Margaret was a frail infant, when she was left in St Vincent’s courtyard in December 2009. She had obvious physical handicaps, but was dressed lovingly in a yellow lacy dress and soft blanket. Her mom realized she could no longer care for her at home. This is often the fate of handicapped children in Haiti, whose parents know if they can just get their child to St Vincent’s, they will be taken care of.
A medical team from WTHP was present at the school at the time Margaret appeared. Like other orphans at the school, her name was chosen by the staff. Margaret, after Sister Joan Margaret, who founded St Vincent’s in 1945. Vincent, after the school’s patron saint. She was baptized Margaret Vincent in a dual French-English ceremony with Deacon Drew Woodruff, Priest Ollie Rencher, and Pere Sadoni, the priest in charge at St Vincent’s.
Margaret grew and thrived under the care of the St Vincent’s staff, as much as her handicaps would allow. She was petted and loved by the other children, and would respond to singing with smiles and a soft laugh. Each visiting medical team did their best to monitor her health, and she was a favorite among the long term residents of the school. Sadly, she developed pneumonia in 2019, common in children who have limited physical mobility. Her entire life was a miracle, a living witness to the loving care she received at St Vincent’s. John Mutin, a long time volunteer with WTHP, wrote for her obituary: “Do not be sad for her passing as Margaret was a living testament of what makes St Vincent’s such a special place. Her care was equal to or better than any hospital or long term care facility could provide her.” On his last visit before her passing, John noted that once again, despite her being completely confined to her crib, unable to sit up or do anything for herself, Margaret was without bedsores, clean and cheerful when anyone would talk to her. Margaret was loved by the dedicated group of caregivers who showered her frail body with tender care every day of her 10 years at St. Vincent’s. John recognized that the staff took up the challenge of caring for her and loved her despite their being overworked with other handicapped children. She was one child that the more you got to know her the more you realized she was a miracle child.
The West TN Haiti Partnership has created a scholarship in her honor. The Margaret Vincent Scholarship will help to support a child or two each year whose family can not afford to pay for transportation and tuition to the school and for boarding. We have selected two young men in 2019 to receive the first scholarships. Frenel and Jean Mark were previously sponsored by a church in their local community. Regrettably that support is no longer available. Recognizing their progress at St. Vincent’s, we desire to assume the support for these young men to continue their education. Both are blind and there is no other school in Haiti who can offer them the chance to learn. Tuition room and board for each student is $1200 per year.
We are asking you to continue with your prayers for the good work of God at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children and to consider a donation to the Margaret Vincent fund of WTHP. Your donation of any amount will be important in honoring a special child whose short life influenced so many people and provide us an opportunity to assist other special children.