December 3, 2008 was a day of joyous celebration for us at NPFS as we inaugurated Kay Ste. Germaine on the hospital grounds in Tabarre! We had many, many guests: parents and families of the children in our programs, a large group of friends who came from Italy with Mariavittoria and the Fondazione Francesca Rava – N.P.H. Italy, several friends from Hollywood, friends from our offices in the US and Europe and other NPH homes, many news reporters and journalists and lots of friends and neighbors in Haiti. The children were so happy to see what a big event this day was!
Continuing the dream of Kay Christine at our orphanage in Kenscoff and Kay Eliane at our facility in Petionville, Kay Ste. Germaine was born from Gena Heragty’s vision to support the families of special needs children in Haiti. Many people in Haiti do not receive the basic rights that everyone deserves – respect, love, medical care, education and affection. Many children are humiliated because they are “handicapped” – because they are different. Their families are often humiliated because they seek to keep their children and take care of them. They struggle to take care of their children and they endure great sacrifices in order to keep the children with them. Our work in the Kay Ste. Germaine programs is an effort to support the families of special needs children so they do not have to abandon them. We want to make a difference in the lives of these children. We want to provide services they need so that each child can live to his or her own individual capacity. If we help the families to take care of their children then everyone benefits.
Archibishop Miot celebrated the beautiful mass along with concelebrants Fr. Rick Frechette and Fr. Julien Estiverne. Children from each of the Kay Ste. Germaine programs offered the gifts during mass including a wheelchair and various therapy items used within our programs.
After the mass, Phadoul Amisial read a letter to all of the attendees from the Apostolic Nuncio of Haiti offering congratulations and blessings from Pope Benedict XVI.
Gena also spoke to the guests about the programs of Kay Ste. Germaine. Because we were having difficulty with the microphone, Gena shared the symbolism of this and that we all need to remember that the children we celebrated this day are searching for alternate ways to be heard as well.
Gena gave special mention to the wonderful women who run the programs of Kay Ste. Germaine. Finesse Fonfilus has been working with Gena since 1993 and is currently running the programs at Kay Germaine. Marie-Carmelle Devil has been working with us since 1996 and currently oversees the Kay Christine program in Kenscoff. Jeanne Juna Devil has been with us for two years and is currently managing the Kay Eliane program in Petionville. And Yolaine Etienne is running the school programs in Kay Eliane and Kay Germaine.
Before the song and dance program started Gena requested that all guests, “take the time to closely observe the children, to see how much time they put into their performances, to see how proud they are, to see how much they like to show off their talents, to feel the sense of community among everyone working and visiting with us and to realize the children are the ones that continue to bring us together as they daily reach out to us and touch the parts of us that probably no one else can reach.” Mothers sang to celebrate the children, children from St. Helene orphanage sang to celebrate their special needs brothers and sisters, and the children in the Kay Ste. Germaine programs sang and danced to celebrate each other! The program was full of music and singing and the children felt like stars among all the camera and videos!
The cameras were also on the children as our guests from Hollywood and Italy, including Paul and Deb Haggis, Madeline Stowe, Diane Lane, Josh Brolin, Maria Bello, Bryn Mooser, Jimmy John Louis, Michael Stahl David, Martina Colombari, Barbara Bruchfield, Gian Sarder, US Senator John Edwards, and Michele Farina each traced their hand and signed their names with various children from the Kay Ste. Germaine programs. This was great and made the children feel like real movie stars!
We are so very proud of the Kay Ste. Germaine programs, our staff and our children and look forward to following Gena’s vision and continuing to reach out to the many, many special needs children in Haiti who still need our help.