How on earth to think about the stark contrast between difficult, maybe impossible, stressors in Haiti, versus the fact that good things continue to happen in the learning community of FSRL?

The reason I posted the photo essay (just before this) by the UN Humanitarian Council is to try to reconcile the contrasting messages that we are receiving and observing: the same messages we are passing on to you.

The photo essay has beautiful pictures of people out in the countryside (the mountains) in the southern peninsula. Don’t be afraid to open it: no atrocities are pictured in it. But the process described is one important thread in the slow suffocation or strangulation of daily life in Haiti right now. Even away from the capital city, Port au Prince, where intensely violent actions are happening every day, the normal activities of life in the the rest of the country are slowing daily, to a crawl AT BEST or a halt at worst. The latest news, in the last two days, is that gasoline is not available to buy even if you have the money to pay five times the normal rate per gallon. That makes people stop traveling altogether, and soon will mean the electricity winking off everywhere: most electricity is supplied by gas-powered generators. And that means an end, little by little, to internet, then to phone contact. I can’t bear it.

Our electricity on the campus is partially supplied by solar panels, so some communication will continue. In the meanwhile, I met today with the staff and professors (six people) who are supporting the students out on their internships (their “stah-j” or stages: a nice word to know!). The number of sites welcoming our students continues to rise. The number of OTs and PTs with appropriate training to support them, that is, our new graduates, is going up. Thanks to our colleagues at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, there are increasing links and learning activities among the clinical sites. This is because a grant from the AUF (Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie) is in the process of implementation. The grant supports the varied activities required to establish a “Community of Practice”: a network of rehab professionals who are in regular contact to share clinical information and improve the provision of care. It is beginning to be part of the expectations of the clinics that they will assemble by TEAMS (at a distance) every two weeks.

But is that Community of Practice at risk due to increasing scarcity of electricity?

One of our newest connections where we hope to have internships is St. Boniface Hospital, supported by Health Equity International. The hospital is in a remote part of the southern peninsula, in Fond de Blancs. But in a dreadful development, the director of the hospital, Dr. I. Pierre, has been kidnapped on a trip to Port au Prince, and the hospital has closed in protest. We are praying (not just wishing for the best !) for his immediate release, unharmed.

All of this reminds me the first line of The Tale of Two Cities, set in France at the time of the French Revolution: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. Just like now in Haiti.

Sending thanks for generosity to the FB birthday fundraiser!

This message has just been posted on Facebook, following the generous giving that Haiti Rehab foundation received, for my June 10 2022 birthday fundraiser. It’s here because it gives a bit of an update!

Date: FRIDAY JUNE 17, 2021

“Thank you ALL for DOUBLING the facebook birthday fundraiser! I am amazed at this fruitfulness, just like SPRING and all of a sudden we are surrounded by birdsong and green leaves, from out of nowhere!

Thank you, generous souls, for this gift.

It is so much needed. With this money FSRL can pay the internet bill, paying for one of the best options available in Haiti, so that our volunteer US and Canadian and Brazilian and Chilean professors can connect with these bright and talented students. That is our one luxury, top-of-the-line internet!

This money will pay salaries for administrators, and therapists our graduates) in the student-run rehab clinic, and per course salaries for local professors with master’s degrees who teach the first-year courses in liberal arts and basic sciences. FSRL salaries are VERY modest: but they are steady, Thanks be to God, and in unpredictable times that helps our staff keep food on the table and gas in the car.

This money helps pay the rent on the glorified house that we call a campus, a nice place that used to be the headquarters for the Red Cross in Leogane, a place that is busting at the seams with our 75 students taking classes and holding movement labs there. And this money demonstrates our connections: in Haiti and in the US, across the water, across the miles and across the disastrous troubles, we are holding hands, holding strong, not letting go. The storms of ALL kinds will pass, and our graduates will be there, with their own outreach to people in Haiti who live in conditions of disability. The lame will walk and leap! The mentally ill will come back into their communities.

Thank you all for this wonderful outpouring of help.

(And IF you wanted to join this human chain, and missed the time limit, you can go to

https://www.haitirehab.org/ to make a contribution there! )

Thank you for this marvelous birthday GIFT!”

Janet O’Flynn, dean-at-a-distance

WHAT IS HAPPENING AT FSRL ? TIME FOR AN UPDATE!

It has been many many months since we sent out messages by this blog. But it is probably true in this case that “no news, is good news”, meaning what? Meaning that school is in session, students are learning, internships are happening, and the O’Flynns are working and teaching from home in Montana. We are grateful.

DAILY LIFE IN HAITI

Life for some Haitian citizens has been fairly normal, while for others it has been like living in a war zone, depending where they live. Our campus has been safe MOST of the time. And all our students and staff are OK, thanks be to God. And our students have been out on internships, under the supervision of our graduates ~ for instance Merly Dorestan, PT from our first graduating class, at Hopital de la Convention Baptiste in the north!

Merly Dorestan, PT, with PT students Jemmy Simeon and Wody Cenatus

STUDENTS NEARING GRADUATION: Four students are in Quebec doing research internships with the U. de Sherbrooke. Here is Wood Guerlin Tellus with Professeure Carmen Moliner. These four will return to Haiti, God willing, at the end of this month (June).

Wood Guerlin Tellus, OT students, and Mme Carmen Moliner, Zooming with FSRL from Quebec.

We have had three thesis defenses (soutenances for the Memoires) for three of the ten students due to graduate in December from the Promotion Autumn Marshall: that is, the class of 2021.

Senior PT student Samantha Steve and PT professor Dr Helene Corriveau, U de Sherbrooke, at Samantha’s thesis defense in Quebec.

The next seven will happen in July, God willing. Then seven more will have THEIR soutenances in September or early October, with the same graduation date, probably December 11, 2022.

Sometimes my head is spinning, with all the threats and obstacles that our staff and students face every day. But even more often my heart is glad. We are there! We live!

God’s peace to you all.

Second year students, Promotion Renee Brown, upon receiving their first professional uniform, Prise d’Habit
CPR class, freshman year
FSRL students and our graduate Ramona Adrien, and Staff member Mr Djeph Pericles,
at Respiré, for the International Day of the Handicapped Person, December 3 2021

SO, WHAT IS HAPPENING AT FSRL?

In the middle of troubles, our students and staff are leaning in, stepping up, stepping out of their house like like a shepherd!

Illustration and poem from ILAIDA.TUMBLR.COM, posted by Contemplative Monk, facebook

Merry Christmas from the Faculty of  The Sciences of the  Rehabilitation of Léogâne, FSRL,

of the Episcopal University of Haiti, UNEPH.

Blessings for everything you do for FSRL. We are grateful! Your work has brought a smile back to those who have regained hope to return to their life path after suffering from debilitating illnesses. You have given a rewarding career to young people who did not have a clear idea of their future. You are making a change in the country of Haiti!

As the songs of the angels are heard in heaven, let us rejoice in the birth of our Savior, our friend, our brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. May the deep peace of God, who has made us and keeps us in his love, fill your hearts and minds in this Christmas season.

Father Donnel and Dean Janet O’Flynn

Joyeux Noël de la Faculté des Sciences de la Réhabilitation de Léogâne, FSRL,

de l’Université Episcopale d’Haïti, UNEPH.

Bénédictions pour tout ce que vous faites pour FSRL. Nous vous sommes reconnaissants ! Votre travail a redonné le sourire à ceux qui ont retrouvé l’espoir de reprendre leur chemin de vie après avoir souffert de maladies invalidantes. Vous avez donné une carrière valorisante à des jeunes qui n’avaient pas une idée précise de leur avenir. Vous faites du changement dans le pays d’Haïti !

Alors que les chants des anges se font entendre dans les cieux, réjouissons-nous de la naissance de notre Sauveur, notre ami, notre frère, le Seigneur Jésus-Christ. Que la paix profonde de Dieu, qui nous a faits et nous garde dans son amour, remplisse vos cœurs et vos esprits en ce temps de Noël.

Père Donnel et Dean Janet O’Flynn

Giving Tuesday: November 30, 2021

HOW ON EARTH TO DECIDE WHERE TO GIVE? Here are THREE GREAT PLACES!

Giving Tuesday: IT IS a moment in US society in which

we have all given thanks on Thursday ( Thanksgiving Day),

bought all kinds of Christmas presents at big-box stores on Friday (Black Friday, when big companies finally can use black ink in their ledger books, indicating actual income instead of the red ink of debt);

bought a ton of things online on Monday (Cyber Monday); and finally

we can make charitable gifts on Tuesday (Giving Tuesday). It turns out that Americans are really generous!

How do you decide where to give? and how much to give? What do you hope will happen with the money

that you give?

I would like to suggest THREE different places to give: and three different but related hopes.

  1. CAHSAV: GoFundMe: buying an oven to make cakes and macaroni au gratin!

https://gofund.me/b62d0480

Judith, founding member of CAHSAV, at cooking school. Judith will be the head chef for the new restaurant that CAHSAV is opening on the campus of St. Vincent’s Center for Children with Disabilities.

Judith grew up at St. Vincent’s Center for Children with Disabilities. Now, with her adult peers with disabilities who have formed themselves into a non-profit that offers employment and that WILL offer independent living. St. Vincent’s has top-of-stove cooking, but no oven. Cakes? How will they make the cakes for the restaurant? WE CAN BUY A STOVE WITH AN OVEN, AND HAVE IT INSTALLED, FOR $508!

This is a GREAT giving project to contribute to if you like to see exactly what you have given to. In practical terms, this is as direct as it gets! We have raised $95 out of $ 508. This goal will be met soon, and a wonderful result will happen for these entrepreneurs. GoFundMe is a basic site that helps smaller projects get launched: when neighbors help neighbors. Judith and the CAHSAV members will be VERY grateful!

2. Friends of St. Vincent’s: Global Giving:

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-haitians-with-disabilities-now/ This is a more ambitious fundraiser: The same adults, members of CAHSAV, have big dreams of studying after middle school to be able to contribute their skills to the business life of their peer group, the fourteen adults who grew up at St. Vincent’s. These young adult graduates with blindness are completing studies at a typical private school, using a smartphone to take photos of the whiteboard and bringing back the photos to their tutor on the St. Vincent’s campus, who reads it aloud so that they can enter the information onto a brailler for their studies. These five students will earn a high school diploma and will be able to go on to, for instance, cooking school or music school, or teacher training. This is a big project, and we have JUST started: Friends of St. Vincent’s has raised $225  of $11,050 goal . Global Giving is a curated site. In order to be allowed to raise funds on this site the nonprofit (Friends of St. Vincent’s) needs to show that their non-profit has a legitimate and time-proven project with responsible follow-through. Friends of St. Vincent’s operates in very close partnership with CAHSAV: you are seeing the chosen priorities that the adults have chosen themselves. A great project to contribute to if you know the multiple obstacles for young adults with blindness in Haiti, and you want to be part of a dedicated team that will stay with this group for the long haul, until they reach their academic goals.

Rosanna, a young woman with severe low vision, deciphering a watch.

3.  Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation:  www.haitirehab.org

I know that if you have been following these blogposts then you know that this is a GREAT place to support!  I am suggesting that support be given directly through the website [ http://www.haitirehab.org] or as a check to Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation:

mailed to

Treasurer: HRF

P.O.Box 183

Hamilton, NY 13346.

HRF started in Hamilton New York as a very small organization in 2016.  The one mission of HRF then and now was to support rehabilitation education in Haiti.  The way that HRF has done that is to start an academic department at the Episcopal University of Haiti (UNEPH) that gives Occupational and Physical Therapy degrees.    Why does that matter?  Because there are between 1.1 and 1.8 million people in Haiti whose lives are limited by disabling conditions who need to be restored to their lives.   Because young people with high intelligence and a depth of compassion have limited options of careers and are welcoming and embracing this professional track.  Because when they graduate they find meaningful and respected work.  It has been a win-win-win since the small beginnings. 

This is a great place to give if synergy, hope, and meaning are what your heart is looking for!

WELCOME TO THE CLASS OF 2025!


Monday November 8th : Due to the waves of news about negative and sad events happening in Haiti, we were hesitant to recruit and schedule our volunteer faculty members, hire more translators, order uniform patches, and do all the other preparations, but, here we are! All is in order for opening day for twenty new first-year students, whom I have not even met yet ! It is Sunday night, November 7. The new academic year, 2021 to 2022, begins tomorrow morning with a mass celebrated by our chaplain Père Yves Semé, followed by Mots de Circonstance: speeches of welcome. We are very glad that they are here, at the BEGINNING OF OUR SEVENTH YEAR!


A sentimental look back, before we jump forward: starting with our newer students and moving back in time to our first graduating classes.

first day of school in Jan. 2020 for
Promotion Renee Brown, class of 2024

some of the members of Promotion Zara Harris, class of 2023, modeling clinical uniforms

students of the Promotion Julie Booth, class of 2022, with the adaptive equipement they built. These are the senior students now, congratulations you all!

This is the class of 2021: back when they were sophomore students: this is the Promotion Autumn Marshall: five OT students and five PT students. They are out on clinicals, and writing their research projects, and getting ready to defend them. Graduation is planned for the first week of March: five OT students and five PT students! Good work you all: let’s hope we can catch one or two to work at FSRL, as they are in demand already by clinics and programs in other parts of the country.

Our graduates in December 2020: Promotion Gerald Oriol Jr: five fine physios, now working in Haiti, including at FSRL

Our December 2019 graduates, three OTs and seven PTs, now working in Haiti including at FSRL.


We need space! The creative and capable carpenters of FSRL have built a new classroom, between the admin. offices and the porch, just in time for the new students. Bravo! And Welcome!


Welcome, class of 2025!

Happy birthday, FSRL! Six years already!

The students are celebrating in a grand way!

Everything is ready!

Decorations, a mass at Église Ste Croix, a big feast on campus with three cakes, speeches, dancing and other talents, poems, a futbol match in the big open stadium against another local team, and in the evening a documentary film, Madan Sara, a positive presentation of the remarkable women who make the markets run! The graduates who are far away are on by zoom, and I am too. So much gratitude.

Happy birthday, FSRL!

Haitians helping haitians

Due to the active and dedicated presence of our clinical partners in Port a Piment, Carrefours (near Port au Prince), and Cayes, our students and graduates have been able to connect their volunteer service with real and immediate needs. We grow in appreciation every day of the year-around work of these clinic and hospital staff rehabilitation teams, Haitians helping Haitians.

FSRL is committed to building local capacity to meet local needs. And we are not alone, not at all! The outpouring of generosity from our US partners is so much appreciated, as is the dedication of the clinics with whom we partner. Thank you all, a thousand and a million thanks!

Hope, again, in the students’ mission to the cold wet windy dark southern peninsula

Greetings from my laptop in Montana USA, one of the communications centers of the work of FSRL! I feel like I have been taking in and sending out messages at the rate of a fire hose since the earthquake hit on Saturday morning, 14 August, at 8:29 am. And I am only one spot in the network of concern, worry, love, compassion, generosity, pain, and thanks.

Here’s a little window into how it’s going, for FSRL students in Haiti. Right now!

Our building in Léogâne is intact, thankfully. We are located between Port au Prince and Cayes, the city that was hit so hard. But the aftershocks were strong all day Saturday and all night, so people in our school and street were sleeping outside on a blankets. Or, they did not sleep at all.

On Saturday we received messages from three clinical sites asking if our students could come to help with the overwhelming number of medical cases, from mild to severe and super severe.

We have FSRL graduates working at all three of those sites:

three PTs at the Adventist Hospital: Roosvelt Pierre Louis, Bergedia Gilles, and Amendocial Dorcé;

another PT, Nirva Elisma, at FONTEN in Cayes, and

Micza Louis, PT, at Centre de Rehabilitation in Port à Piment.

The students said yes. They said yes even knowing that a tropical storm was on the way, and that the wrecked infrastructure would not be able to protect them from the rain and wind.

On Sunday Emerson Barthelemy, PT, graduate of FSRL, drove the FSRL car with some of the PT students to the Adventist Hospital in Carrefours, nearly to Port au Prince. Ambulances and small planes had been bringing in severely injured patients for the orthopedic surgeon there. Dr Nelson did ten surgeries in a row on Saturday, and they wanted our students to come to do early mobilization (for example: sit up, stand up, walk with support) and patient and family education. They did go, and will probably go back tomorrow again.

Patients in the hallway following 15 Aug. 2021 earthquake in the South. (image from Adventist Hospital web page.)

On Monday two senior students, Wood Tellus (OT) and Peter Son Badette (PT) led two teams of ten students on a rented bus to the south. They were wearing clothes that they could walk through the mud in, and practical sneakers. Their team leaders had reminded them, “This is not a touristique vacation. Dress practically.”

There was a flat tire along the way, but spirits stayed high. Wood’s group unloaded supplies where they were to stay, in the courtyard of Brenda Stafford Hospital, near to FONTEN clinic. Peter Son’s group went on farther to Port à Piment, and unloaded in a covered outdoor space, near to Centre de Rehabilitation.

Fixing flat tire

Then the rain and wind started. As evening fell in Cayes, the tents filled with water and it was clear the students couldn’t lie down in the pool of water to sleep! The hospital corridors were full, standing room only. “We knew it would be hard, so we will make it through this night, and find something better in the morning”, they said. They stood close together in the dark, in the rain, next to a wall that gave a little protection from the wind. As my husband and I settled down into a warm dry bed, we were still texting people who were sleeping outdoors in a hurricane. It was hard to understand these two realities. We read messages of support and encouragement sent back and forth between the groups in Cayes and in Port a Piment.

Monday night: Dark, raining, standing or sitting to sleep outdoors next to the hospital, no tent.
rainy morning in Cayes
on the way to FONTEN

Then this morning as the rain lessened the wet students went to their work.

Today they organized basic supplies for the people of the neighborhood who have lost their homes to the earthquake: food, water, dry clothes. They donated their hygiene kits (masks, gloves, sanitizer) to the nurses at the hospital who have run out. And they planned for more work tomorrow, probably to include patient care.

opening boxes of supplies
distribution of supplies

Many kind friends of FSRL have asked us how and where to contribute funds.

These sites are recommended by FSRL, Faculté de Sciences de Réhabililtation de Léogâne, of UNEPH, Université Épiscopale d’Haiti, as worthy places to send support for the relief of Haitian citizens in the south west of Haiti, where the earthquake has caused so much damage, injury, and loss of life. 

[FSRL-UNEPH is the first academic program for Occupational Therapists in Haiti, and only the second program for Physical Therapists: in a country with an estimated 1.8 million people living with disabilities.]

  • Clinic Fondation Tous Ensemble, also called FONTEN

This Clinic in the downtown of Cayes on the southern coast of Haiti was started by an international NGO which, after a certain time, with planning, withdrew their financial support.  One of their  staff members, Consuelo Alzamora, a Chilean-born OT,  decided to keep the clinic open.  She reopened under the new name, FONTEN (which stands for Fondation Tous Ensemble, that is, Foundation “All of us Together”).  Consuelo has re-built the base of support for this clinic, in large part with donations from her home country of Chile.  She is now married, her husband is Haitian (Jempsen Bien Aimé) and they have a little boy called Jemlito (little Jempsen!).  She was the second president, after Autumn Marshall, of the newly formed OT association in Haiti. She has taken more than her share of our FSRL students for clinicals, forming the first generation of OTs and PTs in the country.  She hired one of our graduates, a PT named Nirva Elisma, who is now supervising the rehab technicians in the clinic.  She has just finished teaching a course, Community Interventions in OT, to our fourth year OT students.  Now she finds that her clinic is right in the downtown area where the earth quake has hit so hard.  Buildings are broken, people are under the rubble, the water main broke which flooded

the town, water for bathing and washing clothes is not available, and drinking water is only available for purchase.  She is taking a leadership role in her neighborhood, organizing the residents to make distribution of drinking water and food available. Consuelo has asked to have our FSRL students come to Cayes to help with medical and rehab screenings and care, as well as humanitarian aid.  Ten of our students are on their way there, planning to sleep in the courtyard of a small hospital there and planning to help Consuelo help the townspeople of Cayes.  Any contributions will go directly to relief of thirst and hunger, shelter, and also care of injured patients in the damaged town of Cayes.

https://www.globalgiving.org/donate/47821/fondation-tous-ensemble/

  • Our own organization, Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation, HRF:

https://www.facebook.com/HaitiOTPTdegrees/

We are always happy to accept gifts too~ honestly, though, our campus has not been damaged and we have water, so it is not an emergency.

It would help us a lot to have  money to send with our students as they go to camp out and help in Cayes, in Port a Piment, and in the Adventist Hospital.  They will be away from home for at least one week, sleeping outdoors in a hospital compound.  They will need to pay for  food and water and transportation.

We also have a small rehab clinic at Ste Croix Hospital in Leogane.  The name of our clinic is

CUTA, Centre Universitaire Tèt Ansanm.   The director of the hospital has (admirably) offered free medical treatment for anyone coming up from the southwest after this earthquake.  We will need to do the same, and we will also need to keep on paying salaries and buying supplies, including mobility aids (crutches and wheelchairs) to distribute.  So that is another reason that funds will be helpful.

Haiti Rehabilitation Foundation donations:

There is a donate button on the website, www.haitirehab.org,

There is also a way to donate on the facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/HaitiOTPTdegrees

I can assure you that this money will go straight to where it is most needed: no fluff!

Thank you SO MUCH for your generosity!

God’s peace, the kind that passes understanding,

Janet O’Flynn

dean@haitirehab.org

315-708-5820