Dear Friends in the US,
On behalf of the children of St Vincent, I present to you my greeting. It is an honor for me to give you some news regarding St Vincent from July to December 2013.
We ended the school year 2012-2013 with 230 children. We had a great school year. Certainly we did have some difficulties, but with the donations and expertise of our partners, our experiences, and our dedication, we overcame these situations.
As usual at the end of the school year in July, St Vincent’s students took part in the official exams organized by the government. All the 17 students succeeded in these exams! Apart from the blindness and physical challenges that will always be present at these exams, this year 6 deaf children took part in these exams for the first time. We accomplished this goal through the training that our Canadian and American friends gave to our teachers this year.
Also this year for the first time we have a ceremony of graduation for children in the 3rd year of preschool. It was amazing, the parents were very happy to see what they are used to see normal children achieve arrive in the life of their children.
In order to help the children experience what usually people who don’t have any handicaps experience, several activities have been organized: They visited two museums, one in downtown Port-au-Prince and the other one in the country side. One spelling contest has been organized. It was amazing to see the deaf in this contest.
We started a new school year last October with 250 children in the school including 76 residential. Our teachers as usual were very motivated to work with the children and help them succeed. Our headmaster, Junior Alexis, came from 9 months training at Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, MA. He’s started making some changes on a pedagogical level.
Our staff of one orthopedic, one ophthalmologist, one pediatrician, one general practitioner, one technician in Audiology and 2 physical therapist technicians are doing their best to keep the clinic activities running. This year we have received the visit of two Memphis medical teams and the Healing Hand Team/Canada. Their visits allowed us to evaluate the children’s health quality and distribute hearing aids to them and the outpatients. We have clinic Monday to Friday, from 8 to 4, depending on the schedule.
In July, Bishop Duracin inaugurated the brace shop, renovated with a CMMB (Catholic Medical Mission Board) contribution. They brought new equipment and trained our staff. We have a two years’ partnership with them. During this partnership they promise to support the brace shop financially, give training and assist with the management.
We just celebrated the International day for handicapped people on December 3rd. As usual we have the mass celebrated by Bishop Duracin and two different activities for people in the community and the teachers. We have a great celebration and it has been considered by the state, by the local organization, as the official activity for the day.
We are now at the end of the year, the end of the first trimester of the school year. School will end on December 20th, and for this day we plan to have a little party for the children in which we hope to give to each of them a little gift.
Despite the different progress mentioned in the preceding paragraph, St Vincent’s actually faced many challenges.
Two years ago, CRS [Catholic Relief Services], which had a long relationship with St Vincent announced that it is no longer giving food to St Vincent. They do not give too much reason that pushes them to take such a decision. They just say they are no longer involved in food distribution. The Government food program that they had in the school also stopped. As food for the poor, occasionally some give bag of rice and beans to the center, but it is not enough to operate the center.
We try to bring back the BND [Bureau de Nutrition et de Developpmement] and WFP [World Food Program] but without success. We are now truly breathless. All St Vincent’s income is spent on the food program.
We spend $2.5 for three meals a day per child. Currently we are feeding 76 residential children and about 10 staff members. So per month we spend $6000.00 to feed the children.
At the time I wrote this report to you, there is no electricity at St Vincent. We don’t have enough money to pay the current debt. This end of the year is very difficult for me, and this is the first time since my ascent to the management of this Center I find myself in such a situation.
Despite these problems I keep hoping that one day, St Vincent will meet its needs and that there will be no debt to pay. And we could easily feed our children.
Once again I thank you for all your support and May God bless you during your lifetime.
December 11th Port-au-Prince, Haiti