A tale of love and caring from Gena

On the way down

He is just a baby but somehow he looks older,
I sat behind him, in our mini bus,
on the way down to our rehab centre -about a 90 minute trip- less if no traffic.
His mother held him tight and told me she had not yet dressed him,
“ I took him straight from his bed, it is too early to get him dressed, too chilly this early’
It was 6am- she was right!
On the way down,
it started to get bright and as we left the cool mountain air behind us,
the mother started to get her little man ready for the day.
First came the wipes, then the cute check shirt and cool pants.
With loving hands she wiped away the sleep from his soft face and his cuddly body.
I got to hold him for a few minutes when she was making up his bottle.
I felt honoured to be holding this special little boy.
We chatted and he happily drank his milk.

She told me where she lives and I groaned a little,
as it is far from where we live and even farther from our rehab center.
I told her I had been there some years back and I never forgot the awful road-that was just loose rocks, and how it went down and down and down
and there seemed to be no end to the road or the rocks,
and really to call it a road was to be very generous!!
‘The road is much better now’ she said.

She has three other kids, two are living in Port Au Prince so they can go to secondary school.
‘’You know we have no secondary school in our area”
The other is just four and he lives with her and her husband.
They work the land.
It is not easy to make a living.
They borrowed money to plant a plot of leeks.
The harvest was bad- too much rain.
They did not even make enough to pay back what they borrowed.
She does not know how she will pay back her debt.
School is about to start- she has no idea how she will send her kids to school.
The four year old was due to start school- he is very smart she said.
He will have to wait another year.
All her money is spent looking after her baby.
He has many problems.
Since he was born she is up and down to hospital with him.
To go to our rehab she has to leave her house and stay with friends,
she comes to stay with them the day before,
and then she can get a lift up and down in our bus.
The day I spoke to her she had not been home in four days.

I wish ye could have seen how lovingly she cared for her little boy-
Everything was done with great skill, and great love-the bus was moving fast enough and the road is very windy- to undress and dress a little baby as we were zipping along- no small feat.
“when he was born he was unable to breast feed- his jaws would not work “she said.

She told me she never leaves him with neighbours,
she does not want anything to happen to him.
“I never left my kids with others
kids are innocent, you need to make sacrifices for them.
I can go hungry, but I will not leave him- a neighbour left her 9 month old baby with her older kids and she went to sell in the market, she was out the whole day.
When she came back she found her baby dead- he had fallen out of the bed or something.
You should never leave kids to watch over kids. I never did that with mine. I will never do it”

Her oldest kid has finished secondary school.
I congratulated her.
She worries about what he will do next as she cannot pay further studies and there is no employment to be found.
‘When you are brought up a certain way, and your parents were not able to do many things for you,
you yourself have to try to do better for your kids.
So they don’t resent you, when they are older.
Better that they see you did all you could,
even if it was not enough, than they think you did not try.
I believe in education for my kids’

The little boy was coughing- a lot.

“He has a lot of secretions – it bothers him.
When he is crying, YOU might not notice,
he does not cry like other kids- you have to know him well,
to notice when he is crying- the sound does not really come out’

I wish you could have seen her brush his hair. He has lovely hair. And a lot of it – curly.
The gentle way she did it, making her beautiful 8 month old baby even more beautiful than he already was.
I was entranced, I was in awe. So much attention to getting it just right.
My tears took me by surprise, even now as I write these words tears have filled my eyes.
If you had been there I bet you would have teared up also.
You know how it is when you witness something so beautiful, so powerful, so intense- and you feel your heart will expand right out of your chest?
Remember that great line from Alisyon Moyet- ‘I go weak, weak in the presence of beauty”
Tis a good line for how I felt!

Well anyway, I sent them to the hospital instead of Physical Therapy and some hrs later they were back in the mini bus,
on their way back up the mountain again- with meds for the cough.
I presume she did not eat at all that day in the hospital.
We gave her therapy appointments for consecutive days so at least she can go home for the rest of the week.
Normally twice a week PT appointments are not on consecutive days.

This morning at 6am as I was giving something to the driver,
I heard a ‘Bonjou Madam Gena- kreyol for hello Mme. Gena.
There they were in the darkness.
He was wrapped up and she was holding him tight.
I helped them into the mini bus and then handed her, her two bags- one maroon color and one black.
I noticed the colours because to me these were no ordinary bags.
I knew what was inside those bags.
I knew they carried the instruments for the acts of love that would be carried out on the way down.
I lifted them with reverence.

I was not going down today.
She must be at home in her own home tonight.
Holding him tight.


Gena Heraty, 31 August 2021

Your help for those in need

Work goes on to help victims

It’s tough to get aid to the victims of the earthquake for various reasons: roads cut and collapsed bridges make it very tough to get through to the areas affected.

Injured baby receiving treatment from NPH

Gangs and storms

Gangs all around the capital, Port de Prince, and in the areas worst affected, Jeremies y Les Cayes, add an extra layer of difficulty. Additionally, Storm Grace hit the South-West immediately after the earthquake.

In spite of all these difficulties, your donations from NPH Ireland are getting through, via our local organization, NPH Haiti, and also the related organization, St. Luke Foundation for Haiti.

Short- and long-term support

We have managed to get through by road and sea to the worst-affected areas in the South-West. NPH is providing medical care to the sick and injured and is delivering water, food, shelter and psychological support.

Aid on route to earthquake victims
Aid from you on route to the victims

At the same time we are preparing an aid plan for the victims in the medium and long term (reconstruction of homes, planting crops and reviving the countryside as a means of sustainable support for those affected). NPH has been offering care to those we have encountered on route, as well as those in the worst-affected areas.

The Haitians are accustomed to suffering and to keeping their spirits up, but they really need our help in the face of this new humanitarian disaster.

Local staff committed to their country

Our organizations in Haiti (NPH Haiti and the St. Luke Foundation) are staffed by trained local staff, with a very high commitment to their country and its communities. They speak the local languages, French and creole, which is essential for doing their work and showing their compassion with those in need.

NPH has the necessary experience on the ground: 35 years developing education, health and nutrition programmes, as well as our involvement in humanitarian emergencies. We help to improve the lives of more than 100,000 Haitians every year.

Aid delivered directly by NPH

Donations received from our supporters are managed directly by NPH Haiti and the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, allowing us to ensure their efficient and effective use in improving and saving lives.

Thank you for your commitment

We are grateful for your support. Don’t forget Haiti.
And, please, keep the donations coming.

Help for Haiti earthquake victims

Immediate aid for victims of the Haiti earthquake

The number of dead has now risen to 1,800, with over 5,000 injured. Some 1.5 million Haitians are thought to have been affected by the earthquake in the South-West of Haiti, in particular in Jeremie and Les Cayes.

Loaiding up supplies for earthquake victims
NPH loading up supplies for earthquake victims

Rescue operations underway

Efforts are still underway to rescue survivors. In the affected areas there is widespread devestation – destruction of hospitals, schools, churches and homes. Many Haitians are sleeping in the open air, in part for fear of further tremors. Towns and countryside alike have been badly affected. There is a desperate need for international aid.

NPH is delivering aid

NPH’s emergency aid is focussed on the essentials: water, food, shelter, medical supplies and care, and transport for supplies and for the injured.

50 beds at St. Luke Hospital dedicated to the injured

St. Luke Hospital has reserved 50 beds for the first seriously injured victims being transported by air from Les Cayes and Jeremie. The majority of the injured are being taken to hospitals in Port au Prince, and NPH is providing them CT scans and x-rays free of charge.

Medical supplies for local hospitals

Thanks to the contacts of the St. Luke Foundation in the affected areas, NPH is able to deliver medical supplies to the few hospitals that exist. This aid will continue for as long as necessary.

NPH local medical presence

The local medical team of the St. Luke Foundation is caring for the people affected in Les Cayes and Camp Perin from temporary clinics based in camps.

For a local perspective, we recommend you read a personal take from Father Rick Frechette of the St. Luke Foundation.

Support for isolated areas

NPH is contacting medical personnel attending to the injured in areas that have been cut off such as Duchity, Pestel, Baraderes, y Petit Trou. We will supply the medical aid needed for their care.

Via Bishop Dumas in the areas of Anse and Veau, and via Bishop Decostes in the Jeremie area, we are establishing how to deliver emergency aid to those affected.

A roof for 250 families

After initial inspections we have established that there is an urgent need for shelter, especially now that tropical storms are reaching Haiti. We are selecting the most vulnerable families affected by the earthquake, in Petit Trou and Nippes.

NPH will focus chiefly on bringing emergency aid to people in the countryside, who to date have largely not benefited from international aid. Our initial aim is to support 250 vulnerable families.

NPH families affected

Many of local teams working at the Key Germain programme for children and adults with special needs have family members who have lost everything because they lived in the affected areas. They need NPH’s support in the shape of food, shelter and water. Your donations will help to cover the basic needs of at least 15 families.

Follow-up impact measurement

All money donated to NPH Ireland will go to support people affected by the earthquake. NPH will be doing follow-up studies to establish the benefit to affected people of our work.

Challenging conditions for aid delivery

Conditions could scarcely be more difficult for delivering aid: shortage of supplies, damaged roads, control of some areas by armed gangs, difficulties of coordinating international aid, lack of qualified personnel and ongoing violations of children’s human rights, etc.

NPH has the skills and experience

Thirty-five years of experience in Haiti, including with similar emergencies such as the 2010 earthquake, have given NPH the experience to give the benefit of your donations efficiently and effectively to those affected by the earthquake. An essential factor in our ability to deliver is our local team of Haitians, committed to the mission of NPH in their country.

Your role in this humanitarian drama

We need your support in the face of this overwhelming humanitarian drama, made worse by the tropical storms now making landfall in Haiti.

A chat with Darlene, champion equestrian

If you’ve been following life at the NPH Haiti Special Needs programmes for a while, the name Darlene Milord will be familiar.

Darlene and her medals

Darlene grew up at NPH. She has hemiplegia, a neurological condition that affects strength and control in the right side of her body. She lives at NPH Special Needs in Haiti.

That didn’t stop her winning a gold medal for equestrianism at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

We thought you might like to hear about Darlene’s life as an equestrian in her own words.

How has horse-riding changed your life? 

I feel great when I horse-ride. Riding has given me confidence and the possibility to do more than I ever dreamed. I have new friends from many countries. When the school children at Kay Ste Germaine Special Needs School go riding, I teach them skills such as how to speak to the horses and touch them and how to sit and hold the reins correctly.

Where have you travelled for events?

Thanks to my training in horse-riding at Centre Equestre Chateaublond in Haiti, I have travelled to Denmark, Abu Dhabi, and to Florida many times to compete at the West Palm Beach Special Olympics event.

What competitions have you won and which awards have you received?

In 2009 I received the FEI Award for Rider Against All Odds. At the West Palm Beach Special Olympics annual event, I have won many ribbons over the years, this event helped me to prepare for competing at the Special Olympics World Games. 

A special moment during the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi?

I felt so proud when I won my first Gold medal at the Games. Everyone was congratulating me and I was so happy too for those who travelled to see me compete, and for my coach. 

What are your hopes for Orlando 2022?

I would like to see many more Haitians with special needs competing at the games in Orlando. For myself, I hope to win more gold medals and inspire more Haitian girls to try sport and to do their best. 

What training do you do?

As a classroom assistant I participate in the physical education lessons with my students, I walk and do exercises in the evenings, and I go horse-riding once per week. I like to dance, which helps to keep me fit too. 

How about your role as the Athlete Representative on the Board of Special Olympics Haiti?

I am the voice of the athletes, I try to encourage them to do their best, and I appear on TV and Radio to speak about Special Olympics and the importance of participation and accessibility.

Over to you

We hope you enjoyed Darlene’s story of accomplishment in the face of adversity.

You can support the NPH Haiti Special Needs Programmes and make a loved one happy at the same time. Order some of our handcrafted greetings cards and you’ll keep the smiles on our residents’ faces.

International Women’s Day 2021

Happy International Women’s Day Everyone!

8 March is International Women’s Day. We’re a long way from a gender-equal world, but we’d like to offer you something positive to mark the occasion.

Please enjoy and share our short slideshow of the wonderful women and girls at NPH Haiti Special Needs.


Find out more at the International Women’s Day website.

If you don’t know about NPH Haiti Special Needs, here’s the full, amazing story.

We’re committed to gender equality throughout NPH, so a donation to NPH is a contribution to a more gender-equal future. All contributions are put to good use and are gratefully received by your NPH family.

Gender Equality is No. 5 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Defying danger to support Special Needs

A craftswoman supporting NPH

Despite having been mugged at gunpoint for the sake of US$1 – the cost of getting to and from work – Rose* will not be deterred from coming to work at Kay Ste Germaine.

Portrait of Rose

She and a group of other mothers brave the perils of Haiti’s streets to make cards and jewelry for sale to benefit the NPH Haiti Special Needs programmes.

All of them have a story to tell of their ties to NPH. This is Rose’s.

Needs beyond the family’s means

In late 2017, Rose’s son Jean* contracted Guillain Barre Syndrome, which can result in total paralysis. For Rose, who had already lost her husband in the 2010 earthquake, this was a heavy blow.

He required an MRI and a long hospital stay. The medication for this disease is not available in Haiti. Fortunately a U.S. group coming into the country that week, they brought a dose of it with them.

Obviously all of this would be so far out of reach of this family were they not involved with NPH’s programme. While he was in hospital and declining rapidly, family members encouraged Rose to take him to see a witch doctor in the community.  Had he done so, he would not have received the medication he needed and would not have survived.

Disaster averted, a life saved

Thankfully after Gena had intervened, Rose did not take Jean out of the NPH hospital and he remained in the ICU receiving treatment. He survived but lost all strength from his neck down. He began attending our outpatient clinic immediately after his discharge from hospital. After some 18 months of therapy he was walking unaided. Since recovering he has become a father.

Supporting Special Needs out of gratitude

Rose said she felt the only reason the muggers did not shoot her was because she told them she was the carer of her disabled son. She loves her work – which is why she continues to come despite the dangers. She knows how lucky her son is to have been involved with our programmes and access medical care and physiotherapy.

One of the cards crafted by our team of mothers

Would you like to buy some cards and support Special Needs?

Rose and the other ladies do some amazing handicrafts to support Special Needs, including cards like the one above.

With the pandemic and restrictions on travel out of Haiti, NPH can’t spoil you with overnight deliveries like some companies. But we do have a delivery of cards already in Dublin, so drop us a line and we’ll happily put your name down for when they are available.

*Privacy note

Names, marked with an asterisk, have been changed to protect privacy.

Christmas fundraising success

Thank you for supporting our fundraiser!

So many of you joined in our Christmas fundraiser. You rallied round our invitation to decorate the Special Needs Christmas tree and gave a big, desperately needed boost to our funds.

Here’s Gena giving a short update on all the fun had at Kay Christine, thanks in large measure to your support.

Special Needs Christmas appeal

An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves

NPH Haiti Special Needs Christmas team

We have a special need for your support. Buy a decoration now! Go to our appeal.

An update on life in Haiti from Gena

This quote comes from an American woman called Lydia Maria Child. Child ranks among the most influential of 19th-century American women writers. She was renowned in her day as a tireless crusader for truth and justice and a champion of excluded groups in American society—especially Native Americans, slaves, and women.

I think this quote is very apt as I am about to appeal to all of you to make a big effort to help us in Haiti?.

Now believe me, I am very aware that life is not easy anywhere right now. The global pandemic has shaken the world to its core and continues to do so. All of you reading this have been affected one way or another during this time and most of you are probably totally fatigued by all the changes to your normal living. We all wonder when it might end, and I suppose everyone is also wondering how Christmas will be this year.

Here in Haiti we have been lucky in that for some reason, compared to other countries, we have not been hit badly by Covid 19. In our Special Needs Programs, we are back offering services. Our young students are coming to school – we had 70 yesterday. Our therapy patients – children and adults are coming for therapy. In our home Kay Christine, our residents are continuing their individual learning programs. So tis busy, busy.

So back to my quote from Lydia Child. As Christmas approaches we are hoping to entice you to make an extra special effort to help us out and we are going to make it fun for you to do so?.

First, let me tell you why I am making this appeal. Right now, we are in an awful situation because apart from all the usual challenges we face, we have two major problems with funding right now. One is directly related to the pandemic as our fundraisers in Europe and the US struggle to bring in funds. The other is due to political issues in Haiti. As you know, we do not receive any money from the Haitian Government. Therefore, we are dependent on overseas funding and our budgets are set in US dollars. This time last year, one US dollar gave you about 96 Haitian gourdes (local currency). Today it will get you 62 gds. You can see our problem. Throughout the year, we had huge inflation and the dollar went up to almost 120 gds. Cost of living was sky high and life impossible for most people. Then all of a sudden, with no explanation, the government injected money into the economy and the next thing the dollar dropped in value daily.

If this had translated into lower prices all round many would be delighted. But sadly, very few things have come down. We have huge shortfalls in our budgets. Our children’s hospital – the only children’s hospital in Haiti – is cutting services. The adult hospital – run by The St. Luke Foundation – is cutting services. These two hospitals save so many lives. They are providing invaluable services to the most vulnerable people in Haiti. Our special needs population depend on those hospitals. Our therapy children come via the children’s hospital. Our stroke patients come via the adult hospital. The residents in Kay Christine, where I live, are cared for in the adult hospital when they have health issues. Most of them came through the children’s hospital when they were small. Indeed most were abandoned in the children’s hospital. I get a sick feeling in my tummy when I consider the impact when services close in those hospitals. In fact, Sunday last, I rushed one of my girls to the adult hospital, as she became suddenly unwell. As she was being treated, I was shocked at how busy the emergency area was. Non-stop trauma cases. If that hospital was not there?? I would be in big trouble and so too would all those people that came that day.  And those that come every day.

What will happen if we cannot keep our Special Needs programs going?

So here is where you come in?. We know most people will decorate their houses for Christmas. Here our Kay Christmas family love to see the decorations go up. So here is how we hope you can help us. We have a nice big tree- made by a local welder. Our Special Needs family are going to make decorations for this tree- they have started already- from plastic bottles, cardboard etc. They are going to have great fun making them and want you to symbolically buy one of these decorations. When you donate for a decoration, we will put your decoration on the tree, as as we do so we will say a prayer for you. You can buy a small one or a bigger one. No donation is too small. I repeat no donation is too small. If you have kids, ask them to buy one – have them buy one for a euro or a dollar. We will be putting updates on our web page and our Facebook page so you will see the progress as we make the decorations. We have lots of arts and crafts materials here and lots of plastic waiting to be transformed. We will have lots of smiles and lots of fun. We are offering you the chance to have fun too. Join us. We are not asking you to go hungry. We are not asking you to go into debt. We are asking you to help save lives. Literally. We are asking you to look beyond yourselves and to help us save our programs. Tell your friends. The more people helping, the better for us. Lots of small donations means lots of small lives will be saved. Lots of big donations means that lots of small and big lives will be saved.

All of us here in Haiti have survived so many disasters: hurricanes, the earthquake, torrential flooding, violent political unrest, violent attacks, burning tyres, physical and verbal abuse – you name it, we have faced it. Right now things are very critical for us. The country is more unsafe now than ever, with armed gangs and bandits all over the place. Kidnappings are happening all the time and NO ONE feels safe. We have not had electricity in months, so we are totally reliant on our diesel generators. We run them sparingly. We are committed to what we are doing. We are made of strong stuff. We are people of hope and we do not give up easily. You have kept us going and kept us strong all these years. Please, please, help us get through this latest crisis.

We are determined. We know you will help us.

Mesi Davans- thanks in advance?



John Maughan