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.
ESL – English as a Second Language – faculty: Donnel and Chase!
Photographer Aidan in Santa Cruz, California
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?”
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!
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.
Janet and Mme. Alcindor, in 2014 at the Haiti Connection conference.
Presidents of the OT and the PT associations, both participating on the FSRL governing board!
Dr. Bernard (second from left), Dr. Joseph, the Rev. Dr. Casséus, and the Rev. Sadoni Léon, at the Haiti Connection conference in 2013.
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 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 O’Dowd, grandmother of Maureen Jesuthasan, in whose honor a scholarship for an Episcopal student, a member of Ste. Croix parish, has been given.
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).
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.
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!]
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.
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!
Anatomy II – Dr. Jack Thomas demonstrating structures of radial border of forearm
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!
Anatomy II – Dr. Rhonda Nisbett, students, and Jonathan Auguste, translator
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.
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!
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.
Janet with Judith, Clauricianne, and Dieumene, at the Fête d’Anniversaire de FSIL, January 2016
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!
Dr. Gerard Oriol, Secretary of State for Integration of Handicapped Persons
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!
Micza and Merly with a marvelous infant!
Five second-year students, all in the PT degree program, kicking back for a moment in the lobby!
Our wonderful new first-year students, wearing the early-in-the-year uniforms in November, full of hopeful smiles!