Language is always a challenge when we work at St Vincents. Half of the 200 students are deaf, so all the team members try to learn a few signs like “What is your name?”, “My name is”, “sit down” and other simple phrases. Sherye is our sign language interpreter and has brought her student Sam(antha) who is a great help. The deaf are quite blunt in their questions, which becomes a source of hilarity when they want to know how old you are, and if you’re not married, why not?
Frenel is a student we have watched grow up over the years, from a small boy with a beautiful singing voice to a tall young man whose deep baritone surprises all of us. I remember teaching Frenel to play Go Fish when he was younger, with brailled playing cards. He would say “Go Finish” instead of “Go Fish”.
Ella is our youngest team member this trip and spent much of her day playing with children who were waiting to see the doctor. She told me about teaching a blind child to play patty-cake. After a few tries a deaf child came up behind the blind child and helped her put her hands in the right place.
The children remember us and want to know about past team members who arent with us this trip. “Where is Claire and the guitar?” Mayson wanted to know. “Where is Hilarie?” asked another child. Children who havent seen Edie in two years remember her and give her a big hug.
Jim was asking for a Kreyol interpreter today when suddenly I broke into Kreyol and translated everything he said. My “kreyol gene” kicked in, like a switch. That usually doesnt happen until the fourth day, so I was pleased. And surprised at how easily the words came. Its great to feel at home with what feels like my Haitian family.