Summer Update

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Just like any family, the change from spring to summer is an exciting and busy time! We’ve had a very eventful season here at Father Wasson’s Angels of Light with graduations, baptisms, celebrations and the start of summer camp.

In addition to the St. Louis Home inauguration in April and the departure of Joanne Schipper in May, we had many celebrations this spring, including Flag day on May 18th and Mother’s Day on May 25th.  Flag Day is a big deal in Haiti and the children celebrated their Haitian pride with songs, and dances. On Mother’s Day, we took some time to honor and celebrate all the important people who play the role of Mother to all our children. From caregivers to god parents, this was a day to give thanks and honor the women who support this family.

The school year ended on June 20th and we had 66 proud graduates of our preschool and 76 proud graduates of our primary school. Eighteen of those graduates live here on our FWAL campus, nine children from Kay St. Anne and nine from Kay St. Louis and the rest of the students live with their families in the surrounding area. Graduation day is a very exciting day here. Students worked very hard to catch up and improve their studies as some did not attend school prior to coming to FWAL. The bright smiles are only a small indication of the pride they are able to take in their accomplishments as their hard work and persistence paid off. Luckily for us, graduation does not necessarily mean good bye. We will happily see 43 of the primary school graduates back on campus next fall where they will continue their education with the first two years of secondary school.

Saturday June 21, 2014, we had a wonderful ceremony to celebrate the baptism of 20 children. Nine were part of the St. Anne and St. Louis home and 11 other children from the neighboring areas were also invited to participate. The baptized was made possible by social assistance office, Mr. Jean Romain, Mr. Philippe, FWAL Director Kenson Kass and Reverend Fito. It was a great day for children specifically because this is a child’s first sacrament.

Just this past week, we kicked off another great summer camp program, thanks to our NPH fundraising office in Austria who has sponsored this yearly event for the past four years. The day starts with a signing program that can be heard all through the neighborhood and a prayer. Then the kids spilt up to take classes in drumming, dancing, drawing, music lessons, English, sewing, paper mâché, and lots of other arts and crafts. If you have the opportunity to come visit NPH Haiti and the FWAL program, be sure to ask to see all the beautiful drawings and crafts the children have made and are on display! Camp will continue through the middle of August. We have a great sports program with a group from Italy and a field trip at the end of the session to look forward to.

Summer has always been one of the most magical parts of childhood and that is true for the FWAL children as well. A lot of generous donations have gone into the planning and execution of all the wonderful summer events happening here. From all the staff, and children at FWAL we send a big thank you!!

Contributed by Shana Van Valkenburg

Thermoncy–A Dedicated Father

Thermocy

“My kids are my whole life,” says Thermoncy Dieusibon, father of two children living at the FWAL St. Louis home. “I would come see them everyday if I could.”

Thermoncy’s two children, Emi* 11-years old and Markens* 9-years old, have lived at FWAL since 2010. The children were in the care of their grandmother, who lives in close proximity to their father, but neither could provide the basic necessities of clean water, food, healthcare, education and adequate shelter. The strain was too much on the single father so Thermoncy began looking for a solution and was referred to the NPH Haiti Fr. Wasson Angels of Light program.

Though it was hard on him at first to have his children live in the care of strangers, Thermoncy was determined to meet and get to know the FWAL staff and to also maintain a consistent relationship with his children. His determination led him to return to FWAL every month for family day, where he could visit with the children for a few hours. He has been doing this for over four years now. Unfortunately the children have not had contact with their birth mother for over eight years, due to her abandoning them.

Markens and Emi in 2010

Markens and Emi in 2010

Both Emi and Markens have attended school since 2011, when FWAL began their makeshift elementary school out of tents and shipping containers. They also were fully vaccinated and receive yearly well-child check-ups.

FWAL recently completed the construction of eight children’s homes where the siblings now live. Previously they lived in retrofitted shipping containers and while construction was underway, the girls moved into the babies house and the boys lived in the school’s auditorium.

Thermoncy is very grateful for FWAL for providing his children with food, clothing and an education. “If I had a job or small business, I would be happy to have the kids back, though where we live is only a small room.” Before the 2010 earthquake, Thermoncy sold cell phones, which he enjoyed and would like to do again, but without a small loan, it is very difficult to start even a humble business. In the meantime, he is secure knowing his children are safe, well fed and are being educated, not just in academics but also in spiritual formation. Also according to our NPH Philosophy, each child has a chore or “job” to do every day, whether it be sweeping and mopping, washing dishes or cleaning up around the playground. The children learn to take on responsibility for their own home, to work together and to value the work of others.

Markens at FWAL school

Markens at FWAL school

We are thankful to be able to provide support and care for Emi and Markens. Their fate without FWAL’s intervention would most likely have been a very difficult childhood with little or no educational opportunities.  According to the United Nations World Food Programme (http://www.wfp.org/stories/haiti-10-hunger-facts)

  • Only 50 percent of Haiti population has access to safe drinking water.
  • Some 55 percent of Haiti’s 9 million people live below the poverty line of US$1 a day.
  • Chronic malnutrition affects 24 percent of children under five, rising as high as 40 percent in the poorest zones.

To learn more about NPH Haiti, sponsor a child, or donate, please visit: http://www.nph.org

*Names changed to protect privacy.

Contributed by Monica Gery, Dir. of Communication, NPH International

 

More Than A Blessing

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The New FWAL St. Louis Homes

On Saturday, April 26th, after more than four years of living in transitional housing, the Fr. Wasson Angels of Light (FWAL) St. Louis children moved into their new homes! The blessing and dedication of the eight homes, (four buildings) was commorated by Fr. Rick Frechette and Fr. Enzo Del Brocco.

“We are grateful for the NPH family, which is located around the world, and this blessing is a sign of working together in faith and providence to make a real home for the children of FWAL, ” explained NPH Haiti National Director, Fr. Rick Frechette.

Kenson Kaas, Director of FWAL and Alfonso Leon, Founder of FWAL also had encouraging words to give to the attendees. Alfonso explained, “It is not enough to be grateful, but to always remember to do good for those who are still in need.” Alfonso also reminded the attendees about how FWAL was named. He explained that after the earthquake it was a very dark and different time, and therefore the FWAL name came from the children who are the hope and light for the future.

Also in attendance were members of the NPH International board, Wolfgang Martinek (Austria), Claire Topp (USA), Armando Arteaga (Germany), Mary Sue Conaway (USA), Fernando Gres and his wife Ofelia (Mexico).

Project Coordinators from NPH Germany, Sonja Smolka and Cassagnol Destine, were present to give thanks to the German donors who made the St. Louis homes possible through their generous donation. Thank you to Bild hilft foundation, Sternstunden foundation and Muenstersche Kinderstiftung.

After the thank you’s were mentioned, the attendees, children and staff then made their way to each home as Fr. Enzo blessed each house inside and out with holy water. The FWAL children and youth then showcased their talents with dancing, drum playing and a speech read in English by a St. Louis youth who said, “Let me personally thank you on behalf of all of FWAL children, who have fought for the full success of this project. Thank you for sharing the love with us today.”

Fr. Rick also recognized Joanne Schipper, program coordinator from the Netherlands, who has been with FWAL for over four years. Fr Rick said, “We cover Joanne with our prayers and good wisdom and pray dear God, that you please send her back to us.” Though Joanne had decided to return home to the Netherlands, witnessing and participating in this day was the perfect conclusion to the years that she dedicated to the program.

With finally a home to call their own, the St. Louis children are tremendously grateful for their beautiful houses and look forward to the development of the rest of the complex. The main kitchen, clinic and offices are next on the construction schedule.

Contributed by Monica Gery, Director of Communications – NPH International