An Important Milestone for Our Freshmen, and an Honored Guest

Yesterday FSRL came to another milestone.  All the freshmen in the nursing school and the rehab school were honored for successful completion of the first year of general studies.  The end of the first year also marks the beginning of the program of rehab for our seven students of OT and PT.  It is called the “Prise d’habit”: taking of the uniform for the first time.  The phrase reminds me a of a similar ceremony for a nun: “taking the habit”.  For the nurses, it is an old tradition called “Prise de coiffe”, or taking the cap

I am thrilled to say that at that event we had the honor of the presence of the Secretary of State for the Integration of Handicapped Persons(SEIPH):  Mr. Gerald Oriol Jr. Each class has the happy task of choosing someone to invite to have the honor of being the patron of the class.  The word is not “patron”, though – it is “godfather” (“parrain”) or “godmother” (marraine)!   M. Gerald Oriol Jr. is the parrain of the freshman class – the class of 2020.

He accepted very graciously back before Christmas, and he came in person to participate in this significant event for the freshmen.

There is something very compelling and attractive about M. Oriol’s presence as a leader and advocate for integration of persons with handicaps.  He has a calm, non-anxious, demeanor.  He has world-class eye contact:  you get the feeling of being seen by an intelligent and thoughtful person, without being judged. He has a deep voice and speaks clearly, giving challenge and encouragement at the same time.

He comes to events in a wheelchair.  His presence gives two very different messages.  One is that that he must be a disabled person- the chair!  The other is that he is a highly-abled person, the Secretary of State!  His presence gives a challenge to knee-jerk reactions: people stop what they are doing and they listen with real interest.

Prise d'habit 6 Mai 2017 IMG_3915

First-year students all in green; second-year students in white and green; M. Gerald Oriol Jr, Secretary of STate!, and Dean O’Flynn – PRISE D’HABIT, 6 May, 2017

A funny story about my casual (sloppy?) American clothes, and the efforts to upgrade my level of elegance, for this important event.

 

It has been a long time since I wrote about the small steps I am able to take toward integrating myself into local culture!  To me it seems that FSIL and FSRL are micro-cultures:  here, people are very accepting of the Americans in their midst – not too much cultural flexibility is required most of the time.

But sometimes…..

I have toned up my wardrobe considerably for my work life here.  As a pediatric OT in the school system in the US, I got away with wearing garments that were the next step up from pajamas and bedroom slippers.  It made sense to wear comfortable stretchy washable clothes, for a normal work day that might include climbing a ladder to put up a swing, sitting with the most messy eater in the cafeteria to help that person begin to control the food supply, and painting.   But…

Here my first discovery, a year and a half ago,  was that I needed closed-toe shoes with at least a little bit of a high heel.

WHAT?

I got over that and adjusted.

My next discovery was that I needed skirts and blouses, ironed.

WHAT?

I got over that and adjusted.

My next discovery was an interesting one from an Occupational Therapy point of view.  I have scoliosis, and after a few months of the skirt and blouse routine I gave up on it, and took to dresses. My hips are all askew, and I always dragged one side of the skirt lower than the other. A few photographs later, I decided that wasn’t doing our program any good – the dean, trailing along with drooping garments.  But…. my shoulders are even-sided, and dresses work!

I bought a set of remarkably practical dresses:  all the same, but in different fabric, and with POCKETS!   I had some for everyday, and a couple for formal occasions.  They also remarkably didn’t need ironing!! Because they are made of some kind or other of plastic, I believe…..

I got over the upgrade, and adjusted.

BUT….

At FSRL and FSIL the young faculty members are very fashionable.

I hope that as you read this story your sympathies will be MORE AND MORE with the young women here on the faculty at FSRL. They have a challenge, in ME.

During the lead-up (planning) for this Prise d’habit ceremony, as we discussed practical details, one of them cleared her throat and said, “Now, for what you will wear.”

WHAT?

“You must wear something very pretty.”

“Oh”, I said, “Don’t worry.  I have a gray dress” (meaning, comfortable! No-iron! Pockets!)

“No, you must have the jacket.  I will buy it for you.”

WHAT??

“Um, I’m afraid it will be too HOT.”

“No, we will be in the air conditioning.  What size do you wear?  I think it’s better if you have a new dress with the jacket that will be the same fabric.  I will find one for you.  And, do you have Make-Up?”

WHAT????

I confess I burst out laughing about that last question.  But when I got over myself and calmed down, she was still there, looking quite determined, saying

“ I know how to do make-up.  And the shoes must match.  What size do you wear?”

WELL, I knew I was pretty well defeated, and the most I could hope for was to push back on some of the smaller requirements, while capitulating on the main idea:  Dean O’Flynn was going to look like a credit to FSRL, no matter what.

I would not know where to go here for a formal type of outfit, at all, but our young woman took the time on Friday to go to that area of Léogâne and take photos of likely ensembles for me.  Unfortunately, I was hosting a small group of visiting faculty on a field trip to the national museum of history, in Port-au-Prince.  Three times during the tour my phone rang. I was expecting to have one call from the driver (who was off doing errands) to give us our pick-up instructions, so I kept answering the phone.  It was never the driver.

Another fashionable young staff member of FSIL had joined the first one.

First, did I get the photos?  No.  [Cell phone reception was not very good.]

In the absence of photos they started describing choices.

They wanted to know if I would prefer pink with cream  – or did they say “green”? If it was going to be cream, there must also be shoes to match – what was my size of shoe?  American or European size?

“Stockings?”      (WHAT???????  TOO HOT!!!!!!!!)

Finally I said the phone calls were annoying the tour guide and they had to stop calling.  That I would wear whatever they brought.

So, late Friday, I got a text that I should go to the Admin office to find my garment on the desk.  It was a white dress and matching jacket, with a textured fabric, shiny buttons, not too bad.  But it was way too tight.  I was afraid I’d pop the seams.

Another call: “Do you like it?” ‘Yes”.

“Does it fit?” “No, unfortunately.  I really appreciate your time, but I will just wear what I had planned.”

“No, I have already arranged a way to exchange it with the shop.  I will come at 7 am to pick it up and go to exchange it.”

Now, the ceremony was at 9 am the next morning, and the Secretary of State (did I MENTION the Secretary of State?) was coming.

 

Meanwhile, as the clock ticked past 8:30 on Saturday morning,  and all around me the elegant persons gathered, I was there in my Capris and T shirt, wondering how close we could push it.

Well, at 20 of 9, the young woman arrived with a remarkable garment.  Silvery gray, three sizes too big, a slippery blouse AND SKIRT (did I mention that skirts aren’t a good idea), with a beautifully ornate jacket – lots of ruching, double collar, shiny silver.  I dashed into the bathroom to put it on.

The skirt fell off.  Onto the floor.

“Is it going OK?” from outside the bathroom door.

“It is too big and it is falling off.”

“Oh my ****” I heard from the other side of the door,   “I am so sorry!”

“It’s OK, I can PIN it.”  So I held it up while racing back to the dorm (only 100 feet away) to get pins.

I stepped into the procession AFTER the choir, instead of before, but walking in with our seven honored freshmen, just in time.

I hope that now when you look at the photo you will really enjoy this garment.  It is indeed VERY Fancy!

I had occasion to reflect about what sort of appearance I was making, after the ceremony, posing for photographs.   I think it was a little bit like Mr. Wizard, a character I remember from an elementary school science movie – white and shiny, slightly unreal.  Also, HOT.

Then I reflected that, if I were in a culture that had any local, native wear, such as a sari, or a djellaba, or a kimono, I would wake up to the possibilities!  I would be honored to be invited to put it on!  And that was exactly what this was.

I DO definitely feel honored, to be fussed over so, and to be dressed so elaborately!

 

Prise d'habit 6 Mai 2017 IMG_3915

First-year students all in green; second-year students in white and green; M. Gerald Oriol Jr, Secretary of STate!, and Dean O’Flynn – PRISE D’HABIT, 6 May, 2017

FSRL as a translation factory!! Wau and Wow!

So long since I’ve written!  So many directions to go in for this update.

First, thank you to those who have been reading.   I have had some good reflections on this document of adventures, via my email.  I have a new email address now, as the St. Catherine emails address (joflynn@stkate.edu) will be phased out in May.  The new address is dean@haititrehab.org.

I don’t know if “why I haven’t been writing” is a legit (or appealing) subject for a blogpost, but anyway here is a window into why.  I think that here at FSRL we are overwhelmed with success!  Last year I could post every two weeks at least, and in a similar vein I was going to the beach every few weeks, and taking walks, and never missing meals…that was when our first-year students were in the nursing courses, with our responsibility for teaching limited to one course per term – Intro to the Rehab Professions.  This year we have a full program of courses to support for the sophomore students, and we still have the first-year light load as well.  The sophomore courses are taught as intensives: two weeks from 8 until 3 or 4 every day for a three-credit course, and four weeks for a six-credit course.  These are heavy courses, with daily content of up to 200 Power point slides (well, that is ONE proxy for measuring how much material the students need to absorb!).  Anatomy II (musculo skeletal), neuroanatomy, kinesiology, Physiology of Human Performance, etc.

We have dedicated (meaning committed-to-the-cause) faculty in the US writing the syllabi and lectures.  We have devoted (meaning bending-over-backward to make it happen) instructors, some here in Haiti (Thanks Rhonda, Ashley, and Rachel!) and many from the US (thank you all!) who come to campus and teach.

The most time-consuming factor that keeps me from posting to the blog, from the beach, from walks, and sometimes from sleep is the TRANSLATION!  Every document that comes in English (99% of our documents) needs to be translated and printed for the students to use in class.  We (our trilingual admin asst, Miselene Lafleur and I) produce every day at least a 45-page document, in French, and print the durn thing (working patiently with a touchy printer and intermittent electric current): five copies.  Basically, we are making the textbooks as we go.  I have started providing three ring binders to the students, and the one-inch thick ones won’t do it for a full course anymore.  Printing front and back.

Then we have daily quizzes to publish, and final exams.

I think FSRL is in the publishing business.

The process takes a long time, every day and on weekends too,  even with the excellent (and kind of incredible) help of Google Translate.  We always drop the English text into Google Translate first, but then we still have to review the documents word by word, and correct them.  The most common corrections are word order (modifier and nouns end up badly rearranged) and mis -translations of abstract terms.  (For instance, in a lecture on cardiac stroke volume, the translation always used the word for “stroke” meaning brain damage due to blockage or bleed from an artery).  (But sometimes the G. T. program does other strange stuff as well.  I think the medical content is actually slightly MORE accurate than general content:  maybe a lot of medical students have used it!)  By the way, I think it is helping my spoken French improve, to everyone’s relief.

Another casualty of this push to translate is that once each course is done, it is too tempting to jump into the next course’s content to try to get even a day ahead on translating.  HOWEVER, that means that now I have several completed courses that have not been completely graded, nor have the results been submitted to the registrar.  That can’t go on for too long!

 

So that might mean that next year it will go easier because the translations of content will be done. – But, wait!  We will have another whole set of new classes, for our third year (junior) students!  Yikes!

 

I am feeling a little freed up today, to post, because we have two days of translation done in advance, and I am in the plane on the way to the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) conference.  Our OT academic committee will present a short course (one hour only) on Friday about the international inter-university collaborations that are making FSRL possible.  Here are our presenters; Diana Honorat, me, Kate Barrett, Jami Flick, Patty Coker-Bolt.  We’ll have an occasion for all FSRL OT faculty to meet up while at conference, for which I’m grateful!  One of the real pleasures and motivators for faculty at a university is the opportunity to interact with remarkable colleagues.  In the case of FSRL, the faculty come in sequence so most have not met each other.  This will be fun.

 

I may be able to take advantage of this little lull to post some other things that will be, I promise, REALLY interesting!  Stay tuned!

 

Bon Bagay – good stuff! Good stuff coming along, piling up, running over…

Oh, my.  So much happening, and all good, but it is hard to keep up!  I have found a few photos that show how much!  Stacks of supplies, gatherings of people.

img_3637

Mary Jo Wagner and Merry Kaulbach, with a STACK of wheelchair cushions!

We had a well-received continuing education workshop last week, offered by two friends of Sammie Wakefield and Tamara Kittelson-Aldred of Eleanore’s Project, Peru!  It was on Wheelchair Assessment and 24 hour Postural Care.  Our five PT students attended (all the sophomores) as well as representatives of three clinics, and also five students from a French Canadian university, the U. de Sherbrooke, AND their two supervisors!  Most participants stayed over in the Guest House, where there was also an evening sewing session to learn how to make postural support cushions.

img_3563

Rehab technicians, students, and Merry Kaulbach, in the middle of sewing!

Then, here’s another picture of a LOT of something in one place:

img_3645

Huge baskets of veggies on the floor in the kitchen

I don’t know if you can tell how huge these baskets are.  For one thing, the carrots are huge!  Hmm. Maybe I have another picture too.  This is what you need to buy for 140 students AND their hungry professors!  The FSIL cooks are wonderful.  (We only have 13 of those students – still a small group.)

 

img_3644

More groceries!

This is a good view too.  Lookit the plantains!   The box in the bottom right has, I am pretty sure, sugar cane for a dessert treat.

img_3537

Bounteous gifts in the OT/PT office!

This has been neatened up a little, but I am posting it because it shows some other parts of our program coming into reality. You can see the FSIL skeleton, George, sitting in a corner chair that came from our Cardboard Carpentry labs.  The plastic bag in front has some Days for Girls kits made by Clauricianne and Genie, graduates of St. Vincent’s.  The zebra stripe bag has therapy supplies given by Shirley Celestin, OT from the US.  We have crutches and a walker!  We have toner!  So much good stuff!

 

img_3507

I had a seat in the front at this commemoration of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. President Privert is at the podium, and our Episcopal Bishop, the Rt Rev Zaché Duracin, is to his left.

 

At the commemoration of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, thanks to a visit from our wonderful friends, Joan and Richard Fleming, I was able to shake the President’s hand and hear these dignitaries speak, AND enjoy some orchestral music.  The ceremony took place outdoors in an amphitheater in Port-au-Prince, near to the UNEPH campus.  Some friends from St. Vincent’s were there also: Pére Fanfan and Maille!

img_3525

Five sophomores, all PT students, wearing scrubs and heading out to their first Clinical Education experience, in January 2017.

And here is ANOTHER first:  our five sophomore PT students, ready to go in the van to the town of Grand Gôave, where they had their first clinical education week.  Linda Robinson, PT, supervised; Jami Flick, OT and Clin Ed Developer, accompanied; Angie Shepherd, director of the Missions of Hope clinic, hosted!

Sometimes it is just hard to get to the laptop to post. But I don’t want to hog all this remarkableness to myself…so I promise to write again soon!

A flood of THANKS, for deluges of BLESSINGS!

The end of one year and the beginning of another gives a chance to look backwards and then forwards.  My experience of the past year has been almost entirely looking forwards!  The next thing, then the next, then the next TWO things, then the next THREE, until I am always like the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, running as fast as I can to stay in the same place!

But these quiet snowy days here in our home in Kalispell have given me an opportunity to reflect and to realize the many many things we have to be thankful for.  All those urgent efforts were for good reasons:  showers of blessings, snowfalls of opportunities, floods of visitors all bringing good resources, good will, good prayers, good energy.   I am deeply grateful.

I want to say THANK YOU!

First, I want to thank my family: Donnel for everything, including living at FSRL last year and teaching English; Chase for teaching English too; and Aidan for working many hours on the website, brochures, and Facebook page.

2016-04-04 ESL faculty 1 09.44.07

ESL – English as a Second Language – faculty: Donnel and Chase!

aidan-at-natural-bridge

Photographer Aidan in Santa Cruz, California

aidan-taking-photo

Here’s Aidan again, working on our website!

HAITI REHABILITATION FOUNDATION BOARD

Thank you to the selfless creativity of Janis Handte, president of HRF.  Janis caught the vision immediately several years ago and began to make it happen.  The answer to “Do we have the resources for X Y Z?” has always been, “We’ll have to find it somewhere.  Send in the request.”  When you ask Janis why she works so hard on this, she says that it is for Love:  she asks, “And who would NOT love the sweetness of these students?” 

2016-10-02-janis-promotion-stones-1-07-11-55

Janis’s name in stones in the courtyard, signifying the students’ wish to honor her dedication to FSRL by inviting her to be the patron of the first entering class.

Thank you to Vice-President Hope Lennartz: Hope and her spouse Solange who decided to take a personal risk, lending HRF $10,000 from their retirement fund so that we could have a little room to move forward, in this first year and a half of tight money! 

dsc_0085

Hope and Solange hamming it up at the Haiti Connection 2013 conference!

Thank you to the faithful behind-the-scenes work of Treasurer Judith Straub, and Secretary Tom Tamlyn.  Thank you to the HRF Board members:  Renee Brown, Marjorie Dimanche (Gabby), Catherine Manx Feintuch, Monique Germain, Yves Roseus, Sabrina Salvant.  Thank you to the remarkable Joseph Balogun, retired from the HRF board this year.

FSRL GOVERNING BOARD

Thank you to the esteemed members of our very new governing board for academic oversight! The Governing Board has only met in full session once, but the formative members, all of those on the FSRL Advisory board, have been meeting and supporting this infant program since Feb. of 2014 (and, informally, even earlier).  The first advisors and Charter Members were Dr. Bernard and Dr. Joseph ( the Rector and Vice-rector of UNEPH), the Rev. Dr. Frantz Casséus (of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti), and Dr. Hilda Alcindor ( dean of FSIL).  All of those Advisors are now part of the Governing Board  They are now joined by myself (President of the Board), the Rev. Sadoni Léon (Treasurer), Mr. Richard Romage (Secretary, and also president of the Societé Haitienne des Physiothérapeutes, SHP),  the Rev. Frantz Cole (director of St. Vincent’s Center), Mme. Autumn Marshall (president of the Association Haitienne des Ergothérapeutes, AHE) as well as our academic committee members, Dr. Kate Barrett, Dr. Julie Booth, and Mme. Jami Flick. We are honored to have the Rt. Rev. Jean Zaché Duracin on the board as well, ex officio, as the diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Haiti.

A special thanks to Dr. Hilda Alcindor, Dr. Robert R. Joseph, Père Sadoni Léon, and Père Frantz Cole (Père Fanfan) for individual counsel that has been very helpful in the past few months.

dsc_0081

Janet and Mme. Alcindor, in 2014 at the Haiti Connection conference.

img_2558

Presidents of the OT and the PT associations, both participating on the FSRL governing board!

dsc_0090

Dr. Bernard (second from left), Dr. Joseph, the Rev. Dr. Casséus, and the Rev. Sadoni Léon, at the Haiti Connection conference in 2013.

OUR DONORS

It is impossible to over-estimate the generosity of our donors.  Every one of them has had to accept on faith that the potential of this new program was strong and would be worthwhile:  that the needs of the people with disabilities in Haiti in fact are genuine, and that the path to addressing them lies through the method of building capacity by academic education of Haitian therapists.  And, in a vote of confidence, donors have accepted that the people pulling this effort together are both well-intentioned and well-prepared.  Our donors are visionaries, people who see what can be, even when it is not yet evident.   I think our donors are unusual people.

I love a little story that appears in the well-known account of Paul Farmer’s work in Haiti, written by Tracy Kidder, called Mountains Beyond Mountains.  The most generous and consistent donor for the medical work once said to Paul Farmer, “I think I should leave my company and come to Haiti, to work directly with the people who really need the help.”  “No”, said Paul, “For you to move to Haiti would be a sin.”  Ha!  The reason of course is that by staying in the US and running a prosperous company he was powering this life-changing effort.    

I don’t want to say what is or isn’t right for each of us to do – I don’t have Paul Farmer’s confidence!  But I really see his point, that the power source is as essential as the action on the ground.   You can’t do any work at all if you have no power source. I am grateful to all our donors, of large and small amounts, one-timers and repeat givers, with stipulations and without! You are on this team, making history!

anna-marie-w-faulstich-photo-1

Anna Marie Walter Faulstich, the mother of Dr. Ginny Shiller, for whom a scholarship has been given. Ginny and Bob Shiller have been early and generous supporters of FSRL.

mary-elizabeth-odowd_19_newlywed

Mary Elizabeth O’Dowd, grandmother of Maureen Jesuthasan, in whose honor a scholarship for an Episcopal student, a member of Ste. Croix parish, has been given.

OUR FACULTY

I am deeply grateful to our core group of faculty members who have formed the nucleus of this curriculum for years now, starting in 2012.  Dr. Julie Booth has written the PT curriculum (and re-written and re-written, as needs and opportunities become clearer). 

2015-10-10 After Rehab sem, English conv., MD, JB, ML, DG, CA 2 17.36.43

An informal English lesson: PT vocabulary! Julie with students from Quinnipiac and FSRL.

Dr. Kate Barrett has written and re-written the OT curriculum, holding to the big picture while making the changes needed for the practicalities of supporting learning needs of our initial very small group of OTs. 

2015-10-30 ACOT Haiti flag with Barbadod, Jamaica flags 15.11.28

Dr. Kate Barrett holding Haiti flag, Fleur with Jamaica’s flag, Gabrielle with Canada’s, and Nedra who is from the UK with the flag of Barbados.

Mme. Jami Flick has designed and re-designed the clinical education curriculum, first for both OT and PT, but now assisted by Mme. Ruth Cross, PT from England, who shares the role of PT clinical ed developer.  [Jami!  Send photographs!]  

15823796_1312642985465481_1494045463_o

Ruth Cross, our PT clinical ed developer, at home in England.

 Dr. Patty Coker-Bolt reached out to FSRL in her capacity as a Fulbright Specialist, and has become essential to the team as she has undertaken the huge task of matching the volunteer faculty members with the specific courses to be taught.  Patty has also written our first successful research grant application: thanks to her, FSRL is now engaged in public health research that will be presented at the Yale Global Health conference in April 2017!  These faculty members epitomize service:  all of this focused and dedicated effort is above and beyond their already demanding jobs.  And they epitomize selflessness, leaving behind any issues of ego and entering into the spirit of “can-do” collaboration.

2015-11-27 Coker-Bolts at gh 1 20.31.17

Dr. Patty Coker-Bolt and Dr. Rick Bolt, on their first visit to the FSRL campus – taking a well-deserved break after serving Thanksgiving dinner in the cafeteria!

And then we have met so many new volunteer faculty members!  We have been blessed with generous course authors who have gone out of their way to take time away from their own work to write curricula, write course syllabi, and write lecture notes and power points.  Some of these senior faculty members have also made time to come to the FSRL campus to teach for a week during their own course sessions.  We have had courses written by Dr. Jack Thomas, Nazanin Karegar, Dr. Patty Coker-Bolt, Wadson Michel, Dr. Renee Brown, Dr. Christine Kasinskas, just in the past year of 2016! 

img_2861-anatomy-ii-jt-cropped

Anatomy II – Dr. Jack Thomas demonstrating structures of radial border of forearm

2016-10-17-13-38-47

Our OT professor from Canada, Nazanin Karegar, watching the talent show at the Féte de L’Integration in October 2016.

More are currently in process.  We have had in-class instructors who have come to campus to present the courses, in the form of one-time seminars, two or three course sessions, a full intensive week, or more than one week!  The list is long and marvelous:  starting with Rose Bertha Baptiste, Haitian PT and assistant instructor, last fall and spring; Magda Cadet, Dr. Julie Booth with Courtney and Deanna, J.P. Aubourg, Dr. Teresa Plummer and the Belmont group, Consuelo Alzamora, Ashley Kahila, Sally Todd, Lydia Deputy Buisserith, Autumn Marshall, Rosie Flammang, Dirk and Karen Martin, Judith Roeder, [I’m going too quickly (not catching all the visitors!)] to Dr. Claudia Medeiros, Dr. Rhonda Nisbett, Dr. Rachel Zimmerman, Ruth Cross, Dr. Marc Pierre, Dr. Jean Dornevil, Linda Robinson – working with translators Steeve Auguste, Jonathan Auguste, Samuel Romelus, and our wonderful assistant Miselene Lafleur, who now translates as needed.  I KNOW I’ve missed faculty members names here – so sorry in advance!  You have been the highlights of our time at FSRL – I need to go back through this very active time to pull out all the names and all the gifts that have been given here!

2016-09-30-fsrl-stds-w-rhonda-n-jonathan-a-3-12-02-06

Anatomy II – Dr. Rhonda Nisbett, students, and Jonathan Auguste, translator

img_3124

Miselene Lafleur and Wadson Michel, perching on the edge of the pick-up truck for our ride to the Health Fair.

And then we have even more staff!  Starting with Rebecca Moise, who was our first and very personable administrative assistant here on campus, before the students even came, with the early and generous welcome of Evens Joicin.  Our staff now includes many of the FSIL staff who work with us, FSRL, for a few hours a week:   Mme. Shirley Dieuveille Mathieu, Mme. Guerlande Leriche, Mme. Dieuline Vincent, Mme. M. Dominque Laurent, Mme. Fabiola Lamothe, Mme. Paule-nise Stinful, and  M. Jean Rony Pierre Louis.  And our drivers!   M. Jacques Durandisse, M. Patrick Dumond, M. Eddy Nicolas, M. Mario Lauremy, M. Abner Lorries, M. Mitch Tercius.  And the many FSIL staff who help us all the time with kitchen, cleaning, gardening, and repairs, mentioning especially Mme. Dominque Etienne.  And the chaplain of FSIL/FSRL, the Rev. Sonley Joseph, who is also a friend and guide.

2016-04-05 GARDENER M.ALCINDOR 08.03.10

M. Muracin Alcindor, (no relation to Dean Alcindor),  gardener

SPEAKING OF FRIENDS

I want to thank the Mission Board of the Episcopal Church, especially David Copley, Elisabeth, Grace, and Yanick, for their vision in supporting this very specific kind of mission work.  Thank you especially for including us in the training with the wonderful group of missioners in the Young Adult Service Corps – rays of sunshine, every one of them!

2015-11-14 JOF, DOF, AY, EB Episcopal missionaries 1 12.27.46

Janet and Donnel O’Flynn with Alan Yarborough and Eliza Brinkley, YASC missionaries to Haiti in 2016.

SPEAKING OF MORE FRIENDS

I am so grateful to friends here in Haiti who have gotten the vision early and have helped us remember why we are here – to the young women of St. Vincent’s who are themselves ambassadors for people with disabilities; to Gabby’s family and friends, Joel, Ritchy, Johanna, and Evarita too;  to Frantz Charles, rehab tech; and to Mr. Stevenson Millien, president of the Association of the Handicapped of Léogâne.

img_1494

Janet with Judith, Clauricianne, and Dieumene, at the Fête d’Anniversaire de FSIL, January 2016

2015-09-05 Red Cross, Ev & Rich outside 3 12.09.40

Evarita, Rehab technician and friend, and Gabby’s son Richard, generously showing off Léogâne’s sights!

Thank you so much to Mr. Gerald Oriol, Jr., recent Secretary of State for Integration of Persons with Disabilities, and now the patron of our new upcoming first-year class!

2015-12-03  Dr. Oriol at St. V. 2 09.01.51

Dr. Gerard Oriol, Secretary of State for Integration of Handicapped Persons

OUR STUDENTS

Our students are the best.  They are bright, dedicated, humorous, flexible, persistent, and determined.  Thank you for your hard work on your studies!  For never giving up when things seem confusing, for pushing ahead to learn the next lesson, for going back to tie it all together.  Thank you to Roosevelt, the major of second year:, to Amendocia, Jean Laurent, Merly, Micza! 

Thank you to Emerson, major of first year, and to Bergedia, Nirva,  Sainfolia, Stephyole, Nicholson, Sam Paul, and Boaz.  With your hopes and your thoughts and your commitment, we will all be successful in this moment of making history!

2016-06-09 Baby, Micza, Merly 13.16.04

Micza and Merly with a marvelous infant!

img_1915-jpg-five-std-on-bench

Five second-year students, all in the PT degree program, kicking back for a moment in the lobby!

2016-10-21-first-year-fsrl-students-w-jof-15-31-49

Our wonderful new first-year students, wearing the early-in-the-year uniforms in November, full of hopeful smiles!

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….?” Maybe yes, maybe no?

It’s been hard to remember that Christmas is coming!  I have been following the readings from the Common Lectionary which are all about the prophecies of the coming of the Lord, and those are especially powerful to hear in this place.  The messages from the prophets saying that the Lord will not tolerate the oppression of the needy by the wealthy have that definite ring of relevance.  But the idea that cocoa and Santa Claus and Christmas stockings are just around the corner is in fact something I forget for hours at a time….until I walk around the corner and see the lobby at FSIL/FSRL!  A beautiful tree, and a wreath!  I love this!  The tree went up the last week of November.  During the week it’s lighted.  Sometimes a tinny musical selection of carols plays as well.

img_1121

A flashback to Dec. 8 LAST year, with Donnel by the Christmas tree in the lobby, so you can see just how tall it is. A beautiful and unexpected reminder, on a hot and sultry evening!

img_3310

And here it is, this year, in the daytime.

The students here are also getting ready with gifts.  The nursing and rehab students will put on a health fair for local children in the neighborhood (and their families) on Saturday, the 18th of Dec.  Each student is charged with finding or buying a children’s outfit of clothing, a pair of shoes, and a toy.  The items were meant to be delivered to the secretary’s desk at the end of the past week.  Here’s a picture of the nursing faculty unpacking the huge box with the new dresses and the little pairs of trousers hanging over the edges.

img_3314

Two nursing faculty members sort and count the outfits for children, overflowing from the box, in preparation for the Christmas Hope (Nwel Espwa) health fair on Saturday.

The fair is called “Nwel Espwa”  which is Kreyol for Noel Espoir, or Christmas Hope. Last year at the fair we did not run a station, but even so the nursing students identified two children who had very pronounced developmental delays.  We were able to write a referral for those two students to Respire Haiti, a rehab provider in the next town (Gressier) for evaluation and treatment.
This year, FSRL will have a table or a station, where children can be screened to see if they are meeting their developmental guidelines.  We’ll have a pediatric PT (Dr. Julie Booth) and three pediatric OTs (Dr. Patty Coker-Bolt, Mme. Shirley Celestin, and myself) to run the screenings.  Students of FSRL will be able to observe, and may be able to participate too.
Then, on the 19th of Dec., thanks so much to the Episcopal Mission board, I will be flying home!  I am guessing that cocoa and Santa Claus and Christmas stockings will suddenly seem plausible, on Tuesday the 20th of December!  We will have all our family in one place:  a great luxury these days and not to be assumed…..hurray when it can happen!
I will have two weeks in Montana, in the snow and in our new house, at home with Donnel.  Hurray again!
I wish for all of you a blessed time with family and friends, if not on the 25th of December then sometime, while we are still on this earth!
Merry Christmas!

Janet gets to give a mini-sermon!

3 December 2016:  International Day of the Handicapped

Our school, FSRL, together with two other organizations    (AHL, Association des Handicaps de Léogâne, and OISUH, Lafleur’s organization) presented a festivity: a fête, on Saturday at the AHL clubhouse. 

Many of the members of AHL have amputations, following the earthquake of 2010.  There are people without vision, and with hemiplegia, and a couple of members who are deaf too.

I am tickled to say that I was asked to give a brief talk, and since the FSRL students REALLY LIKED IT, I am reproducing it here!  (It was given in French, and Roosevelt translated it into Kreyol.)

“Good morning, and welcome to the Féte for the International Day of the Handicapped, which is celebrated in all the countries of the world!

Greetings to the president and members of AHL, the president and members of OISUH, the students of FSRL, and citizens of Léogâne.

I have a very important question today for all of us to consider.

The question is, “WHERE is the location of human dignity?”

Is it located in our right leg, for instance?  Or in our left?  Is it in one arm or the other?  Is it perhaps in our eyes, or in our ears, or in our nervous system?

No?  Then where?

It is located in our breath, in our very breathing, in our life itself, because we are made in the image of God, our Father.

Does God the Father have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and a nervous system?  NO!  But God does have breath.  God’s breath is the Holy Spirit.

So we all have human dignity, as God’s creation and his gift of life.

Congratulations on the International Day of Handicapped Persons.  Enjoy it, and may God bless you!”