Writing His First Words
Writing His First Words 2
Writing His First Words 3
Writing His First Words 4

Writing His First Words

Stevenson, 7, Haiti

Our homes have been a safe haven for the displaced children from Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010. Many of the grown children of St. Helene, our home in Kenscoff, Haiti, now work as caregivers and teachers for the new generation of NPH children.

Stevenson came to live at our St. Louis home in July 2010. Stevenson’s five brothers live with their father in City Soleil, which is one of the worst slums in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Stevenson's mother died in 2006. After the 2010 earthquake, it was especially difficult for Stevenson’s father to take care of all the children so he asked FWAL to take in Stevenson due to his special needs.

Stevenson has been diagnosed with ocular muscle atrophy; a condition where his eye muscles cannot move his eye around and his pupils have difficultly dilating. As a result, Stevenson can hardly see. When he arrived at the FWAL home, Stevenson first attended the onsite primary school, but it soon became very clear that this was not the best place for him to learn. He needed special education with a focus on learning with a visual disability. Stevenson now attends a blind and visually impaired school in Port-au-Prince. The school fees are $150 per year and $10 monthly.

The general educational system in Haiti is focused on classical learning by repetition. Most classrooms have a high student to teacher ratio, and this is no different in special need schools. Although the student class size is smaller at Stevenson’s school, there is hardly time for the teachers to give Stevenson a lot of individual attention.

At the FWAL St. Louis home, Stevenson tends to play very close to the clinic where someone is close to help him and also because Miss Bridget, FWAL’s volunteer nurse from the US, works there. Stevenson and Miss Bridget have a special relationship. Not only because she often brings in sweets, but because she is kind, gentle, fun, serious, and dependable all at the same time!

After Stevenson enrolled in the school for the visually impaired, there was hardly any improvement in his reading abilities. Miss Bridget decided that she would make it her special task to teach Stevenson his alphabet. Every afternoon when he returned from school, they learned two new letters. Miss Bridget wrote them down very large on a big piece of paper and they would go over and over the two letters, until Stevenson knew them.

You would imagine that any child would be exhausted after a long day, but not Stevenson. He was so eager to learn. He clapped his hands and jumped for joy while calling her name and telling her that he was ready for the next set of letters. In no time, Stevenson knew a lot of letters, and each time he learned more letters he was able to write more words.