Story from previous nph.org post from November 2010.
I suppose when people think of Haiti these days the last thing they think of is a nice swimming pool – even more unlikely, of handicapped children in Haiti swimming in that pool. Yet the pictures attached show some of our most severely disabled children from Kay Christine, a home in the Ste. Helene orphanage, enjoying the warm water in our pool in Kay Ste. Germaine.
You might try and imagine the excitement this morning when they realized they were going on a trip – getting all dressed up, getting into our brand new mini bus (kindly donated by a generous donor in Switzerland) and then the long trek down the mountain until we got to the rehab centre. By the time we got here (it took two hours) everyone was ready.
Yves could not wait – gesturing with his hands for us to move along and get him in the water. Indira had to have physical therapy beforehand so she had to be more patient than the others. Yvenson, usually bouncing about the place, was unusually quiet as he seemed to understand that he was in a new place and about to have a new experience. Xiomala was like a professional – she knew what to expect.
Once in the water, kids and helpers alike were soon very comfortable and I, sweating on deck, was wondering why the heck I was also not swimming. Well someone had to stay out and organize I reckoned, but….
Before the January earthquake, Molly Hightower, a wonderful young American volunteer, worked with kids in the pool. After her death (due to the earthquake), it was strange to think of getting back into “her” pool as we all missed her too much. Amy, another American volunteer who worked with us in March, had offered to help us with the swimming program. Then it was too early for us, but when she offered to come again, we decided to take her up on her offer – it was time. Amy, on this particular morning as on others, was the guide as she was able to explain to all the best way to make the therapy effective for the kids. She herself was very happy to have a captive audience in the staff so hopefully when she leaves, some of her techniques will be continued. I think that Molly is happy to see kids back in the pool and while we miss her a lot, I feel for sure that she is not too far from us!
Haiti is full of problems. Haiti is full of promise. When I watched these kids today and thought of all the people who made it possible for them to be there, I realized again that we must always be people of hope! In times of trouble it is easy to give up hope. I always think that one of the greatest blessings in my life is the fact that I live with the kids in Kay Christine. Time and time again, they give me strength. Time and time again, they smile their smiles of love on me and encourage me to keep working to try and make life better for other kids like them in Haiti. It is a big job but with them behind me, and a wonderful staff (local and international) beside me, we will keep going – one smile at a time!
Contributed by Gena Heraty, Special Needs Program Director