Playtime Unplugged

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Many of us live in a world where technology is king. Kids have phones, ipads and movies in the car to keep them entertained. Play areas are dependent on batteries and electrical cords. The time before the world was plugged in was not that long ago. And here you can still find it.

When you watch the children of FWAL play, it’s amazing to see their creativity and ingenuity shine through.

Of course, soccer, jump roping and dancing are popular ways to pass an afternoon together for both boys and girls. However, you also see games and activities created out of nothing. Or taking something that no longer serves its original purpose and making into another game.

Fun is found in chores when soapy water can make bubbles.

A string and button used to make a spinning toy.

A whole new game can be created from half a deck of cards.

Pebbles are not hard to find here and they can easily be used for fine-tuning your juggling skills.

A single balloon can entertain a group for an entire hour, with the rules changing as the group grows.

Past times are a little simpler and require less materials, but are no less fun.

H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y!!

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There’s a very catching birthday song in Haiti that starts by spelling out Happy Birthday followed up with a big BON FET! It’s the kind of song that can get stuck in your head for hours, days, weeks! It’s a great song because it reminds you of the exciting, upbeat celebration that is a birthday!

At Fr. Wasson’s Angels of Light, we try to make every birthday a special day. At morning meeting, that day’s birthdays are announced and everyone sings Joyeux Anniversaire (Happy Birthday!).

The coordinator for the homes, Met Phillippe works hard to ensure there is always a small gift for the kids on their birthdays. Something fun and extra, like a ball, pencil case, craft supplies, stickers, a little toy and usually some candies too!!

The older kids in the St. Louis House take a trip every month or two to celebrate with the children who had birthdays in the corresponding month. Organized by the sponsorship department, they celebrate with their brothers and sisters from St. Helene with a trip to a National Museum featuring Haitian history and Haitian Independence. They have some pretty interesting history aspects and artifacts and a whole section dedicated to current Haitian Artists.

After the museum, the kids head up to a restaurant for a nice meal of chicken with rice and beans. It’s a very special treat for the kids who love this meal and even get two pieces of chicken each.

Of course, all of this is followed up by CAKE! Delicious cake for everyone. Food is clearly they way to every child’s heart. When asked about their favorite parts of the trip, the answers were always chicken and cake!

The children of St. Anne are a little young to be going on this trip, so they throw a birthday party at the house for the birthday boys and girls. With Tampico (a favorite sweet drink here), chips, cake, and of course dancing, the kids have a great time celebrating!

Birthdays are such a wonderful time to celebrate the past year of accomplishments and to look forward to the beautiful future each child has ahead of them.

FWAL Children Visit St. Damien Pediatric Hospital

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On February 15th while celebrating our Sunday mass with the children of Father Wasson’s Angels of Light and the teenagers of the Don Bosco program, we had some very special guests. With the help of volunteers, the children who reside in the hospital, having been abandoned because of their ailments, honored us with their presence. It was a true blessing to be able to see all the children of our programs blend together and participate in worshiping and honoring God as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Gospel reading told the story of Jesus Healing the Leper. The passage narrates Jesus’ compassionate actions as he meets and heals this leper who is considered practically dead by the law. The law forces this leper to live away from others, isolating him and preventing him from communicating with the world. The leper was not able to touch anyone, and when he walked the streets he would have to shout unclean to insure others did not even accidentally touch him. His sickness meant he could not even enter the temple, therefor even God was considered inaccessible to him!

Jesus knowing these barriers created by the law decides to turn the whole system upside-down. Jesus, full of compassion, enters into the world of the Leper. He feels the Leper’s pain, his isolation, loneliness, and suffering. Jesus reaches out and touches the leper. He breaks the law, he risks the threat of infection, and contaminates himself if not physically, definitely spiritually. His act of touching the Leper meant under the current law that Jesus was ritually impure, and should be excluded from participating in worship. This exclusion is the price Jesus pays to save the excluded from deadly loneliness.

Charity is not unblemished, it requires the one giving to get their hands dirty, to contaminate themselves. In this story the person who should no longer be touched is touched by Jesus and this contact communicates not just the underlying message of Christ but also the way in which He loves. Jesus is present in the world and can feel and interact with us as humans even though he is also fully divine. The direct consequence of touching the leper is coincidentally isolation (cf. Mark 1:45), after the healing Jesus is forced to live in the desert outside the town. This similarly reflects how Jesus will have to be separated and suffer with his Passion and death in order to heal and save. Jesus takes upon himself the suffering of others and endures their pain thus truly fulfilling the role of the Suffering Servant, taking on our diseases, infirmities, sin, and the consequences of them.

Inspired by this Gospel Passage and touched by the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, after mass all in attendance visited the sick and infirmed in the NPH St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. There was praying and singing as these children entered into the suffering of others and touched them in order to have Christ’s love be shown through them. It was truly awesome!

Contributed by Fr. Enzo Del Brocco

Special Needs Children Find a New Home

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Recently NPH Haiti’s family got a little bit bigger. In line with our mission to nurture orphaned and vulnerable children in a loving, stable, and secure family environment, the Father Wasson’s Angels of Light (FWAL) program opened it’s doors to receive a group of eleven children with disabilities. These children came under the care of NPH through the St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. Through events leading up to their admittance, or while being treated, all of these children were abandoned by their families or caregivers. Many of these children have histories of seizures, malnutrition, and other neurological disorders.

The children moved into the St. Anne home of FWAL on March 8, 2015. Father Enzo del Brocco celebrated mass with the entire St. Anne and St. Louis home present. Father Enzo blessed and prayed over the children. Many guests from Italy, Spain, Germany and United States, along with the administration staff from FWAL and some Don Bosco students were in attendance to participate in this wonderful ceremony. FWAL Director, Kenson Kaas, said that these children will always have a home at FWAL and that it is their hope and prayer to one day construct a specialized home for them, that will act as a long-term care facility for children with special needs.

Not only do these children have a new home, but they now can attend school at the NPH St. Germaine program, which is a school and rehab for children with special needs, right down the street.

A warm thank you to everyone who helped to make this possible.

Contributed by Denso Gay
Communication Officer, NPH Haiti

Dance, Dance, Dance!

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Carnival is a pretty big deal in Haiti. Not only do the celebrations leading up to Lent last for weeks, the three main days of Carnival are national holidays. Schools, banks, business all shut down to let the celebrations continue.

At FWAL, we took advantage of that time to revel with several different celebrations. Don’t worry, all the celebrations included costumes, face paint, masks, noise makers, and the best part: glitter and dancing!

The Kinder school held a parade with “floats” and had a big costumed dance party for all the kids! The kids were dressed up with tons of accessories like hats, masks, face paint and glitter! They had a great time dancing and celebrating at school.

Our older internal FWAL children had the exciting privilege to go on an outing to see the carnival stands at Champ de Mars. Sunday afternoon, before the festivities officially began, forty five of our teenagers traveled with their caregivers and volunteers to take in the sights and sounds of the Carnival. They saw all the stands sets up and people getting ready for the evening’s big party. They saw the floats being prepared, dances being rehearsed and took in the general beauty and energy of the upcoming celebration.

Both Monday and Tuesday the children at St. Louis had BIG, BIG dance parties. The oldest at St. Anne joined on Monday to make the festivities even better. Those little ones can really bust a move thanks to all the caregivers at St. Anne who throw mini dance parties on a regular basis.

Once everyone had the appropriate amount of glitter and face paint, the dancing began! Each house got to lead the defiles (a parade of dancers) to a song and they all picked great and inventive moves to have the other houses follow up on. It was a lot of fun, and a solid few hours of high energy dancing. On the second night we had a dance off between the boys and girls. The young ladies brought out their best moves and won the competition … sorry boys!!

After a few days, of lots of celebrating, lots of memories and probably a few more weeks of finding glitter in hair and on clothes, a great time was had by all!

FWAL Loves Visitors!

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At FWAL, we are very lucky to have people from around the world come visit us. Some are coming to Haiti just to see us, and some are coming to work at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital or at St. Luke, but take time from their day to come visit and play. Sometimes it’s big groups and sometimes just one person, but it’s always fun to meet new people.

Recently, we’ve been very fortunate to have a number of fun, creative, passionate and playful people stop by.

Our Italian office, the Francesca Rava Foundation, has sent lots of visitors through their camp programs, who took us to the beach and bring us toys and sport equipment. We always have a lot of fun with the big groups that come because they have great ideas for games and art projects!!

This fall a few women with the METI group from Boston Massachusetts, visited on their day off to play a few rounds of soccer, fell in love with FWAL and ending up spending all their spare time for the rest of the trip with us. They even started working on sponsorship paperwork before their trip was over!

Recently, a doctor working at St. Damien for a few weeks, came over to teach the older girls how to make decorative hair flowers. She brought fabric that matches our school uniform and taught the oldest girls how to make the hair clips. The class was such a success she left plenty of supplies for the girls to teach the younger girls at St. Louis.

And while it’s always great to meet new people, some of the best visitors are the ones we already know. This year a few former volunteers come back to see us. It’s so nice to catch up whether it’s been years or just months. Big thanks to Sr. Kathleen, Dani and Avriel for making time to visit FWAL.

These are just some of the wonderful visitors we’d had at FWAL. We are so grateful to the people who generously bring toys and activities, but more importantly guests are the best when they are able to share themselves, their time, have a chat, teach a song or play a game.

Thank you to all visitors we’ve had, we hope to see you again soon!

Much Love,

FWAL