Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Do you have a heart for Haiti?
Join The Diocese of West Tennessee for a unique opportunity to show your love to children with disabilities at St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. Hosted by Bishop Don Johnson and West Tennessee Haiti Partnership (WTHP), enjoy an evening of music, Haitian food and a live auction all in support of this exceptional community of children who are blind, deaf, and have other various disabilities.

Meet Father Frantz Cole, Priest in Charge at St. Vincent’s, and hear first-hand about the children who will directly benefit from your generous gifts. Hear from Dr. Susan Nelson (St. Mary's) and Medical Director of WTHP, as she shares about the essential medical care being provided during bi-annual mission trips. Finally, hear from Rev. Drew Woodruff (St. Mary's), Spiritual Leader of WTHP, about the impact we are making on these children’s lives and how we are, in turn, blessed by them. Learn how you can be a part of these life-changing ministries.

100% of the proceeds will go directly to the programs of WTHP, bringing medical teams, medicine, food, potable water and other essentials to St. Vincent’s. Visit for details about the artwork, speakers, and additional ways to support the ministry.

For The Love of Haiti 
A benefit for St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children

February 19, 2015 — 5:30 - 8:00pm
Church of the Holy Communion, Cheney Hall
4645 Walnut Grove Rd., Memphis

5:30 - 6:00 Live music & wine reception
6:00 - 7:00 Traditional Haitian meal and guest speakers
7:00 - 8:00 Live auction featuring original Haitian art and pieces created by the children

LIMITED TICKETS ON SALE NOW: $30.00 / person • $50 per couple • $250 / table of 8

UNABLE TO JOIN US? Make a donation at

FACEBOOK: For the Love of Haiti

Monday, January 4, 2016


The West Tennessee Haiti Partnership and Bishop Don Johnson announce an upcoming Diocesan-wide event being planned for the evening of Friday, February 19 at Church of the Holy Communion (4645 Walnut Grove Road) in Cheney Hall.  We will be hosting Father Frantz Cole with St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children, our partner in our Companion Diocesan relationship with Haiti.  Father Cole will share wonderful stories and photos of the school and children we serve along with Dr. Susan Nelson and the Rev. Drew Woodruff who lead our exciting mission trips. This evening will begin at 5:30 PM with a wine reception, dinner will follow from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Our special Haitian meal will cost $30.00 per person or $50 per couple. A table for 8 guests may be purchased for $250.There will be a live auction with plenty of Haiti artwork and souvenirs plus information for getting involved in this important ministry.  You may RSVP either to or 820-4438 and direct any questions to Ruthie Lentz ( or 278-5361), Liaison to the WTHP. Tickets are available online at

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Team Withdrawal

This morning I am back in Memphis, listening to Pandora on my ipad and sipping hot tea while my schnauzer Rosie lies snoring on the couch next to me.  Every few minutes I give her back a good scratch and she stretches in her sleep.  Three open suitcases lie on the floor around me, and I've started the first load of laundry.  That's as far as I've been able to get since I woke up 3 hours ago.  I told my husband I'm in "slow-mo".
Missing my team members.  We spend 7 intense days together, morning, noon and night.  We share coffee in the mornings, granola bars at lunch, spicy Haitian food and Prestige beers in the evenings. We pray together, get on the bus together, load and unload suitcases together.  We introduce each other to the new and old Haitian friends we've made,  struggling through french, Kreyol, and sign language.  We worry together about the St Vincents children we see who are sick, and remind each other who to check on next, who needs to go to the pharmacy, who hasnt seen the nurse yet.  At recess we blow bubbles with the children and in the afternoons we work on art projects together, smiling through our tears when the children prsent us proudly with the art pieces they make for us. At night on the roof of the guest house we tell each other stories of the day, stories of our lives.  Singing songs in the muggy night air, learning more about each other in a week than most people know about us at home.  All our imperfections come out in Haiti.  I like to say Haiti brings out the best and the worst in people, and we learn "forbearance against one another".  We all strive mightily to offer our best selves to the children while dealing with our own personal responses to the incredible contrast between our American lives and what we see around us in Haiti. Sharing heartbreak and joy.

So to John, Hilarie, Sherye, Tess, Alison, Claire, Brittany, Sonya, Dr Sue Trzynka, Chris, Debra, Jody, Daphne, Kristen, and Calley....there is a Haiti sized hole in my heart this AM and you are all there with me.

Susan and Sherye (aka Ethyl and Lucy)

Susan Nelson

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Man of Steel

  My friend John Mutin has been with me to Haiti so many times I have lost count.  During the first Thanksgiving dinner we had together after I started going to Haiti, I convinced him we needed his paramedic skills to help me take care of the children.  That was probably 2009? He is my first lieutenant, finding the power cord, the clean water, the keys to the clinic and pharmacy, plugging in fans, setting up clinic.  (where are the alcohol wipes, the stethoscopes, the otoscopes, the clinic cards, the hemocue (machine for checking blood), the glucometers?- John will find them)

  This week we had the CBU nursing team working with us, which was fabulous.  We saw over 200 patients in 4 days.   Every patient gets their "finger stuck" for a hemoglobin (iron count) and most of the adults get their glucose checked also.  So while each nurse saw about 30-40 patients each, John saw ALL OF THEM.  In the heat and what I call "clinic chaos",  being interrupted every 30 seconds by some team member to ask ," We  need more alcohol wipes/hand sanitizer/glucometer strips/gloves/tongue depressors, etc. etc. etc."  Team members would rotate out of their stations to take a break or get themselves a small snack, but not John.  He kept going like the energizer bunny.  He has done this trip after trip.  He does not complain and only cries if a kid breaks his heart, which is about 3 times a day!  So this trip I named him the Man of Steel and decided he needs a SUPERMAN shirt. 
John at work

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rollercoaster Day

Today we had so many emotional ups and downs.  Sonya asked Pere Fan Fan yesterday if she could buy a nice meal "with meat" for all the resident kids and staff at St Vincent's; this is about 70 people.  The kids normally don't eat meat more than once a week so this would be a special treat for them; also Sonya pointed out that eating dinner together is what you do with your family, so she wanted to have all of the team eat with the children.
We were very excited in anticipation of this, so imagine our frustration and disappointment when we were told this morning that the presidential election results would be announced today so we would have to leave the school in the early afternoon.  Many tears shed after breakfast this morning, but off we went to the school with plans to see as many kids as we could and hopefully spend some time with the children before having to leave.

Arriving at the school, I went straight to Pere Fan Fan's office to discuss the situation with him.  Turns out he was upstairs with what we call "Drew's kids", that is the most physically handicapped children in the school.  These children are wheelchair bound and unable to leave their dorm room by themselves, so often spend the day upstairs even when other activities are going on downstairs.  I was very pleased to learn that the new priest in charge of the school ( Pere Fan Fan), goes upstairs to check on these children regularly.  Marie Carmelle, the cook at the school and a longtime friend, told me that the children were all very nervous and tense when their beloved priest Pere Sadoni left the school suddenly this summer.  For about a month the children did not know Pere Fan Fan and were anxious.  After about a month, Marie Carmelle tells me, the children started to relax.  Pere Fan Fan shows affection for them and takes some of them to the park on Sunday nights for ice cream and other entertainment.  

So, finding him upstairs with the most severely handicapped children was a pleasant surprise. He told me the election results would not be announced until midnight tonight, so we could stay for dinner!  Sonya and I hugged each other in delight.

Alison and I and Calley (CBU nurse) checked on Margaret and Vundla and Matthieu.  Alison is a clinical neuropsychologist so was evaluating Vundla for developmental delay and neurological responses.  This sounds very technical and boring, but it really means laughing and singing and trying to get the kid's attention by being silly  (meanwhile monitoring their response).  

Claire with Vundla and Alison
So many emotions on the last day, thinking about things DONE AND LEFT UNDONE as we Episcopalians say in our Confession of Sin.  Have we remembered to give the prescription for cough syrup to the caregiver for Matthieu, who has a fever and a chest cold? Did I double check that we received all the medications we ordered and do we have a final inventory to leave with the priest when we leave?  Did we find the kid who came to clinic yesterday but left before he was fully examined?  Did we give a glucometer to the teacher with the 3 year old daughter with diabetes?  At the end of the day there was a run on glucometers.  I must try to write down all the promises I make to people to give them glucometers, because I always seem to come up one short.  Nothing like telling the music teacher that I gave the last glucometer away and I must wait until I return in March to bring him another one.  
Brittany and I try to give the teachers enough blood pressure and diabetes medicine to last until my next trip, because many of them will not be able to afford to buy their own medication.  If I can help these amazing people continue to care for the children of St Vincent's, I feel like I am contributing in a small way to keeping this school going.  

The art teacher had his students give each of us a colored drawing they have been working on since last week.  A gift for the visitors, he told us.  A treasure to take home. 

At 3:00 the priest told us they had decided to announce the results at 4:00 so we would have to leave early after all.  But the cooks had managed to prepare all the food early, so we had dinner with the children as we had hoped.  I must say it was the best fried grease I've had all week, with griot (fried pork), marinade (fried dumpling), french fries, fried plantains, and picliz  (Haitian spice cole slaw).  My best experience of the day was getting a plate for Rochelle, my blind friend, and holding her violin while she ate.  She played for us today and also played in the bell choir just before dinner was served. 

Rochelle plays in the bell choir.
Leaving is always hard, and this time was no different.  Some of the kids came on the bus to say goodbye, hugs and kisses and tears all around.  It has gotten easier every time for me because I know I am coming back; first timers like Hilarie find it very hard to drive away on the bus.  

Hilarie with a lapful of kids
So much else to say but sometimes photos say it best.  We are all exhausted after this week but happy to have been a part of these children's lives for a short time. 
Tess, Sherye and Brittany on the bus.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Deaf School in Leveque

Leaving CRP3 and Wes behind, our next stop was Leveque where Mission of Hope has built a school in the deaf community.  Many deaf people who survived the earthquake in 2010 apparently found their way to form a community together.  Sherye wanted to visit the school, where we learned about the Haitian government's ministry for Deaf Education and the Mwen Kapab ( I can) curriculum for the deaf.  Encouraging to hear about special programming for the handicapped.  The most exciting part of the visit, however, was the ride along the rocky road to the school.  Brittany said it felt like a DisneyWorld ride. I banged my head against the van door good and hard, and Sonya had the breath knocked out of her at one point.  Met by braying donkeys and bleating goats on the hilltop, we laughed and took pictures of the blue gray mountains and the turquoise ocean.  

We arrived back at St Vincent's at 1:00, after the nurses had finished clinic.  They saw over fifty kids today.  We plan to finish tomorrow and have time for the bell choir to perform for us and some of the students to play guitar or violin.  I'll close today's post with some photos.  Look for smiling Haitian children and sweating Americans!

Palm frond gate

Chris takes Professor's blood pressure.

Susan in clinic