Special Needs Programs

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Program Accomplishments

Kay Germaine and all of our special needs programs flourished this year in many ways. The school program at Kay Germaine received a grant that allowed six teachers to travel to the U.S., to Watson Institute, for training in special education to improve their skills in teaching our students with mental and physical disabilities. Additionally, the team is working on the development of including life skills into the curriculum. For instance, the students have been working on simple time concepts, money concepts, hygiene, as well as some household chores. We accepted 23 new students into the Kay Germaine program from a long waiting list of potential students who had been attending the program for physical therapy only. These children started the new school year 2013-2014 with us as fully enrolled students.

We celebrated the inauguration of Kay Gabriel in October. The building is an extension of the Kay Germaine School and serves the young adults who graduate from the Kay Germaine program and also provides therapy for adults with disabilities.

In our therapy programs, we hope to continue training our physical, occupational and speech therapists in current methodologies to better serve all of our adult and pediatric patients. We also want to continue with our parent/caregivers education program so parents feel more comfortable and educated in their children’s therapies. We plan on continuing to develop advocacy initiatives for individuals with disabilities in partnership with UNICEF, Handicapped International and Healing Hands for Haiti.

After stroke, doctor becomes patient in Haiti

Pictured, from left, are Kristine Cronin, a speech pathologist from Willimantic, physical therapist Norma Lopez and Dr. Marghuerite Blaise.

Pictured, from left, are Kristine Cronin, a speech pathologist from Willimantic, physical therapist Norma Lopez and Dr. Marghuerite Blaise.

Dr. Marghuerite Blaise was a respected physician and medical director of the St. Luke Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. On Oct. 12, 2012, she suffered a stroke and was faced with the difficult transition of switching roles from physician to patient.

Blaise had been in excellent health. She was of normal weight, with no hypertension, diabetes or irregular heart rhythms. She didn’t smoke. She had no particular risk factors for stroke, with the exception of a slightly elevated cholesterol level.

The stroke occurred when a major artery bringing blood and oxygen to the left half of her brain became blocked. Unfortunately, the left half of her brain was the “dominant hemisphere.” In addition to paralysis of the right side of her body, she could not comprehend or produce speech.

While recovering one month later, she suffered a second stroke in the same area of the brain, leading to more damage.

On my most recent trip to Haiti, in December 2013, I met up with Blaise, my colleague, while she was participating in a speech therapy session at the NPH Kay St. Gabriel Stroke Rehabilitation Center. I had not seen her since the stroke more than a year prior.

She was her typical cheerful self. Although she remains weak on her right side, she is able to walk unassisted and understands speech. She can generate words slowly, but her vocabulary is limited.

“Communication is essential to all human connections. Without that, we are alone. Early rehabilitation is essential,” said Kristine Cronin, a speech-language pathologist from Willimantic who is volunteering at the St. Gabriel facility. Cronin has been working with Blaise three days per week for the past year.

Regular sessions of speech, physical and occupational therapy are crucial to stroke recovery. Through continuous use, the brain begins to adapt and utilize new pathways to regain function. Unfortunately, therapy can often be a daunting and frustrating task, especially for someone accustomed to working in a highly responsible role. Many patients quit.

Rehabilitative services such as those provided by Kay St. Gabriel for Haiti are a rarity in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Patients like Blaise must awaken early and endure lengthy commutes. Family members are needed for transportation to therapy.

Each time I travel to Haiti, I learn more about the Haitian people. One characteristic remains constant in the face of the devastating earthquake in 2010 that was followed by a cholera outbreak and multiple hurricanes and tropical storms. It is their resistance to becoming disheartened that most impresses me.

“Do not become discouraged. Always put in a huge effort, even when it is difficult. It is so important that anyone who has suffered a stroke attends therapy consistently,” Blaise said.

Although Blaise cannot practice medicine at this time, she plans on starting a language and exercise support group to encourage other stroke patients.

Dr. Blaise’s determination serves as a beacon of hope for everyone in times of adversity.

Contributed by Dr. Anthony Alessi, volunteer

Christmas Highlights

Gena and kids.

Gena and kids.

Christmas is always a magical time of the year and this year in Haiti, all of our programs celebrated in their own special way.

St. Helene: Up in the mountains of Kenscoff, where Christmas time is quite cold, our children at St. Helene celebrated with music, dancing and food. The week before Christmas the festivities started with nightly prayer and reflection but also the first round of the talent show with the semi-finals on the 23rd of December. To participate, each house had to write and produce a song that summed up what Christmas meant to them. Many harmonized about the struggles of the country, but also on the importance of family during Christmas. The houses prepared for several weeks leading to the beginning of the competition.

On Christmas Eve, Father Rick Frechette came to St. Helene to celebrate Mass with the children. The children also enjoyed a special meal on this night for the holidays with chicken, salad and a very delicious rice and bean mix. On Christmas Day, Kay Christine, the special needs house, hosted their annual Christmas party where everyone had a great time! Then in the afternoon everyone in the home got together for the finals of the talent show and other musical performances. Everyone was bundled up and enjoyed the night very much. This year the oldest girls’ house, Kay Joanne, and a younger boys house, Kay Pauline, were announced the champions of the talent show! The holiday fun will continue for the next few weeks while the children are on vacation from school.

At Kay Germaine the Christmas celebrations were held prior to Christmas Day because school has three weeks of Christmas vacation surrounding the holidays.  However, before vacation began we had several holiday parties to get everyone into the Christmas spirit!  Before school was out we had a Christmas party for our students and therapy patients.  There was tons of music, food and merriment to go around and the children had a great time!  Then a few days later we had the staff Christmas party with a secret Santa gift exchange, nice meal and the company of great friends!

Contributed by Denso Gay and Avriel Burlot
Communication Officer and Communication Specialist