Rehabilitation and Educational Center for Disabled Children Opens in Haiti
Reported by Monica Gery, Information Officer
Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos International
On September 8, 2008, Fr. Rick Frechette, National Director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos/Nos Petit Frères et Soeurs (NPH/NPFS, Spanish and French for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) Haiti, gave the opening prayer for Kay Germaine, commemorating the first day in operation. The entire staff including Gena Heraty, Director of Kay Germaine, has looked forward to this day since the conception of the idea a few years ago.
In 2004, Gena, the Director of Kay Christine (the home for disabled children at the NPH/NPFS orphanage), started offering outpatient services to disabled children in the slum of Wharf Jeremy. The concept was to offer services to disabled children and support for the mothers so they can develop the tools to care for their children and not abandon them. This outreach grew and was relocated to the old hospital facility in Pétionville. Services have also expanded and now 50 children receive physical therapy and 17 are enrolled in the on-site school with 10 support staff. These children still attend the program at this facility due to the ease of location.
At the Hospital Medical Center location in Tabarre, in an adjacent lot, Kay Germaine is a 7,500 square foot outreach rehabilitation and educational center. On the ground floor the facilities include play rooms, classrooms, physical therapy rooms, offices, examination room, conference room, kitchen, dining room, waiting room and a pool. On the second floor there are guest and volunteer facilities including rooms and a kitchen. The three main components to the Kay Germaine program are physical therapy, school and a feeding program. There are 30 children registered for the school and 20 enrolled in physical therapy. Currently the staff consists of 13 employees with the goal of hiring three more.
A typical scenario of a mother in this program is that her husband or partner has abandoned her once he realizes that the child is disabled. The majority of the mothers have four other children and live in rented accommodations. They are unemployed and humiliated by everyone because the general population views disabled children as a waste of time. They usually receive handouts or possibly assistance from other family members. A microcredit program was started to help these mothers and the reimbursement rate has been quite successful. The average first loan is for $140 and the greatest has been for $385. With this loan, they can purchase goods to then re-sell on the street or buy food to make lunch and sell on the street. Gena is hoping to start craft and embroidery activities for resale that the mothers can participate in while they wait for their children at both centers. The children that benefit the most spend at least a few hours a week and receive a protein drink and lunch. The average visit is 2-3 times per week. These programs also support three former pequeños (adults who grew up at the NPH/NPFS home) as employees.
The operation of both centers is vitally important to continue providing families in need with resources, education and dignity.
Thank you to all the donors who made this dream a reality. It is an oasis of beauty in a country full of hardship. The mothers and children light up when they are in the facility and they are so proud to be part of our organization.
The official inauguration of Kay Germaine is Wednesday, December 3, 2008.
To see more photos, please click the following links:
• Kay Germaine Children and Staff
• Kay Germaine Exterior and Interior
In the U.S., NPH/NPFS is supported by Friends of the Orphans. Your contributions help NPH/NPFS care for over 3,500 children at its nine homes as well as serve more than 30,000 people each year through community outreach programs like Kay Germaine. If you would like to help, please click here to make an online donation or contact your regional Friends of the Orphans office to find out about other ways you can help.