Friday, June 26, 2009

Things to know

In front of the Father Wasson Center

Here's my room, with my malaria preventing net

The view from one side of the building

FYI because people have been asking: NPH stands for Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (our little brothers and sisters) and was started in the 50s by Father Wasson in Mexico. There are homes in 9 countries: Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Peru, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. Haiti is the only non Spanish speaking country, and we are called Nos Petit Frères et Soeurs (NPFS). I know it’s a little confusing with all the names and cities. Summary:

Kenscoff: The program started with the orphanage called St. Helene which is high in the mountains in Kenscoff. There are about 450 children living there at the moment, and they receive education up to 9th grade before being able to earn scholarships for secondary school in the city. It is the site of Kay Christine, the special needs home Gena runs.

Petionville: This is where I live, in the old hospital which has been turned into administration and volunteer housing and is called the Father Wasson Center. It is also the site of Kay Elian, a rehab and physiotherapy center for special needs children. Petionville is about an hour down the mountains from the orphanage.

Tabarre: After several years, the new hospital called St. Damien was opened in Tabarre, an hour away in the opposite direction. It is the only free pediatric hospital in Haiti and has outpatient services, cancer and AIDS/HIV treatments, and focuses largely on malnutrition and tuberculosis. This year, the rehab and physiotherapy center called St. Germaine was opened across the street from the hospital, and also has a small school for children with a range of mental and physical handicaps. This is where I will be working with the small pool they have, as well as with the feeding of the children. Tabarre is about an hour from Petionville, so 2 hours from Kenscoff. The site is right next to the huge American Embassy.

So basically, I’m right in the middle, which is good because there is are centers for the special needs children at all 3 locations. It can be difficult to keep track of, because there are multiple programs in each city and within centers, and people refer to where they’re going or working by either city, specific program name or the larger program.

As far as the other people, here’s that:

Robin: The volunteer coordinator, American from Chicago, early 30’s lives the floor about me and does her work from Petionville. She’s been here for about a year and is staying indefinitely.

Alfonso: The family services person, a Mexican in his late 40’s who travels often to other NPH homes. He lives in Petionville, too. He’s been here for 20 years, and has no plans to leave as far as I know.

Norma: A physical therapist in her 40’s from Argentina who lives on the same floor as me in Petionville and works at all 3 locations with the special needs children. She’s been here for about 4 months, and isn’t sure when she’ll leave.

Gena: The special needs children coordinator who came to Haiti from Ireland 16 years ago when she was in her early 20’s and never left. She works everywhere, but usually stays at Kenscoff.

Maive: Also from Ireland, Maive works with the children in Kenscoff. She is in her early 60’s and retired, and is a year and a half into her 2 years.

Liz: Also from Ireland and is here to teach art for the summer. She’s in her late 20’s/early 30’s and stays at Kenscoff.

Father Rick Frechette: The American priest who started this entire operation in 1988, who is also a medical doctor. He is everywhere all the time, and has recently been travelling all over outside of Haiti to raise money for the rising costs of NPFS. He lives at the hospital in Tabarre.

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