New School Director

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Cassendre Pierre as the new School Director at Kay Ste. Germaine Special Needs School.

Cassendre worked as a primary teacher in a mainstream school before joining Kay Ste. Germaine in 2013. She was employed as a speech and language therapist until her recent promotion to School Director.

Cassendre’s vision for our school is to work on students’ communication and social skills to improve integration at family and community level. Cassendre wants to see our students taking an active part in life outside school, socialising with other children and being accepted by society. She hopes to achieve this by working collaboratively with teachers, therapists, students and parents alike.

When asked what her favourite thing about Kay Ste. Germaine is Cassendre replies, ‘Teamwork! In other schools teachers instruct and students sit and learn. In this school we work together to achieve the best possible outcomes based on each student’s level of ability. We set class and individual goals to ensure that everyone has a chance to achieve their full potential’.

Cassendre is a very popular member of staff and we wish her every success as she adapts to her new role. There are sure to be challenges ahead but we know that Cassendre has the skills and talent to overcome them. The very best of luck to you Cassendre. We believe in you!

Graduation Day

Graduation day at Kay Ste. Germaine Special Needs School last Friday 16th June 2017.
 
Eleven exceptional young people assembled to mark the end of their time at our school. Staff, students and family members gathered to support them.
 
In a country like Haiti, where individuals with disabilities are often ignored, dismissed and kept at the margins of society, it was a privilege to celebrate our graduates and see them participate fully in every aspect of Friday’s ceremony.
 
Our graduates were beautifully dressed for the occasion, they sang and read at Mass and their strengths and achievements were highlighted for all to hear. Their proud parents spoke movingly about the positive impact that our inclusive school environment has had on their children and families.
 
There were some tears on the day. That’s what happens when you leave a safe and supportive environment; it’s a very human reaction to change. But overall, it was a day of huge pride and even greater joy.
 
There is no greater motivator for us than to know that our work contributes to the confidence, happiness and well-being of the children who leave our school every year. We couldn’t ask for better ambassadors; our graduates advocate persuasively for themselves and others like them.
 
We will miss our graduates and wish them well in everything that the future holds for them. Our campus is quiet for the Summer now. We can’t wait to welcome our new students in September.
 
In the meantime, have a happy holiday and enjoy these colourful photos!
 
 
 

Therapist Training

Last Friday saw the completion of a two-week therapy training course here at Kay Ste. Germaine. The course was given by a team of international experts from the University of Genoa and was attended by 25 therapeutic and medical staff.
 
The attendees included NPH Haiti therapists and staff from our partner organisation Akyson Gasmy, a small NGO that delivers basic services to isolated families in the north-west of the country. It was also attended by staff from two local hospitals and a prosthetic centre.
 
The training was intensive and covered topics such as brain function, child development, motor skills and disability rights. It also included practical demonstrations of technique with children from our services.
 
We would like to extend our most sincere and heartfelt thanks to Caterina Castagneto, Carlo Amoretti, Sabrina Cerutti and Martina Canone for travelling to Haiti on a voluntary basis to share their knowledge and expertise with us. The kindness in that gesture was very much appreciated. We would also like to thank the Rotary Club in Imperia and the University of Genoa for their financial and practical support of this visit. We are very grateful to you.
 
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the commitment of all attendees, who grasped this learning opportunity with both hands. Many Haitian children will benefit from that learning in terms of the enhanced rehabilitative care that will be delivered here. Their parents and families will also feel the effects of the work that took place.
 
NPH Haiti is passionately committed to strengthening its professional capacity and to contributing to medical expertise at a national level. Our ultimate aim is to achieve participation, equality and full human rights for individuals with disability in Haiti. Quality training initiatives like this take us one step closer to that goal.
 
Thanks to everyone involved. You have heartened us on our journey. We look forward to further collaboration with you and to the continuation of this excellent training programme in September 2017 and early 2018.

Happy National Flag Day!

Happy National Flag Day to all our friends and supporters in Haiti and beyond!

Haiti is the only nation in the world to be established after a successful slave revolt so the Haitian flag has a very proud history. The staff and students of Kay Ste. Germaine Special Needs School take great pride in this symbol of their national identity. The Haitian flag is raised with great respect before school every morning while the national anthem is sung.

We wish you a day as bright and cheerful as our National Flag Day party yesterday. Bon fèt drapo tout moun!

Easter Visit from Haiti Orphanage Project ESPWA (Hope)

Sincere thanks from the bottom of our hearts to Joe Clancy, Helen Connolly and Kieran Tansey of Haiti Orphanage Project ESPWA (Hope) for the wonderful work they did during their recent visit to Kenscoff.

In just a few days, the ESPWA Haiti team and their local crew managed to repair and paint the 2,500 square feet roof over Kay Christine, our residential home for children and adults with special needs. The silicone paint donated by Haven Partnership will seal the roof for decades to come, protecting residents from the worst effects of the cool and wet climate in Kenscoff. Concrete works were also carried out at the front of Kay Christine to improve accessibility for wheelchair users.

This demanding schedule of works was completed on time and in spite of heavy rain showers most days but the work programme is only ever half the story. ESPWA Haiti has established close personal ties with everyone at NPH Special Needs Programs including local labourers, service users and staff. It gladdens our hearts to see you come; it was a privilege to host you again and to share in Joe’s joyful birthday celebrations.

ESPWA Haiti has moved beyond acts of generosity towards the people of Haiti to a real solidarity with them. It’s the type of solidarity that Pope Francis describes when he says we need to ‘confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, touch it, make it our own and take practical steps to alleviate it’. That solidarity is evident in the regular visits and in the work that goes on to facilitate them; background work of every kind throughout the year. We see it and are deeply grateful.

So, from the comfort of our freshly-sealed home and newly-repaired front yard, we say thanks again to Joe, Helen, Kieran, ESPWA Haiti and all your supporters and donors from everyone in Kenscoff, where, in the words of the Haitian poet Marc Christophe, ‘the mountains stretch out, lazily, in the predawn light … and hope never dies’.

Today, our wonderful director here at Kay Ste. Germaine celebrates her birthday.

Jean François Finesse has worked with NPH Haiti for 24 years. When asked what her busy job involves she says ‘tout bagay’ (everything) and we have to agree.

Madame Finesse’s favourite part of the day is overseeing the preparation and delivery of the school meal; she likes to know that the children here are eating well.

Happy birthday to you Madame Finesse, from all in the NPH Haiti Special Needs Programme. We wish you every blessing today and always.

Kanaval 2017

It’s Kanaval season in Haiti!

Kanaval is a Mardi Gras festival that coincides with others around the world. Traditionally, Mardi Gras allowed people to celebrate and enjoy themselves before the fasting and penance of Lent.

The first Haitian Kanaval took place in Port-au-Prince in 1804. Since then, the festival has evolved into one of the largest Mardi Gras festivals in the Caribbean with music, bands, processions and parades.

Haitian Kanaval begins in February and ends on Shrove Tuesday. Kanaval is an important cultural showcase with traditional costumes and local music like ‘kompa’ taking centre stage.  

Here at NPH Haiti Special Needs Programmes, we believe in the full participation of our service users as active Haitian citizens. If the rest of the country is having a party, then we are too! This is how we celebrated Kanaval 2017 at Kay Ste. Germaine special needs school today; a real riot of colour.

Viva Kanaval!

 

 

NPH Haiti 30th Anniversary Celebrations

NPH has been in Haiti for 30 years, addressing the needs of the poor, raising children in a loving environment and developing future leaders. This work began in 1987 when Fr. William Wasson founded a home for orphaned and abandoned children at Kenscoff. We returned to Kenscoff to celebrate three decades of good work since. 

In the days leading up to the anniversary party on Sunday 22nd January 2017, the campus at St. Helene was a hive of activity. The grounds were cleaned, buildings were brightened up and works were carried out to enhance the outdoor event space, where Mass was due to take place. Food was prepared for the large crowd expected; every staff member and resident did their bit to help. Spirits were high and the excitement was palpable.

The big day arrived and so did the crowds. We welcomed about 2,000 local dignitaries, staff, friends, families, representatives of community organisations and former residents. They all gathered at Kenscoff to celebrate with us and mark our milestone. The sun shone and a beautiful Mass was celebrated in the open air; joyful singing and graceful dancing brought the liturgy to life in true Haitian style. Fr. Rick Frechette CP, National Director of NPH Haiti, was also celebrating 30 years in the country, a significant personal achievement as well as a professional one.

An energetic entertainment programme followed, with the children and young adults of Kenscoff seizing the opportunity to display a variety of talents, from hip-hop dancing to slam poetry. NPH programme graduates spoke movingly about what the organisation means to them; their personal testimonies were very powerful. Then it was time for refreshments. Everyone enjoyed their meal of grilled chicken, rice and fresh salad with a slice of celebratory cake. The day ended with a giant raffle for much-coveted prizes; a fitting crescendo to a very memorable day.

NPH has endured in Haiti through political upheaval, natural disaster and a catastrophic earthquake in 2010. It is a loyal friend and good neighbour to the people of Haiti and a passionate advocate for its young citizens and those with special needs. Here’s to another 30 years of working together to save and change many lives.

Human Dignity Award for Gena Heraty, Special Needs Programme Director

Congratulations to our Special Needs Programme Director Gena Heraty who received a humanitarian award at the Irish Oireachtas today, Thursday 8th December 2016. The Human Dignity Award honours people whose commitment to the promotion of human dignity has been exemplary. Her award was presented by Ceann Comhairle, Sean O Fearghail, TD and Senator Ronan Mullen of the Oireachtas Human Dignity Group. 

Gena Heraty has worked in Haiti for 23 years. Under her leadership, the Special Needs Programme has grown to include educational, healthcare and residential services that support hundreds of vulnerable children and families in Port-au-Prince and beyond. Gena provides essential services in a way that truly honours human dignity. She does this with patience, integrity and grace in a very challenging environment. 

To the people of Haiti, Gena Heraty is quite simply one of their own. Her long-term presence here means more than any words or promises ever could. Her passionate commitment to their needs doesn’t waver; her impact here over half a lifetime is immense.

Gena is an inspiring figure both personally and professionally. We all feel proud and privileged to work with her. Congratulations on your award Gena! Nobody we know deserves it more.

 

8.12.2016 MAYO WOMAN RECEIVES OIREACHTAS DIGNITY AWARD. Well known Irish volunteer in Haiti Gena Heraty today (8.12.16) received the Oireachtas Human Dignity Award from Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail TD at a cermony in Leinster House. The award now in it's third year is presented annually by the Oireachtas Human Dignity Group to a person whose commitment to the promotion of human dignity has been exemplary. Ms Heraty from Westport Co Mayo is a member of the Catholic lay missionary association Viatores Christi. She went to Haiti in 1993 and has remained there ever since as a volunteer with NPH (Our Little Brothers and Sisters)-an orphange in the hillside village of Kenscoff 10km from Port-au-Prince. Pic shows Gena Heraty being presented with the Oireachtas Human Dignity Award by Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail TD with Senator Ronan Mullen on Thursday morning at a cermony in Leinster House. Pic John Mc Elroy. NO REPRO FEE. Further Info: Senator Ronan Mullen 087-2446911 or (01) 6183930

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

By Jacinta McGuane, Teacher Trainer

Today is International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Yesterday, at Kay Ste. Germaine we celebrated the occasion with the children, team and families of the NPFS (NPH) Special Needs Programs in Haiti. It was a wonderful day, the highlight of the year for all. Everyone was dressed beautifully and participated in a special mass and cultural activities. Thank you to all our supporters the world over for your kindness and generosity.

 

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