Our Special Olympics Athletes

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I was very privileged to accompany our Special Olympics athletes on their trip to Wellington and West Palm Beach. It was amazing to see how quickly they adapted to American customs which are often very different to the customs in Haiti.

Darline, the group’s Ambassador, was a true leader in every sense of the word. When the others were nervous before flying, she had them smiling and was telling them about all of the amazing things they would see and the yummy new food they would taste.

Verlanta sang and smiled throughout the trip. At every opportunity she danced! Max’s* big smile broke hearts and he prayed that we would have a safe trip during every trip we made.

Philemon* was like a true big brother to Max, helping him along, carrying his backpack and giving him little hints.

 Ketia was truly amazed by everything and everyone. She loved meeting and chatting to all the Haitians we met on the trip. She wanted to learn everything about their lives in the U.S.

We are very fortunate to be able to train and ride the horses from Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Centre each year. The Haitian trainers who came along also get the benefit of receiving specialized training from the team in Vinceremos and we then see their skills improve on return.

Our athletes proudly represented Haiti, all coming home with ribbons and setting inspirational goals for all of our younger riders at Kay St. Helene and Kay St. Germaine Special Needs Programs. A great big debt of gratitude is owed to the entire team at Kay Christine and Kay St. Germaine for all of the training and preparation which goes into every trip. While a big thank you should also go to the trainers and carers who accompanied the athletes on the trip, without whom it would not have been possible.

Contributed by Jacinta McGuane

These trips are an extension of the rehabilitation program which sees an average of 30 children from Kay Germaine and they receive equine therapy every week. The program also caters for 25-30 children from St. Helene Orphanage in Kenscoff. Over the period of a year, this results in a total of 122 students receiving some form of equine therapy at Chateu-Blond stables in Tabarre, Haiti.

Equine therapy improves balance and assists in the strengthening of the child’s core, the improvement of motor skills and increased respiratory control. For those who have more severe conditions and are confined to a wheelchair, touching and being near horses can have positive effects. With these children, studies have shown that equine therapy improves sensory integration and the understanding of visual cues.

*Alias names used to protect privacy of minors.

International Day for People with Disabilities

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Thursday, December 3rd was a great day to be in Kay Ste. Germaine as we celebrated International Day for People with Disabilities. In Kay Christine at our home in Kenscoff, the children were up way before day break as we got them ready for their annual trip down to Kay Ste. Germaine, located in Tabarre. Such excitement in the house! By 6.30 am we were all on our way – quite the convoy, two big buses, one small bus and one small lorry (bringing the wheelchairs)!

Mass was at 9 am and we had a huge crowd – kids from our special needs school, kids from our therapy program, kids from Kay Christine, kids from Ste. Helene, adults from our stroke program, parents, friends – we were full!

After Mass the children and adults entertained us and showed us just how much they can do. Everyone was delighted to perform and what a joy it was to be a part of it all!

The day was a great success and living proof of all that we can do when we work together and put our trust in God. Have a look at some of the photos.

Gena Heraty
Special Needs Director

Advent Thoughts


chapel_genaBodies in coffins all wrapped up in white
lips sealed up forever, arms strapped real tight.
The floor of the chapel is now their new bed,
they are silently sleeping the sleep of the dead.
Father talks about Advent and all that it means,
my mind is distracted, by the loss of dreams.
For each tiny body there is a mother in pain,
for each adult corpse there is a struggle in vain.
I try to imagine how each one did die,
it’s not so hard really- I know the reasons why.
I think of the dreams that come with each life,
now painfully butchered by Poverty’s Knife.
Poverty and Death – a coalition to fear,
they rule with dominion – no escape from them here.
The young and the old – all fall when they strike

on the floor of our chapel -strangers become alike.

And what of this Advent and the special infant child?
Do we dare believe this story, do we dare become beguiled?
Do we dare to imagine, a life filled with love?
a time with no bodies on the floor, a world filled with peace from above?
Do we dare to imagine a world without war and tears?
where we care for each other, where love conquers fears?
And wasn’t the infant Jesus himself born into strife?
didn’t he come to be among us to show another way of life.
Wasn’t his message very simple and very very clear,

We have to love one another – everyone from far and near.

Now back to these numerous bodies, lying on the floor
how can we accept this reality? Surely we must do more?
Surely there must be a way, to find more people that care
find more people to help us, somehow, somewhere.
I hear the Advent message – let the peace begin in me
I cling to this dream of peace – for a future I might not live to see.
For life without hope is pointless, on the darkness we must shine a light
we must trust in the God of Goodness, the God of day and night
we must believe we can make a difference, our light can lighten the load
we must realise we are all one family, all pilgrims on the road,
all brothers and sisters together, no matter our color or creed

we must fight the forces of evil that come disguised in greed.

Bodies in coffins all wrapped up in white
their days on this earth are ended, forever gone from our sight.
Loving arms that held them, will hold them now no more
Too many silent bodies lying daily on the floor.
Gena Heraty
Special Needs Director

Investment in Our Teachers

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At the beginning of each month the teachers have a one day formation with the aim to increase their skills and enhance the learning experience for the children in Kay Germaine and Larche (Kenscoff).

Presenting this month’s formation was Casandra (Language & Communication Technician) and Jacinta (Special Ed. Trainer) who focused their formations on enhancing communication techniques for our students who find it difficult to communicate, and first aid and general safety in the school.

Our Beloved Olsen


With a sad and heavy heart we watched our beloved Olsen Signifils leave us yesterday at St. Damien Hospital. We had been there for 2.5 weeks and despite the best efforts of everyone, we could not keep him with us this time. So many times in the past, Olsen had cheated death, but this time God called him home. His mission was complete.

Olsen was abandoned in 2001 at St. Damien as a baby and shortly afterwards we welcomed him to Kay Christine, our home at St. Helene. As a result of meningitis, he had developed severe brain damage and hydrocephalus. I will never forget seeing him for the first time in the hospital ward – a skinny, crying, blind child with a huge head!

From the first evening in Kay Christine, it was clear to me that this boy was going to thrive with us. During the night prayer I noticed how he was listening intently, especially during the singing. And thrive he did. In September 2001, we brought him to Amarillo, Texas, where he had a shunt put in and after that Olsen enjoyed several years of good health.

Olsen was a huge presence in Kay Christine. For the last 14 months he had been amazingly well. First thing in the morning we would wake up to the sound of Olsen singing and making his happy noises. Frequently he was the last to go to sleep and he was busy laughing and singing in his bed.

He loved to be kissed and he learned to give kisses to everyone. You just had to say, “Olsen give me a kiss,” and you got it. I would write forever about this beautiful young man that enriched our lives.

We all have a time to leave this life and yesterday was to be his time. He had a bad infection in his brain and there was nothing we could do this time. He bore his suffering very bravely and it was very hard to see him suffer. In the end, God sent his angels to bring him home.

We thank God for his life and for his presence in our family. When he was a baby the doctors thought he would not live long. When he became very ill a few years ago, the doctors said there was no hope for him.

In April we celebrated his 15th birthday. He was a child of God and we know that somehwhere in the next life he is singing “e i  e i o”. Every day here he used to sing Jwayez anivese  – Happy Birthday, so I can only imagine how happy he will be singing this in heaven to all the hosts of angels – many of them our own Kay Christine kids.

Please include the eternal rest of Olsen and our NPH Haiti family in your prayers.

Gena Heraty
Special Needs Director

Fighting for Life

Mothers – loving, tired, stressed, weary, worried, desperate.
The struggles of Haiti etched eternally on their faces.
Loving eyes struggle to keep watch, watch the IV, watch the oxygen, watch the temperature.
Days and nights of watching and the eyes fight to stay open.
Loving arms balancing restless sick children.
Road weary feet swollen and hot from days in the hospital.
Days sitting on blue chairs.
Nights sitting on blue chairs.
With occasional respite found on a sheet on the hard tiles.
Tiny babies – 500 lbs, 1 kilo, less than 500 lbs.
Big kids swollen.
A boy shoved a bead up his nose.
A boy shoved a pea in his ear.
Big babies.
Small babies.
Fighting for each breath, oxygen, IV, nurses desperately trying to find tiny veins.
All veins seem to stay at home.
Valiant nurses keep trying.
Dehydrated bodies.
Busy, busy nurses.
Fighting with death daily.
Fighting for life.
And still the patients come.
From all over the country.
Looking for life.
No more room.
Make room.
How to refuse.
How to say yes.
Young mothers – kids themselves.
Young fathers – hurtled into the realities of parenthood.
Pneumonia the biggest killer of kids under 5 in Haiti.
Racing hearts, gurgling lungs.
Scared parents.
Small kid – huge tummy
Tiny premie – went to God.
Beautiful Chloe, trying to breathe.
Eyes fixed on her praying crying aunt as if to say, “why me? I am just a tiny baby. Why is so hard for me to breathe”.
Can she know she has a heart problem and she has not long left.
Her poor Mam.
Doctors trying to find space.
Meeting after meeting, trying to find ways to find money to keep this hospital open.
We can’t afford to keep it open.
We can’t afford to close it.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Life and death – always dancing together.
Dancing around the beds.
Fighting around the beds.
It should be so easy for life to win.
Suffering is there with them.
Yes indeed suffering and more suffering.
Mothers and nurses and doctors and fathers joined together, united together.
An eternal circle, comings and goings.
Different faces.
The same suffering.
The same fight for life.
Every year I get an insight into the realities of life here as Marcus* takes me inside our hospital emergency room.
St. Damien Pediatric Hospital.
The ONLY pediatric hospital in Haiti.
Don’t read this and feel sad.

Read this and help us in our fight for life.

Contributed by Gena Heraty, NPH Haiti Special Needs Director

Photo credit: Giles Ashford

*Named changed for privacy purposes. Marcus lives at the NPH Haiti home, Kay Christine. He is 15-years-old and is fighting an infection and is currently at our St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. Please keep him in your prayers.

Summer at Kay Germaine


It’s summer time here in Kay Germaine and all the children are on their holidays. However, while the school is quiet, therapy is still offered and patients continue to make the sometimes difficult journey here for treatment. By the end of the year we estimate that over 550 children and adults will come through our therapy center.

Benefits of Working Together

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Based out of Mare Rouge, Akyson Gasmy (AG) provides rehabilitation and eduction services to people with special needs in the northern diocese of Port de Paix; one of the most rural and isolated areas in Haiti. Over the last number of years, we have partnered with AG to assist in the training of their therapists and teachers through work placements in Kay Germaine, monthly training formations and outreach visits.

The pictures above are from our outreach visit last week.