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.
Saint Vincent is an extended family. We are all tied together by a cause which keeps us definitively dependent on each other in good or bad situations. There is Haitian proverb saying: SELEW NAN MALE OU KONEN SIW GEN BON ZANMI. We are getting emails from everywhere. First from the board members of Saint Vincent we get some warm love. They call to make sure that all decisions have been made to secure our children. It is so lovely to have ZANMI LWEN. The Friends of Saint Vincent are sharing words of comfort with the residents by WhatsApp. Susan Nelson wears a bracelet given to her by Mackenson in solidarity with Haiti. All of these meaningful signs of affection touch our heart.
It is getting serious now. The heavy rain just started. MATTHEW just announced that he is visiting Haiti. The government just cut the power to avoid danger of any sort. We already lost one man in the South. He was a fisherman.
I hope we will be able to continue to feed you information.
UPDATE ON HURRICANE MATTHEW
As many of you know, Hurricane Matthew poses an imminent threat to the country of Haiti. As of 11 a.m. EDT (10/3/16), Matthew was listed as a Category 4 hurricane, with winds measured at 140 mph. Strong winds are already present in Haiti, and the heaviest rains are expected to begin early Monday afternoon. The storm could last anywhere from 24-48 hours, and rainfall estimates could reach 40”+ in some areas.
The government of Haiti has advised people to seek high ground and shelter in place. Along with all other schools in the area, Saint Vincent’s has been closed for Monday and Tuesday. The students are with their families, and the Centre’s residents are safe. Father Frantz “Fanfan” Cole (Centre Director) and Aurélie Fièvre (Administrative Manager) are working diligently to stay on top of the situation and will make the necessary decisions to adapt to changing conditions.
All information about conditions at SVC will be posted on the SVC website (http://stvincentshaiti.org). Communication may become difficult as the storm progresses, but every effort will be made to provide current status reports.
How You Can Help
We anticipate Hurricane Matthew to have a significant impact on the Saint Vincent community. Your financial support will ensure that they are able to respond to whatever situations arise from the storm. In addition to costs related to this current crisis, on-going financial support is needed to help provide food, water, classroom supplies, transportation, salaries, utilities, medicines and other items.
Please consider making a one-time or regular gift on behalf of your household, business or organization. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please send your tax-deductible donation to:
925 Hertzler Road
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
You may also make an online donation by visiting CMMH.org and clicking on the “Donate” tab.
In a memorandum of understanding with the Saint Vincent’s Centre’s Board of Directors, the Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti (a 501(c)(3) charitable organization) has agreed to function as the fiscal agent for SVC. All donations received for the benefit of SVC are tax-deductible, and gift acknowledgements will be provided by CMMH. Funds sent to SVC by CMMH go directly to the Centre’s bank account in Port-au-Prince and are used to pay salaries, buy food, electricity, and cover other operating expenses. Both CMMH and the SVC Board of Directors receive regular financial reports from the Centre detailing funds received and payments made.
At 8 o’clock a.m., the students lined up in silence for the rise of the Haitian flag. Just a few moments earlier, the school yard and playground were full of noise as students, teachers and parents all expressed their joy at seeing one other again. Returning students felt at home, but the new students were shy and holding on to their parents. Pere Fanfan said a prayer and then the students headed to their classrooms. The children were so happy to be there! You could tell by their smiles and voices. The teachers said that this is the first time in years that there were so many students on the first day of class. 100 students attended today, but more are enrolled and will join us soon. Some of the classes include Kreyol instruction, math, reading, music and a new series of classes presented by Handicap International. The first day went by fast, but it was a great success! We wish a successful year to all our students and teachers!
Every year the children are given the opportunity to participate in a summer program called “campJacob,” hosted by Jacob’s Color Link Initiative. During camp, the children are given the opportunity to experience life outside the Centre. For seven days they are able to relax, enjoy nature, and have fun. Whether it’s in the suburbs or at the beach, the change of scenery is good. The exotic life they experience through TV, radio or books finally becomes theirs for a little while.
Although campJacob is designed to be fun, its sole purpose is to provide holistic therapy. This year’s staff included a drama therapist, a creative arts therapist, an Olympic swim coach, two physical therapists, an occupational therapist, a massage therapist, two music and language teachers. Twenty other professional counselors served on staff, including two deaf teachers from the Texas School for the Deaf.
This year, the children spent an unforgettable week at Royal Decameron beach resort. On the way there they sang, laughed, clapped and shared stories. They all made plans and promised to take pictures by the pool and play games. Some were sad that cell phone use was prohibited, but that was the only complaint. Even those who can’t talk expressed their joy with their smiles and gestures.
It was a wonderful week, and they were so grateful for the experience. They can’t wait to do it again!
Jonas Nazaire came to SVC in second grade and was introduced to a sponsor from the United States. (The sponsor has asked that her name to be withheld.) Jonas is now 27 years old, and the special relationship he has with his American friend has grown over the years. Their weekly conversations are sacred moments which provide him with tremendous emotional and psychological support. Jonas states that her friendship is especially meaningful because he doesn’t live with his biological mother. His mother lives in one of the poorest areas of Port-au-Prince, and struggles with diabetes and unemployment. Père Fanfan met with her not too long ago and she thanked God for everyone at the Centre who has given her son another chance at life. Jonas is learning to be a computer technician, despite his motor impairment, and enjoys helping Père Fanfan with his computer work.
In the fall of 2015, The Rt. Rev. Jean-Zaché Duracin (Bishop of the Diocese of Haiti) called for the formation of a new governing board to support the work of Saint Vincent Centre. The SVC Board of Directors (which includes members from both Haiti and the United States) is responsible for creating a strategic plan, setting policies, and providing oversight of all daily and long-term activities of of SVC.
The Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti (CMMH) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization incorporated in the U.S. and has been supporting Saint Vincent’s Centre for Handicapped Children since its formation in 1993. Its primary role has been to raise money for the operations of the Centre and to sponsor biennial Haiti Connection Conferences. CMMH is represented on the SVC board by Ken Quigley, CMMH’s secretary/treasurer.
In a memorandum of understanding with the Saint Vincent Centre’s Board of Directors, the Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti has agreed to function as the fiscal agent for SVC. All donations received for the benefit of SVC are tax-deductible, and gift acknowledgements will be provided by CMMH. Funds sent to SVC by CMMH go directly to the Centre’s bank account in Port-au-Prince and are used to pay salaries, buy food, electricity, and cover other operating expenses. Both CMMH and the SVC Board of Directors receive regular financial reports from the Centre detailing funds received and payments made.
Click HERE to learn more about CMMH.
I am grateful for the common vision and love we share for the children of Saint Vincent. First and foremost, we want to see the children move to a new facility and become comfortable in their new home. They have seen buildings destroyed around their old school as the government rebuilds downtown, so we need to remember that stability and security are primary concerns when the time arrives to move.
It is also vital for our children to be able to integrate within society. At SVC we have children who have no disabilities, but the majority of our children have some kind of challenge. By learning side by side, all our students have the opportunity to learn from one another and integrate easily–regardless of their physical challenges.
We want the children of Saint Vincent to finish their education, become employed and build homes for themselves. Not only will this enhance their lives, it will also create room for new students at Saint Vincent. We want the members of our community to connect with people who will help them become employed and fulfill their dreams.
We desire to work with all of you in providing the best for the children of Saint Vincent. The vision of the church is to work with those who are in need, especially those who have special needs. LET’S DO WHAT GOD CALLS US TO DO. Amen.
—Père Frantz “Fanfan” Cole
The powerful earthquake of January 12, 2010 took the lives of ten members of the community and destroyed most of the SVC complex. In the aftermath, the academic, administrative and residential facilities were relocated, and temporary structures were built to provide additional space. The medical clinic and brace shop remained in the original location. For several years, these two sites have been the home of Saint Vincent Centre.
In the fall of 2015, generous gifts from Dr. Mary White, Episcopal Relief and Development, and the Episcopal Church were used to purchase property for future development. Referred to as “Santo 17”, the seven-acre site is located in a suburb northeast of Port-au-Prince. Surrounded by a security wall, the new property includes a large house which can be converted into a residence hall, fruit trees, and farmable land. It also includes a swimming pool which can be adapted for physical therapy.
In June 2016, the SVC Board of Directors voted to proceed with renovations to the Santo 17 site. Construction plans include housing for residential students, kitchen facilities, classrooms, and administrative offices. Andy Ripp from MSAADA Architects estimates that students will be able to relocate within the next several months. The brace shop and clinic will continue in their current location downtown. A fundraising goal of $400,000 has been set to cover the cost of renovation, construction, equipment and furnishings at the new facility.
We are pleased to announce that the Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti has made a pledge of $100,000 to help SVC meet its fundraising goal. Our hope is that this gift will kick-start the fundraising campaign and encourage others to support the future mission and ministry of Saint Vincent Centre. Your help is also needed to make this dream a reality, so we ask you to join us!
You may make your tax-deductible contribution by visiting CMMH.org and clicking on the “Donate” link.
In a memorandum of understanding with the Saint Vincent Centre’s Board of Directors, the Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti (a 501(c)(3) charitable organization) has agreed to function as the fiscal agent for SVC. All donations received for the benefit of SVC are tax-deductible, and gift acknowledgements will be provided by CMMH. Funds sent to SVC by CMMH go directly to the Centre’s bank account in Port-au-Prince and are used to pay salaries, buy food, electricity, and cover other operating expenses. Both CMMH and the SVC Board of Directors receive regular financial reports from the Centre detailing funds received and payments made.
We are saddened by the recent death of Joseph Jean Paul, known to friends far and wide as “Jojo.” He died on Saturday, May 14, 2016 after a brief and sudden illness.
Jojo first arrived at Saint Vincent’s Centre for Handicapped Children when he was eight years old. Sister Joan Margaret, the founder of Saint Vincent’s, took him in and helped him become a pillar of the Saint Vincent community. An extremely talented artist and outgoing presence on campus, Jojo exemplified the ministry and vision of Saint Vincent’s. Many who visited the campus encountered Jojo’s smiling face and welcoming presence, and he was well known as a man full of vitality and generosity.
A celebration of his life took place at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince on May 28. Dr. Susan Nelson attended the service and states that the service was standing-room only. Prayers and readings were shared by current and former members of the Saint Vincent’s community, including Père Sadoni Leon and Père Frantz “Fanfan” Cole. A special musical offering was made by members of the SVC bell choir. Dr. Pean, Government Minister for the Handicapped, spoke about the immortal personage of JoJo.
Dr. Nelson writes, “It was a privilege to be part of the mourning time with St Vincent’s children and staff. Many of the older staff have known Jojo for 30-40 years, and the children have known him all their lives…Please pray for the community at the school; they have lost their strongest advocate and their guardian. Jojo watched everyone who came into the school and knew who was supposed to be there and who wasn’t. Who will do this job now?”
A memorial fund has been set up in his honor by the Children’s Medical Mission of Haiti. This fund will be used for student expenses, scholarships and other operating costs of the Centre. You may make your tax-deductible contribution by visiting CMMH.org and clicking on the “Donate” link. We appreciate your support, and we ask that you pray along with us for Jojo, his family, friends, and the entire Saint Vincent community.