Remembering Emily and Ricardo

Emily and her mom at Kay St. Germaine in TabarreOn June the 25th the world was shocked with the news that Michael Jackson had died. On the same day Farah Fawcett died and the world of entertainment, paid homage to these two entertainers that had brought a lot of joy to the lives of people all around the world. On Friday as the world cried for Michael Jackson, a little girl called Emily, left this life and in our rehab center Kay Ste. Germaine, and our world cried for Emily.

Emily first came to us four years ago and at that stage she was a very fragile little girl. Meningitis had left her brain damaged and Poverty was determined to give her to Death at the earliest possible time. Let no one ever underestimate the power of Poverty! Death has long been pronounced our enemy but our real enemy is Poverty!

So Emily came to us in a very fragile state and often we feared she would die. Her mother Dieusimose,– seen above with Emily-, a woman of amazing courage, was determined that her daughter would recover. Such determination – in the face of so many problems! For four years Dieusimose brought Emily to our centre – day in and day out. For four years she struggled with the Poverty and for four years she kept going. She gave one of her other children(Emily’s twin) up for adoption because she could not manage with three – she kept Emily and another little boy. We would give her the money to take the public transport to and from our centre and sometimes she would walk the last bit of the journey so she would save a little of the money. So she could fight Poverty! Oh God in heaven, why has Poverty such power in Haiti!

Emily started to grow and Emily started to put on weight. Emily started to breathe better. Emily started to look more alive and Dieusimose continued to tell everyone that her child was better and that one day she would walk. She had renamed her child Laza (Lazerus) because she had “come back from the dead.”

Death – walks side by side with us every day, silently watching us, silently sharing our lives and silently waiting for its moment. Silently waiting to makes his presence felt in our lives. And so it was that Death came and took Emily from Dieusimose while Dieusimose was feeding her. Years of fighting, years of courage, years of hope – all powerless to stop the inevitable! Sometimes Death gives you a hint, like a phone call that soon he will visit. In this case we got no such warning! On the Thurs. Emily was standing in her standing frame and Dieusimose was pushing her around the centre, proud that her daughter was getting close to the day that she would walk by herself. Friday morning 10am she was already lying dead in her Mothers arms. It seems she died from aspiration – the milk she was drinking went into her lungs and her mother did not realize this. Emily was five years of age.

The following Monday, in our program in Petionville, I held and played with Ricardo.

Ricardo

Ricardo

Ricardo has been coming to us since Jan. 2006. Ricardo also suffered from meningitis and when he first came to us he had great difficulty breathing. Over the years his breathing improved and he soon became a favourite with all the ladies! His mother Kettline, never despaired and always brought him for therapy. He never gained much weight despite our best efforts but he was always a happy fella and always quick with his beautiful smile. He was always well dressed – snazzy shirts and snazzy boots! He was always ready for a kiss and a cuddle and his little eyes would light up when he saw you coming!

He came to our clinic on Monday the 29th and he was his usual smiley self. I thought he looked very thin but his breathing was good and he enjoyed to be held and made a fuss of! The following day his mother phoned me to tell me that he had died that morning. Just like that. She fed him and felt he was not interested in eating so she put him to bed as she thought he was asleep. Later when she went to check on him she did not like how she saw him so she called a neighbor. He was already dead and indeed it seems like he had died in her arms, when she thought he was asleep.

Emily and Ricardo – not household names like Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett but two very very special children! Two victims of Meningitis, two children deprived of a childhood they deserved. Two children born into a Haiti that offers little to those that are different. Two fighters that were determined to live and that fought off death on many occasions. Emily and Ricardo – in the eyes of many they were “not real” because in Haiti many misunderstand, and undervalue special needs kids. Many people encouraged their mothers to abandon them but these mothers were just as determined as their children and they gave all their energy to seek a better life for the kids. Both kids had beautiful loving mothers and both kids knew what it meant to be cherished and loved. What now for these mothers? Sad faces, sleepless nights, arms that ache to wrap around little bodies! A resigned acceptance.

What for us that have known and loved the kids in our programs for the past few years? We are sad and we miss them. We are thankful that we had a chance to know and love them and we thank God for bringing them to us. May they run and jump in eternal joy and laughter!

Emily and Ricardo

Two kids, two lives,

Lifeless bodies, heart wrenching cries,

Years of struggling, fighting death,

All over now, one final breath.

Two kids, two lives,

Weakened mothers, so many why’s.

No warning, no sign,

In loving arms, one last time.

Two kids, two lives,

Tiny coffins, closed eyes,

Young bodies, laid to rest,

Grieving mothers, did their best.

Two kids, two lives,

Funerals over, countless sighs,

Empty arms, hang loose,

Overwhelming grief, tightens its noose.

Emily, Ricardo- to God they went,

Dieusimose and Ketteline – energies spent.

Life goes on but the tears still fall,

In the quiet of the night, to God they call!

Two kids, two lives,

A better place, loosens all ties.

Liberated bodies, enjoy new space,

In the hands of the Lord, they dance with grace.

Gena Heraty

July 09

Kay Germaine Children travel to Miami for Special Olympics Equestrian Competition

 

Polento on his horse

Polento on his horse

Hello!  As most of you know by now, I was recently in Florida (Wellington area) with five of the kids for the Special Olympics Equestrian Event. Darlene, Xiomala, Polento were the three kids fromKenscoff and then we had Stephano and Marvens from Kay Eliane and Kay Germaine respectfully. Once again our kids did a super job. They were each in two competitions and in each competition there were usually five riders in total. Here is how they did

 

Darlene: Dressage : Second place; Poles: Third place – her bag leg came out of the stirrup and so she lost points – otherwise she was perfect                  

Xiomala: Dressage : Second place;  Poles : First place

Polento:   Dressage: Second place;  Poles : First place

Consider that the commands for the dressage were in English and you can see that the kids did very very well as this did confuse them a bit! The poles was easy for them because they have been practicing weekly for this.  Stephano and Marvens were in more simple competitions and they also did very well. Little Marvens was very excited as his horse was trotting along and he was happily bobbing along too. He got 2nd place in a little obstacle competion and a third place in the dressage. Stephano got a first inhis obstactle course and a second in the dressage.

The kids were fantastic ambassadors for Haiti and they won the hearts of everyone there. Polento was a little bit indisiplined compared to the others and we threatened to tell Caterina about him!! But really he was ok and he just needs a lot of structure so he can concentrate on what he is doing as his tendency is to get distracted easily.  I was very proud of our group – not because they did so well in the competition because that really did not matter to me. I was proud of them because they embraced this experience and everyone they met, with big smiles, big open hearts and a confidence that was inspiring to see.(Polento and Stephano said hello to EVERYONE that was n front of them -did not matter if we knew them or not!!) Nothing phased them.(on a trip to Lion Safari, Marvens commented that “the lions could jump on him and eat them if they got out!) They loved it all, they enjoyed it all and then when the time came to return home they were as happy as whenthey were leaving. I think these kids have the right attitude : live in the present tense, enjoy life and keep going forward.

I am very grateful to the trainers Ti Pap and Guerdes (they travelled with us), to Carmelle and Ollando who were also with us and who were fantastic witht he kids. To Madame Romy, the lady who makes it possible for us to travel to the US and who takes care of us while we are there and who tells the whole horse world about the special riders from Haiti. I am grateful to Mme. Durocher(and her staff at Chateaublond) who allows us to come to her stables each week and who is so good to us. To Ferel and Mme Cienne who always do their utmost to ensure we have transport for all the kids each week.To Sociale who helped us get all the paperwork together so we could travel. And last but by no means least, to all in NPH,and all NPFS Haiti that work very hard every day to ensure that we have this great organization called NPH to do wonderful things with such wonderful children.

Next on the agenda is a trip to Germany at the end of July for one week. There is a BIG event called German Friendship and kids will be there from all over the world.I will go with two kids from Haiti – most likely Darlene and Polento! More about this when I know more about it and it is happening thanks to Mme. Romy as she is the lady with the connections in the horse world!

Please click here to see our photos.

Love, Gena Heragty, Director Kay Germaine Programs

Opening Day for the Kay Germaine Therapy Pool

She could not get enough splashing!

She could not get enough splashing!

Most children the world over get excited for any time they can spend in a swimming pool, a sprinkler, a fire hydrant showering water, a simple bucket of water, or basically anything that will allow them to play in water and cool off during the hot season.  The children who attend our Kay Germaine programs in Tabarre are no exception.  And the children had a special treat the day the Therapy Pool opened!

This boy could have stayed in the water all day!

This boy could have stayed in the water all day!

Gena Heragty, Director of Kay Germaine, several teachers, staff and volunteers had the pleasure of putting on swimsuits to take the children in the therapy pool for the first time.  We had several children who were more than happy to help put on their floaties and inner tubes and jump right in the water.  There were some children who had never been in a pool before and this was surely a joyous day for them.

Photos from our first day of swimming can be found here: Fun in the sun

At Kay Germaine we offer physical therapy programs and a day program for special needs children.  The younger children are able to go to school in a classroom setting and older children attend a program which offers workshops.  The children in the workshops are learning how to make paper flowers, peanut butter and jewelry.  We will soon be starting a feeding program that will encourage those children who are able to feed themselves.

I love the water!

I love the water!

Kay Germaine also offers a  micro credit program for the mothers of the special needs children.  This program provides the mothers a way to earn a living while their children attend physical therapy, school or the workshops.  This affords the mothers a positive sense of self because they are not only coming to Kay Germaine for their children but they are also helping to provide for their entire families while their children are well cared for.