Google+ WTN Haiti Partnership: BIENVENUE A AYITI

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


      Every morning before school starts, the children gather in the courtyard at St. Vincent’s for the opening ceremony.  They sing a hymn, they recite the “Our Father”, and Jimmy, one of the blind students, plays the Haitian National Anthem on the accordion while the flag is raised.  The first morning after we arrived on our December 2009 trip, the children sang a song to us.  Bienvenue a Ayiti.  It was a charming welcome to our mission team.  Later that evening, during supper, my daughter Sienna burst into the dining room carrying one of her friends.  His face was covered with blood.  He had fallen and cut his forehead.  John Mutin and I have grown used to this sort of thing (see earlier story “BOO BOO BAG”) so John instantly grabbed the keys to the pharmacy and rushed out the door to gather supplies.  Amy Chanin, our physician’s assistant, ran to her room to get steri- strips (small surgical bandages) and some other team members went to the kitchen to get some ice.  Drew, our deacon, sat down next to the little boy and held his hand to comfort him while we washed the blood off his face and examined the wound.  It turned out to be a small cut, not too deep, easily repaired with the steri-strips rather than requiring sutures (thank goodness). 
      As we cleaned the wound and applied antiseptic, and then the steri-strips, we learned the child’s name was Frenel.  He was about 5 years old and blind.  He had calmed down quickly, despite all the adults running around.  He began to sing to us as we worked.  “Bienvenue a Ayiti” came out in his clear child’s voice.  He sat quite still as he sang, so it was easy to apply the bandages.  I wondered how many blind children would sit without struggling while strangers speaking a foreign language cleaned their wound with antiseptic. 
      The next morning, as the children sang the National Anthem during the school’s opening ceremony, I heard a clear strong voice singing louder than the others.  I looked across the courtyard and there was our friend Frenel, with the bandages on his forehead, singing heartily.  I wonder if he will grow up to be a singer someday.
Dr. Susan Nelson

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