Since 2005 our West Tennessee Haiti Partnership (WTHP) committee has worked in Haiti, first at St. Paul’s School in Montrouis . Since 2008 we have devoted our efforts to support St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. We take medical teams of doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists, foot surgeons, and physical therapists to operate clinics at the school. We raise money to buy medicines and vitamins for the children. Our funds also go to help buy food and clean water at various times, depending on the local situation in Haiti. We are an agency of the Diocese of West Tennessee, which is a 501(c) 3 organization.
St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children was established in 1945 by Sister Joan Margaret of the Community of St Margaret. It’s goal is to educate handicapped children, including blind, deaf, and physically challenged students. Since Sister Joan retired, the school has been owned and operated by the Diocese of Haiti. Most of the 200 students are day students. Resident children include true orphans as well as students whose families live far away from the capital city and so board their children at St Vincent’s. St Vincent’s is the only school in Haiti to provide education for blind children, and one of only 2 schools to educate deaf children.
Any monies we raise go directly to St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. Our organization is run completely by volunteers who donate their time, talents, and resources to fund service trips, medical supplies, and scholarships. Donated funds are used primarily to buy medical supplies and vitamins. In addition, we fund education scholarships for some of the older students to attend high school, or for some resident children whose families are unable to pay tuition. See Margaret Vincent Scholarship Fund HERE. Some of our grants have helped fund the refurbishment of St. Vincent’s water supply and school facilities, support teachers with school supplies, and provide emergency funding for staff salaries or other contingencies. Team members pay their own travel expenses. We have separate travel funds established for donors who wish to help volunteers with their airfare or lodging expenses in Haiti. See Drew Woodruff Travel Fund HERE.
Since November 2008, semi-annual medical service trips led by Dr. Susan Nelson and Rev. Drew Woodruff have delivered medical supplies and brought staff members who hold a clinic at St. Vincent’s for several days. The service team purchases medications from a local Haitian pharmacy, in efforts to support the local economy and obtain medications labelled in the local language, Haitian Kreyol. We also stay at a guest house owned and operated by Haitians. Dr. Bheki Khumalo works with a local orthopedic surgeon to perform corrective surgeries for children with foot and leg deformities. Since moving to the new school site in 2018, we have developed a partnership with nearby Klinik San Esprit to provide dental care for the children, and some of our donated funds are used to pay for this care. Since 2016 a team of optometrists from Southern College of Optometry has visited yearly to perform eye exams and provide eyeglasses for the children and staff of the school.