I have been doing a LOT of thinking in the last week, since arriving back at my post in Léogâne.
I will lay it out there, so that you can all do a lot of thinking too.
We have so many assets now! At the same time, that means we also have begun to outgrow the ability for our strong but relatively small pool of donors to carry it all!
As our assets, mostly immaterial, grow, our financial support needs to grow as well. Here is how it looks to me.
We have a group of excellent, motivated, compassionate students. See Part One of this BLOG! The faces tell it all!
We have a group of excellent, motivated, compassionate faculty members! Last year we had over forty faculty members contributing to provide a high level of excellence in the academic content. This year most of them will be coming back, I hope! And another thirty or more new ones will be joining them, as we are now teaching concurrent classes for multiple years.
We have a group of excellent, motivated, compassionate donors! I am humbled by our supporters, some of whom have come in person to see for themselves and to help out, and others who have just trusted us to do the right thing with their gifts, even without seeing the school. Our number of repeat donors is high! It is easy to see the reality of the fact that donors are team members. Donors have been providing the fuel to keep the productivity coming along.
We have a group of excellent, motivated, compassionate HRF board members! I want to mention Janis Handte especially, our outgoing board president, who has brought us from zero students to nineteen, in three academic cohorts, by caring, caring, and caring some more.
We can take our second and third year students in the coming week, at the invitation of the Secretary of State for Inclusion of Handicapped Persons, to meet with him in his office and have the tour of his Bureau. Many staff members there have some form of physical difference that might in the past have kept them out of government jobs – it is an exciting work space to visit!
We can take our small number of OT students to the international conference of the Association of Caribbean OTs (ACOT) in Jamaica in November. Once there, we can meet for the first time with the first OT graduates from the U. of Guyana. Both small groups of OTs are the first in their respective countries. We are inviting them to form peer-mentoring relationships, to share case studies and the struggles and successes of working for professional licensure.
We can play a key role in the effort to start the first rehabilitation clinic at our local hospital in Léogâne. We have written a grant application for renovation of a room, and equipment. FSRL’s part will be to hire a Haitian PT to direct the clinic, provide PT, supervise our students, and also to teach classes on campus.
We can begin a dialogue, leading to a collaboration, with the other PT program in Haiti, UNIFA – the University of the Aristide Foundation. Such a collaboration will be ground-breaking. It will help immensely in gaining official recognition for the profession of PT in Haiti.
We can build our continuing education series offered to local practitioners, which has proved to be very popular and well-attended. We are working quietly to provide a workshop in the near future on a topic that might be controversial, but is vital for the mental and physical health of so many Haitians: a culturally appropriate but still challenging workshop on medical care for people with issues of sexuality and gender.
We can expand our collaboration to embrace the new opportunities offered to us by the U. de Sherbrooke, a francophone university in Quebec with OT and PT programs.
BUILDING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE, JUST A LITTLE
We have now offered a job (at a very low pay I am afraid) to an administrator for FSRL. The person who is planning to come (name to be sent out once the contract is signed) is a retired Haitian-American nurse with a master’s in Administration. She has altruistic motives for coming – since she grew up in Haiti, and left with her family at a young age, she has always wanted to “give back” to her native land.
Our students have gotten too numerous for the FSIL dorms! We are looking as fast as we can for a dorm space off campus for our second and third year students.
WHAT WE NEED
All of what we are doing, and planning to do, will take resources. Money. We have started to receive some income from some students: they are not all on scholarships! But it is not enough yet to give a foundation for our monthly operations.
WHY ARE WE NOW QUESTIONING IN THIS WAY: GOING ON, OR GOING BACK?
To “go back” would mean, for instance, to stay on campus without spending for transportation:
to cancel special events such as the ACOT conference and visiting BSEIPH.
It would mean putting our students in a hardship position, if we did not find and rent another dorm space for them.
It would mean declining to hire a Haitian PT, in order to open the rehab clinic at Hôpital Sainte Croix.
It would mean delaying or cancelling the hiring of an administrator to help me, the volunteer dean, keep all this complicated program organized!
To “go on” would mean to continue to take the steps that are opening up before us, little by little, following our opportunities as we have always done,
to increase collaboration in Haiti with the rehabilitation community,
and to increase collaboration in the region with the Caribbean associations.
It would mean establishing relationships that will help our graduates, in just two more years, to take their places professionally in Haiti as leaders.
It would mean putting our program on a more solid footing organizationally: less “seat of the pants” and more professional in its management.
I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I WANT TO GO ON! YES, WE CAN!
Our donors are GENEROUS GIVERS
John and Rose Novak, souls of generosity, with Donnel in the summer of 2016, in Cazenovia NY.
Kent Bolstad, Donnel’s cousin in Montana, who with his wife Mae has supported FSRL more than once, that’s for sure!
The givers to FSRL have given at a sacrificial level! They, YOU, have given not just from the excess cash, but also from money needed for daily expenses. And not just once, but many times,. And they, YOU, have given time and attention and love, by writing courses, buying air tickets, volunteering to teach too, all out of a passion and excitement we share about an unusual opportunity to bring real and lasting change to the situation of our Haitian friends with disabilities.
WHAT CAN WE DO NOW, to keep going on?
Well, first, if you were thinking you might make an end-of-the-year gift to FSRL, umm, could you make it in September instead?
Second, if you have any possibilities of expanding our network of team members, please sing out!
Donnel and I will be in the US in November to meet with Rotary Clubs, churches, and community groups to whom we have some connections in the northeast.
We have a faculty member, Dr. David Morrisette, who has joined the HRF board who will be reaching out to PT student groups.
We have dedicated groups of students at the Medical U. of South Carolina and at Quinnipiac University who have been doing fund-raisers and publicity, which we hope will spread.
Our faculty and academic committee members are talking about FSRL at academic conferences across the US and now in Canada as well.
Maybe you would be able to help our story spread? We have a great video, thanks to Alison Sims of Belmont U. We have a slide show in Power Point form. We have printed materials: brochures, and our annual report for 2016, with great photos. Please contact us via this blog or my email, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have ideas and can help our resources grow as much as our program is growing!