We are grateful to have a staff of more than 100 caring individuals working at Saint Vincent’s Centre. Here are just a few!
Saint Vincent’s is well known for its handbell choir. Comprised of blind and visually impaired students and adults, the choir has performed hundreds of times, enthralling audiences with their talents. Because of damage sustained in the 2010 earthquake and years of use, the bells gradually became tarnished, cracked, and out of tune. Earlier this year, the director of Saint Vincent’s contacted Dirk Martin for help in getting the handbells refurbished.
Originally from Ohio, Dirk and Karen Martin have lived in Haiti since 1986. Dirk is a certified orientation and mobility specialist currently providing services to the blind in the area of Les Cayes. He has been connected to the work of Saint Vincent’s for many years, serving for 10 years as a music teacher and blindness rehabilitation instructor. He still visits the school every month or so to visit his friends and former students. He also works with Winide, the current orientation and mobility specialist on staff at the Centre.
A musician himself, Dirk recognized the importance of getting the bells repaired and back to the musicians at Saint Vincent’s. He contacted Hope Lennartz (CT) and the Friends of Saint Vincent who had organized previous repair work for the bells. Hope made the arrangements stateside, and Dirk and Karen packed up the bells and shipped them to Schulmerich Carillons in Pennsylvania for restoration. While there, the bells were polished, tuned and repaired. Some even needed to be recast in order to repair the hairline cracks they had.
After their much-needed repairs, the bells were returned to the Centre in early November. To everyone’s great pleasure, the handbell choir is now ready to perform again and share their gifts with the people of Haiti. They had a debut concert on November 9th.
Thank you to all those who helped make this happen!
In October 2016, Dr. Alicia Groce and optometry resident Dr. Kelly Varney visited Saint Vincent’s from the Southern College of Optometry (SCO). They were there as representatives of SVOSH, SCO’s student chapter of VOSH International (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity). VOSH International is an organization dedicated to providing free quality vision care services to people around the world.
This was Kelly’s first visit to Haiti, but Alicia and other SCO representatives visited Saint Vincent’s this past May. At that time, they performed visual assessments on 409 children and adults. They distributed 74 pairs of prescription eyeglasses to some of the patients they saw, but they also took measurements back with them to the US. When they returned in October, Alicia and Kelly delivered an additional 80 pairs of glasses which had been made specifically for the patients they met. They also provided 217 pairs of sunglasses during their two visits.
Kelly and Alicia were the only visitors this time, but they represented the support of countless individuals. Their combined efforts provided the frames, lenses, money and expertise needed to—in some cases—literally enable blind people to see. They shared a story of one young student who needed to be escorted by friends everywhere she went. After she got her glasses, though, her life completely changed. Suddenly she could be seen running up stairs and around the campus on her own. The people who knew her were astonished at the difference…it was truly a miracle for all of them.
Alicia also shared how rewarding it was to be a part of the process from beginning to end. As a doctor specializing in pediatric optometry, she performs many eye exams each year. She doesn’t often have the chance to put glasses on someone’s face for the first time, though, so being able to witness people’s lives being changed was an amazing experience for her. She said, “I could definitely see the impact of all the work we had done.”
SCO has made the commitment to return to Saint Vincent’s each year. Their intent is to offer glasses to everyone who needs them, even providing a backup pair whenever possible. They’ll continue to take a variety of the most common prescriptions with them, but they’ll also gladly make glasses for those who need them. This is a wonderful gift to our community, and we are grateful for their partnership with us.
Click below to learn more about the equitherapy program being provided by Medi for Help. This is a wonderful opportunity for our community. We’re so grateful to have them as a partner organization!
Final Update on Hurricane Matthew
Things at the Centre are gradually returning to normal after the effects of Hurricane Matthew. School resumed on Monday, 10/10, and most students were in attendance. A few staff members have taken time off to tend to family concerns. Most of the clinic’s medical professionals served as emergency responders in the hardest-hit areas, but they are now back in Port-au-Prince and have resumed daily activities for SVC. The water pump at the Centre has been repaired and potable water is now available for both consumption and sale to the community. There has been no apparent increase in illness within the community, and the weather has continued to be kind.
The Centre continues to experience a critical need for food and other items. Prices around Port-au-Prince are still above average, so the staff members are working hard to cover all the needed areas. While there is a current supply of rice, spaghetti and cornmeal on hand, they have been unable to provide the proteins and high-nutrient items needed for a balanced diet. This is especially critical for the students and residents who require ongoing medical care. There is a continuing need for bleach and disinfectants, first aid and medical supplies, household items (toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, gloves, diapers, toiletries, batteries, etc.).
How You Can Help
In addition to the critical items listed above, regular financial support is needed for food, water, classroom supplies, transportation, salaries, utilities, medicines and other items always in short supply. As many of our students and clinic patients are unable to pay for the services they receive at Saint Vincent Centre, we depend heavily on the generosity of others to help us fulfill our mission.
Please continue to keep Saint Vincent’s in your prayers and share our story with others. We would be grateful if you would consider making a one-time or regular gift to support our work. You may click the “Donate” link at http://stvincentshaiti.org to make a secure online donation or learn how to donate by mail.
If you have questions or would like more information about any aspect of the organization, please contact Jennifer Wickham, the Development Coordinator for Saint Vincent’s Centre. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated information about Saint Vincent is regularly posted on the SVC website (http://stvincentshaiti.org). You can also follow us on Facebook (“Centre Saint Vincent Haiti” and “Centre St Vincent Pour Enfants Handicapes”), Twitter (stvincentshaiti) and Instagram (stvincentshaiti).
In solidarity with the parts of the country hit by Hurricane Matthew, some of our residents went to CMMB and helped pack relief supplies for Côte de Fer. Thank you, Judith Telus, Mackenson, Adeline, Carline and Schneider! Amazing!
Nan solidarite ak pati pyès sa yo nan peyi a frape pa Hurricane Matthew, kèk nan rezidan nou te ale nan CMMB epi li te ede pake pwovizyon pou sekou pou Côte de Fer. Mèsi poutèt ou, Judith Telus, Mackenson, Adeline, Carline ak Schneider! Etonan!
The impact of Hurricane Matthew on the country has been profound. While events are still unfolding, there are reports of widespread flooding, property damage and loss of life across the country. The impact appears to have been greatest on the Tiburon Peninsula and the southern coast, but damage assessments are still being conducted around the country. It will likely be some time before the full picture becomes clear. We do not expect Tropical Storm Nicole to affect Haiti, but there are increasing reports of a new tropical disturbance forming near the Windward Islands. News outlets in Haiti are advising people to prepare in case there’s a second weather event.
The school will be closed until Monday, 10/10. The clinic and brace shop are closed and hope to reopen on Thursday, 10/6. The two properties suffered only minor damage from wind or water, but potable water is unavailable and power has been unreliable. (The Centre does have a working generator, but the water pumps are broken.)
The Centre’s 30 permanent residents are safe and were unharmed. The 250+ students of the school remain at home with their families. It is unknown at this point whether any of them experienced injury or property damage, but we anticipate this will be the case. The Centre’s staff and faculty members are reporting missing family members and there is widespread nervousness about the possibility of another storm, even if it only proves to be a rain event. Authorities are advising people to expect an increase in cholera and other water-borne illnesses.
Tremendous financial support is needed to help us respond to the needs of our community. Food and water at the Centre are in short supply. Administrative Manager Aurélie Fièvre reports that there has been a sharp spike in prices, so the limited funding they do have is not enough to cover their needs.
Funds are needed immediately for critical items such as:
- Drinking drinkable water and food
- Bleach, disinfectants and hand sanitizer
- First aid supplies and medicines for cholera, diarrhea, etc.
- Household items (toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, gloves, diapers, toiletries, batteries, flashlights, etc.)
YOUR SUPPORT IS URGENTLY NEEDED. Please share our story with others and consider making a one-time or regular gift. Click the “Donate” link at http://stvincentshaiti.org to make a secure online donation or learn how to donate by mail.
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Jennifer Wickham, the Development Coordinator for Saint Vincent’s Centre. You may reach her at email@example.com.
Updated information about conditions at SVC will be posted on the SVC website (http://stvincentshaiti.org). You can also follow us on Facebook (“Centre Saint Vincent Haiti” and “Centre St Vincent Pour Enfants Handicapes”), Twitter (stvincentshaiti) and Instagram (stvincentshaiti).
It’s still raining hard. The back end of the storm is hitting us now. The buildings are holding up, thank God. Flooding in the city is increasing.
School closed until Monday.
Pere Fanfan says: “Clauricianne, Judith and Genie are back. Clauricianne and Judith are with me in my office. We are going to have manyok tonight with gengember tea.”
The next few days will bring additional news about the students, teachers and families.
The vigil continues.
Pere Fanfan reports that all is well this morning. He visited the parish of Notre Dame to check on things and then went to Saint Vincent. The rains are still coming, but the storm appears to be moving away from them. The buildings at SVC appear to be dry, and the residents are well. They’re all enjoying spaghetti for breakfast. Thank you for your prayers! We will send updates on the other students when we hear news.
It has been a long day of watching and waiting. There is not much to report other than what was said earlier. Everyone continues to shelter in place and wait for the storm to arrive. The winds have picked up this evening and the rain is starting to come. Tonight we expect the storm to hit with full force. It also appears to be slowing down, so it could be on top of us for a while. It is possible we will lose communication in the next day or so, but we’ll post updates when we can. Please pray for the people of Haiti.