In the midst of severe times in Haiti, St. Vincent's adult residents bring the brightness of their solidarity, working toward a better future. We have much good news to share!
First, the scholarship recipients who have been working from their home campus with a tutor have returned to school! Their high school year will be extended into the summer, to make up for lost time. It may seem odd that our young adults are still in high school, but due to these interruptions, many high schoolers may be 19 or 20 or older! The tutoring using brailleurs and specialized cell phones (funded by you!) has allowed our students to maintain their skills during the closure.
Second, the dream to start a vocational education program is taking root at St. Vincent’s! The adult residents, who have a variety of job skills and abilities, are ideally suited as coaches in a vocational program. For instance, a blind adult can best work with a blind young person who wants to learn to manage the sound system for a musical group; a deaf adult is best able to demonstrate to a young deaf person how to keep inventory on the computer; an adult who uses a wheelchair is the best guide for the trade (and art!) of wheelchair repair.
The adults have submitted a proposal to St. Vincent’s Center to implement a pilot program for graduates who prefer to learn a vocation rather than continue their formal education.
Members of St. Vincent’s Board have expressed interest in working with the adults to establish a variety of small businesses that can be the vehicles of vocational experience. Being considered are:
• sound system management for events
• computer skills for small business
• wheelchair repair
• solar panel assembly
• bicycle repair
In addition, St. Vincent’s small restaurant, Bar Resto, will be the ideal place for several kinds of learning, starting with culinary classes by Judith, our GlobalGiving funded chef!
The funds you have provided over the last quarter contributed to these miraculous accomplishments given the horrendous gang violence, basic resource scarcity, exorbitant inflation, and governmental paralysis. Our adult community continues to be a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of Haiti at this time. We thank you for contributing to this light.
The hearts and minds of our Haitian partners are resolutely preparing for a positive future! Despite the challenges Haitians have faced over the last three months, the handicapped members of our partner organization,CAHSAV, have faced those head and heart on and have accomplished much.
First, classes for our scholarship recipients continued online for several weeks in early September. When that was impossible due to the closure of schools, our students kept studying and reviewing lessons on their own with the help of a resident tutor and each other. Their brailleurs and specialized cell phones, purchased with GlobalGiving funds, allowed the blind students to practice reading and writing assignments.
Secondly, the dream of CAHSAV members to start a vocational education program has begun. A curriculum was developed that includes business management skills such as positive work ethic, practical mathematics, integrity, and creativity. A cooking course will include technical skills related to hygienic food preparation, safe handling of cooking tools and following recipes. The vocational education program is intended for not only CAHSAV members, but also students at the school co-located with the CAHSAV residence. One CAHSAV member completed a culinary class and provided proof that such training could be beneficial not only to her but to the entire CAHSAV community and the younger handicapped students.
Finally, despite the chaos of insecurity, sporadic water, and sporadic electricity impacting the life of CAHSAV and their supporters, a haven was built on their campus in which the students could practice their business and cooking skills. In July, a mini-restaurant named Bar Resto was constructed on the campus and over 50 primary school students attend classes. It offers a sanctuary of camaraderie and accomplishment for not only CAHSAV members who make the food offered, but for the primary school students, faculty and administrators to enjoy a safe space away from the insecurity happening outside.
The funds GlobalGiving has provided over the last quarter contributed to these miraculous accomplishments given the horrendous gang violence, basic resource scarcity, exorbitant inflation, and governmental paralysis. Our CAHSAV community continues being a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of Haiti at this time. We and CAHSAV thank you for contributing to this light.
Although life in Haiti has been excruciatingly difficult during the past quarter, the good work of our partner organization, CAHSAV (the adult residents of St. Vincent’s Center), has continued.
At St. Vincent’s Center, the primary and middle school day students have been unable to come to class due to the threat of gang violence as well as exorbitant costs for gas. The adults and residential children live on campus behind the security walls. The walls have been compromised in recent weeks by gangs, however, they have already been repaired to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Through it all, CAHSAV continues to actively contribute to St. Vincent’s by aiding the caregiving staff, comforting the younger children, and working with the administration on accounting and other duties. They raise the spirits of the staff whenever possible, including giving Mother’s Day gifts to the women who clean, cook, and care for the young children.
Even though most schools are closed in the Santos area, the adults continue to persue educational activities, including the students directly supported by this project who have low vision or blindness. They have been meeting with their tutor to further their studies and increase their proficiency using the braillers.
While waiting and watching for a better security situation, work is underway to start the first vocational training class at St. Vincent’s, taught by members of CAHSAV. Once school reopens, six middle school students will begin a semester-long internship at Bar Resto, the small restaurant that CAHSAV manages and operates on St. Vincent’s campus. Youngsters with blindness, deafness, or physical challenges will be shadowing the adults with disabilities during their daily activities:
Through this project, Friends of St. Vincent’s sends financial means to:
We are proud to be partners with this dynamic group of adults with disabilities who are staying the course, supporting the life within the institutional walls of St. Vincent’s Center. Better days are ahead for all of Haiti, and when the school reopens with a full program, CAHSAV will be ready.
Despite Haitians facing continued gang kidnappings and government instability, we are thrilled to report the SAFE DELIVERY OF THREE BRAILLERS for the blind adults your scholarships support! This good news helps us persevere throughout these tumultuous times.
A Long Journey
Getting the braillers to into the hands of these students was an arduous process. The 7-month journey began at Perkins School For the Blind in Massachusetts where the machines were shipped to a partner warehouse in Florida. The braillers remained there for months until a safe plan was established for transport to St. Vincent’s, afterwhich, they were successfully shipped to a port of entry in Haiti. Following negotiations at the port, the braillers were released to a St. Vincent’s representative and made their way to the adults.
The Braillers Impact
Braillers are like manual typewriters for blind students, allowing them to complete all in- and out-of-school assignments. Weighing 40-50 lbs each, it is not feasible to transport them back and forth to school, so all schoolwork must be done after hours at St. Vincent’s.
The processes used by these adults to continue their classical studies is fascinating! Each blind student brings a smartphone* to class where a sighted friend photographs the chalk board, books and all materials; they also record audio of the lectures. Back at St. Vincent’s, a sighted colleague reads the day’s lessons aloud as the blind student transcribes it into Braille using a brailler. Following the transcription, the student completes the day’s assignments. It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication for a blind student to get an education in Haiti. We are grateful for the scholarships you provide to make this a reality.
Update from St. Vincent’s
Finally, the Haitian Director of St. Vincent’s shared details of the state of the school and the local community in a recent email:
"Thank you for your support of all kinds and your determination in working to improve the situation of people with reduced mobility living in Haiti and to offer them a better future. The socio-political and economic situation of the country … are not favorable and does not inspire confidence, which has slowed us down. Haiti is at the polls of national and international newspapers and media because of the phenomenon of kidnapping and news of assassinations of people, especially in the capital and surrounding areas. This alarming situation is not confined to a specific area but is becoming widespread and, in this sense, no one is immune. Despite this situation, we do not want to give up and let go … We cannot say considering the situation that we are operating at one hundred percent of our capacities, but we are putting a lot of effort at all levels.”
We are grateful for your continued support and look forward to sharing the end-of-school educational accomplishments of our scholarship recipients.
*Smartphones are also donated by Friends of St. Vincent’s
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