This will tell the story of the first year of the new Rehabilitation Dept. of the Episcopal University in Haiti, from the viewpoint of Donnel and Janet O'Flynn.
This little article was written on January 9th 2020. It is a reflection on the life of FSRL, in light of the earthquake in Haiti ten years ago on January 12, 2010. If you are in a town with a local paper that might reflect on this anniversary, please feel free to share this for publication, or for a Letter to the Editor !
“After January 12, 2010
In our living room, in winter, shocking photos and videos suddenly erupted on television with the announcement of a disaster of Biblical proportions in Port au Prince, Haiti. In the hours that followed we learned that our close friends, the handicapped people of St Vincent’s Center, had been destroyed in 30 seconds by the earthquake. My family members began calling each other, to cry together.
But we were among the lucky ones. After 24 hours, we discovered that this news was false! Almost all of our friends were safe, even though the building was in ruins. And with joy, the ideas started. How can we express our love for this community of true personalities, strong in spirit, in good humor and compassionate towards each other?
Haiti had no school for the education of rehabilitation professionals. It was possible for a disabled person to spend all their life without contact with a professional to give them the therapies and adaptations that could free them from limitations. The rehabilitation services that foreign volunteers could provide were limited and partial, and lacked the cultural elements that are salient for the strong ties between Haitians.
In 2015, doors opened within the nursing school at the Episcopal University of Haiti for five students in the professions of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. Collaboration has grown and so has the school. This month, 10 years after the earthquake, the first cohort of FSRL students will graduate. In the audience will be members of the community of people with handicapping conditions who grew up at St. Vincent’s.
The current academic coordinator and the university administrator are Haitian, accompanied by professors from universities in the United States, Canada and Chile. This school has no real campus, no library full of books, no constant internet. But this school has a goodness of creativity, energy and direction for the improvement of the life of more than 1.1 million Haitians who live with physical, intellectual or mental limits. They are an inspiring group, of which Haiti can be proud.
Yes, there are positive results in Haiti. Come and visit us in Léogâne!”