Residents and carers in Kay Christine

Today I want to tell you a little bit about the wonderful men and women that work as carers in Kay Christine. But first let me just give you a little insight into the Kay Christine family.

The residents

The Kay Christine family comprises 31 residents – 12 girls and 19 boys. The youngest is almost 11 and the oldest is 44.

The average age in the family is 27, so you see why I have to stop calling them kids! Of those 31 residents, 8 are in wheel chairs and are totally dependent- in other words they require carers to take care of all their basic needs. Another 9 are able to walk – some with limitations – but need full assistance with toileting and bathing. Of that 9, all have been taught to feed themselves but some need help with drinking.

The other 14 are able to take care of their basic needs by themselves, but a few need supervision. A total of 10 are non-verbal, 10 more have some limited language, are able to make themselves understood most of the time, but the average non Kay Christine member, would have great difficulty to understand them. 11 can speak clearly and 8 of those 11 can hold a conversation.

The carers

Now back to the carers. We have two different sets of carers- those that live in and those that come and go every day. Both groups work 7 days on and 7 days off. When Covid came we had to re-think things, and came up with this current schedule, which, thankfully, everyone loves!

Special Needs carers
Some of our carers getting in the Christmas mood

Those that come and go every day start in the morning at 6am and finish at 6pm with some breaks during the day.

Our routine

They come in the morning and and their main responsibility is the care of the more disabled dependent residents that sleep in one big dorm downstairs. They get everyone up, bathed, dressed and fed and then take care of house chores – making beds, cleaning, folding clothes, etc. During the day we have a total of 6 scheduled diaper/toileting changes(this includes the getting up and going to bed changes) and many unscheduled ones too depending on individual needs.

The team handles all those changes and all meals during the day right up until bed time. All those that need assistance are ready for bed by 6pm though they may not necessarily go to bed until 7. In Haiti, we all go to bed early and are up early, so this schedule works well for our family.

Night-time care

At 6pm we have 2 night ladies that come and they look after the more dependent residents during the night and they also get everything ready for morning bathing and breakfast. They work 6pm to 6am and have a 5 on 5 off schedule.

While they are not nurses, they have been trained to take very good care of everyone and they are adept at taking temperatures, changing the positions of those that cannot turn by themselves and making sure that everyone is comfortable and safe during the night. Many of our more dependent family members have issues with breathing, so we need to be very careful with them and how we position them.

We are very proud that we never have pressure sores in Kay Christine, and our staff are very aware of all the little gestures our non verbal residents make when they need to be changed or when they need to be turned. We have a nurse on site all the time. Whenever we have an issue the night staff come and get us – the nurse, the supervisor and myself – who sleep upstairs.

Our mobile people also sleep upstairs- we have 2 boys bedrooms and 2 girls bedrooms. In each of the boys room there is a male carer. These men live in for their week on and they take care of the boys/men in each room- three boys in each room plus one carer. The girls upstairs do not need a carer with them, though the nurse does sleep in one of the girls room.

Right beside Kay Christine there is another 2-story house. Downstairs in that house we have one carer and 6 our more able-bodied boys. They are pretty independent but do need guidance with most of the daily activities. Finally we have 2 people (1 man and 1 woman) that each have their own living space and own individual carer, as they can be very difficult and aggressive at times.

Strong personalities

So there you have it! The day is full on and as you can imagine, with all the different personalities, one needs to have a lot of patience- especially when the bigger personalities have disputes among themselves.

Challenges getting to work

Remember I told you the day carers come in at 6am. Well you should know that some of them leave their homes before 5 and walk for at least an hour up the mountain to get to us. Some others can take a motor taxi but more recently with the fuel crisis they also had to walk for well over an hour. No matter the weather, these ladies show up. They are truly fantastic. The staff that live in are equally fantastic. Some of them live in areas that are not at all safe so they frequently have to negotiate burning tyres and gun battles when they are coming and going to our home. Our staff have been with us for years. We joke among ourselves that we have grown up together, as most of them have been with us for over 15 years, and quite a few for over 20 years. What a blessing!

Honouring our staff

So, is it any wonder we want to honor our staff this Christmas? Without them, there would never be this great Kay Christine Family!

Support our Christmas appeal

Support our Christmas appeal and you’ll give a gift to each of our carers and make your contribution to the Special Needs funding for 2022. Thank you!

Gena Heraty, Director, NPH Haiti Special Needs

Why donate to NPH Haiti Special Needs?

Gena Heraty’s thoughts on why it makes sense for you to donate to Special Needs


I have been thinking about the question why is a donation to NPH the best thing to do with my quid. I guess it depends on how the person feels about giving money to charity and what expectation they have. I would tell the donor that any money given to me goes directly to sustain our programmes for children with special needs and to others in great need. Every single day we meet people desperate for help. Most are looking for work, all without fail have not eaten a meal that day and are lucky if they have eaten a decent meal the day before. If you happen to have money you will always find a way to help a little, while recognizing that the best you can do is just to pay for a few meals. We cannot create jobs for everyone tho God knows we try.

Our rehab program provides services to people that are rejected by society. In Haiti children with severe disabilities are seen as people to be abandoned as it is deemed a waste of money to do anything with them. Parents are humiliated when they are seen out and about with their kids. Our programmes not only provide valuable services to this population but we valorise them. Children that come to our school have been rejected by other schools and in our school they learn in a safe, clean, happy environment. We even have school buses on the road to pick them up and take them back home. When they are with us their parents can work and know their kids are in good hands. We provide excellent services. International experts are always amazed at how fast our stroke patients recover due to our excellent physical therapy that we have trained. Likewise, they are amazed at the quality of therapy and care given to the children coming to our programs.

When they visit our home in Kenscoff – where I live – they find a home oozing with love and joy despite so many challenges. We are a family here in Kay Christine. As I am writing this, Yvonne – our oldest resident – has come to sit next to me. She is just sitting quietly. She was found roaming the streets over 30 years ago, eating from the rubbish and not even able to explain anything about herself. Our youngest, Jackie has just finished bathing downstairs, and earlier, as I was looking at his happy smiling face, I was remembering how he was abandoned in the hospital after his mother died from Cholera. He himself also had cholera and was in near death. When he came to us, he was in a wheelchair and could not even stand up. Now he is well able to walk and is a very happy young man.

We have been here a long time now – since 1987 (I came in 1993). We have a proven track record and we are committed to those we share life with. We have battled one crisis after another and never faltered. We are a resurrection people. We are an Easter Sunday people. Every day we see the stations of the cross played out in the lives of so many people. Sometimes, all we can do is stand, like Mary at the foot of the cross, wonder why and still believe things will be better. With support we make things better. With support we become the resurrection.

Tell your friends I have a million reasons why sending money to us is a good bet. However, Haiti does have other good organizations doing great work. So back to the donor and their wishes. I am always happy when people support our work – we depend on this support. I am also always happy when people support other good organizations

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

A family devastated by the earthquake

Jean Max tells of his family’s suffering

Jean Max
Jean Max

Jean Max is a young radiologist, who studied medicine with financial support from NPH.

He was determined to help his country but he wanted to be well prepared to do so, and therefore chose to study at one of the few universities still standing in Port au Prince after the 2010 earthquake.

He’s been working for some years now at St. Damien Paediatric Hospital, providing assessments and diagnoses, especially in the area of maternity and gynaecology. He gets satisfaction from helping to improve lives in his country.

Jean Max has experienced first hand the suffering of many Haitians since the earthquake of 14 August, and the initial anguish of not knowing whether those of his family living in the South-West had were still alive, in the areas around Les Cayes and at Perenie in the countryside.

Everything lost

Jean Max's family home in ruins
Jean Max’s family home

The first news he received was that his aunt and uncle had lost their home and their lifetime belongings. Jean Max then heard that an uncle had died during the earthquake.

A gang blocks access

Some days later he decided to go to Perenie with a cousin and an uncle, to provide support to his family. However, they were unable to get there because of a gang controlling road access to Les Cayes, near Martissant. “They prevented us from getting through to the area affected, where my family lives, which was a real disaster for us”, says Jean Max.

After talking by phone they received photos showing that his family had lost everything: their home, garden, animals and personal belongings.

Ruined home of Jean Max's family
Jean Max’s family home

They need shelter from the tropical storms, bedding, a new home and everything to put their life back together. Emotionally they have suffered the loss of a loved one, and they will have to manage that loss as best they can during this humanitarian disaster.

Aid yet to arrive

Jean Max’s family live in the countryside, in the Perenie area, isolated from international aid, which is arriving chiefly at the large cities such as Jeremies and Les Cayes.

They hope that NPH Haiti can help them to overcome their tragic personal situation. NPH Haiti is evaluating the situation of dozens of families in similar circumstances to Jean Max’s family to see how they can deliver aid as swiftly as possible in such adverse conditions.

More than 1.5 million earthquake victims are experiencing similar dramatic situations and they are waiting for our support.

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.


John Maughan