Reginald’s Legacy Story, Part 1

Reginald’s Legacy Story, Part 1

Reginald had a hard start to his life. His mother died during labor and the doctors amputated Reginald’s left arm near the shoulder to get him out of the birth canal and save his life.  He was Photo of Reginaldborn prematurely and was small and had health problems. His challenges didn’t stop there. He was also very much alone. With his mother dead, no one in his family stepped up to care for him, or even visit him in the hospital. He was cared for by the hospital staff for several months. There was a woman who often came to the hospital to pray with the patients. After seeing little Reginald there on several of her visits, she began to ask about him. She saw this little baby for more than the disabled and abandoned child that he was. She saw something in him that made her see him as her son. Eventually the woman was able to take Reginald home. He lived with her for several years until tragedy came to little Reginald’s life again when his adoptive mother died. The woman’s neighbors loved Reginald, but none of them could care for him, so he was taken to the Haitian department of social services, who then brought Reginald to Wings of Hope. He was only five-years-old.

Reginald was a happy, adventurous, and energetic little boy. He blended in well to the Wings of Hope family. Because he was physically disabled since birth with the loss of his arm, Reginald learned to cope to be able to do everything he wanted and needed to do with one arm. He was always very independent and worked hard to make up for his missing arm.

“I loved living at Wings,” Reginald said. “I loved playing with cars and spending times with the people who would come to visit us. They would take us to eat at the Baptist Mission. That was fun.”

photo of reginald after his surgeryOne thing he couldn’t get past, however, was the pain that the amputation caused. Because the amputation was not done correctly, as Reginald grew, so did the part of the bone that was left in his upper arm. It protruded through the skin and would cause painful infections. If he bumped it or it got hit with a ball when he was playing, it hurt and tears would roll down his cheeks. Thanks to generous doctors and a hospital in the United States, when he was nine-years-old, Reginald went to the US for some life-changing surgery. The doctors fixed his amputation site so that it would stop hurting and be infection-free, allowing Reginald to run and play without pain.

 

 

Read Part 2 of Reginald’s Legacy Story.

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Welcome, Vilner!

Welcome, Vilner!

For several years Vilner attended classes at Wings of Hope as a day student. He lived in an orphanage near Wings of Hope when Wings was in Fermathe. That orphanage did not have any programs for kids with disabilities and Vilner flourished with the opportunities he received at Wings of Hope. When Wings moved to Jacmel the other orphanage recognized that Vilner would have many more opportunities living at Wings of Hope, so they transferred him to Wings. Vilner is now a full-time member of the Wings of Hope family. Vilner has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair. He also likes to get out of his chair and crawl. He has a speech problem and cannot speak clearly, but he has no problem communicating his needs and wants in other ways. He is a very intelligent, funny and personable young man. He loves to interact with the other kids and can often be found pushing a line of wheelchairs across the Wings courtyard. He likes to help the other kids any way he can.

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Delome – Small in Size, Big in Spirit

Delome – Small in Size, Big in Spirit

One of life’s greatest rewards for anyone who has spent time at Wings of Hope was to make Delome smile. His elusive smile was hard-earned, but when granted, it lit up the world. He was small in size, but he had a mighty heart and a powerful spirit.

Unfortunately for the world, on August 22. 2016, that smile faded away. Delome passed away that morning. He had been sick for several weeks. Despite medical care and the best efforts of the staff, his little body just had enough. The prayers that had been lifted by hundreds for his healing led not to his earthly healing, but allowed him to escape the pain and suffering on earth to become whole and happy in heaven.

Delome became a member of the Wings of Hope family in 2001. The staff didn’t know much about him, including his age. From his size and look they guessed he was about a year old. Over the years, Delome grew older, but didn’t grow much bigger. By the time he passed away, he was at least 16-years-old, but was the size of a typical-developing 18-month-old. He also suffered from other physical and mental challenges — mental retardation, physical disabilities, developmental delay, and vision and hearing difficulties. He was non-verbal, but expressed his feelings by grunting, making noises and crying.

Delome loved the sunshine and to sit in the sun. He loved to dance and play, and he loved to swing. Delome also loved the annual Wings of Hope beach trips. He became so relaxed as he drifted in the waves that he often fell asleep as he floated. Because of his size, Delome was often chosen to play Jesus in the annual nativity play that the Wings of Hope family puts on.

photo of delome as baby jesus in christmas pageant
What Delome loved the most was the one-on-one attention he received from his care-givers, visitors, and his fellow Wings family members. Delome loved to be held. Because of his size, people were drawn to him and to pick him up and cuddle with him. There are multitudes of visitors who have their own pictures of them holding Delome. Many have said his quiet presence deeply impacted their lives. Delome often rewarded this special attention with one of his elusive but award-winning smiles. For times when he was especially happy that smile was combined with a deep belly laugh.

photo of kc holding delome
While we will miss Delome’s smile and presence in our lives, we know he now joins the legion of Wings of Hope angels that watch over their brothers and sisters on earth.

photo collage of delome

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Extended Family

Extended Family

In June I had the chance to introduce my daughter to Haiti, and to the St. Joseph’s Family.  Having said that phrase so many times, the word “family” starts to simply become part of the name, but this visit once again reminded me of its true meaning.

The only thing about the trip that worried me a little was the airport arrival, as I had previously arrived with a group including old Haiti hands.  It can be a bit chaotic, and seeing my brother Walnes standing at the end of the gauntlet of tap-tap drivers awaiting our arrival made my morning.  He made us welcome at St. Joseph’s in so many ways.

Perhaps the highlight of our entire 10 day trip was the invitation he gave to visit his new house under construction in Peguyville, just a couple of miles from St. Joseph’s.  It was so delightful to meet his wife, brother-in-law, toy poodle (no kidding!) and especially his two children, the youngest asleep in her crib.  My daughter fell in love with his son, who followed us upstairs as we took a tour of the construction site and heard Walnes’ vision for the house and his studio.  It was the sort of “family visit” one can expect when you are welcomed into St. Joseph’s family.

— Mark

new home construction

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Exercise Fun!

Exercise Fun!

One of the women in our group brought a large aerobics / games mat with her to Wings of Hope, and it was put to use immediately! The idea is for each player to take a turn rolling two big foam dice. The number on the dice corresponds to a “station” on that mat, such as: push-ups, sit-ups, raising your arms or legs, etc.

Emmanuel, the teacher doing physical therapy, made it a point to include every child, regardless of their physical limitations. His patience and enthusiasm made this class not only beneficial for their health but so much fun.

Wheelchair, verbal or not, every child was able to participate and they loved it!

— Kim

Frank Ely doing situps

Josephine does situps

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Esther’s Smile

Esther’s Smile

Esther had the biggest and most enthusiastic smile you have ever seen. Her mouth wide open, the gap in her top teeth front-and-center, light shining from her eyes. She exuded pure joy from every pore. While she could not talk and her ability to move was severely limited, with her expressive face, captivating eyes, and especially that bright smile, Esther was able to connect with everyone she came in contact with.

13975281_10154459201376967_2893351396402283407_oThe world at Wings of Hope is a little less bright now because on August 11, 2016, we lost Esther, her joy and her bright smile. After 22 years of being such an important part of the Wings of Hope family, Esther went to her heavenly home. She had not been sick and her passing was unexpected. She simply just did not wake up that morning. She passed peacefully in her sleep.

Esther was an original member of the Wings of Hope family. She was part of the group at the orphanage that was taken over by the St. Joseph Family in 1994, which eventually became Wings of Hope. We never knew her history, or her exact age. The staff at Wings of Hope guessed she was about 8-years-old when Wings of Hope started, but she could have been older. Esther had decreased mental abilities. She also was severely physically disabled. She used a wheelchair because of deformities in her legs and feet, and had limited use of her arms and hands. She was unable to speak, but made noises to communicate. Esther also had some difficulties eating, so anyone who fed her had to have a lot of patience; but that patience was rewarded at every meal with extra time with Esther as she was fed each meal every day at Wings of Hope.

Despite her physical and mental limitations, Esther was a very happy person. She thrived on attention. Esther loved to laugh. and when she really got going she had a loud snort-laugh. She loved to be
13958174_10154459203391967_7558630163940832752_oinvolved in all the activities and life at Wings of Hope. She loved the Wings beach trips. One of the people who had been her beach trip partner on one trip shared the memory of her laughing so much as she floated in the ocean one hear that she repeatedly lost her breath. The weekly Wings water fights this summer quickly became one of her favorite activities. She loved being sprayed with water and playing and splashing with all the other kids and the staff and visitors. Her favorite toys were dolls and stuffed animals. She would cradle them in her arm, hugging them against her body with much joy.

While the Wings of Hope family is saddened and heart-broken with Esther‘s passing, we rejoice in the belief that Esther is now in a place that matches her unending joy. She is whole and laughing, swimming, and dancing, as she watches over her Wings of Hope family.

photo collage of Esther

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What makes St. Joseph’s so unique?

What makes St. Joseph’s so unique?

My daughter and I had the chance to spend 10 days in Haiti in June, along with a group from another Haiti non-profit.  During our trip, we stayed in three guesthouses in Port-au-Prince, and it reminded me why St. Joseph’s Guesthouse in Petionville is the best.  Seeing Walnes at the airport awaiting our arrival began the hospitality. It continues once the gate opens and you’re greeted by a pitcher of ice water and glasses, and it doesn’t end till you are delivered safely at your next destination.

The spacious rooms, the bookshelf in case you forgot a book, the amazing breakfasts with fresh mango and Haitian coffee, the gourmet dinners, and the chance to see old friends and meet new ones — all make St. Joseph’s uniquely special. During this visit, however, my favorite feature is the remarkable view from the lounge atop the new building because it allowed me to show my daughter the entire city in one view.

photo of rooftop at st. jospehs

We had just arrived after a long day traveling, starting at 3 am, and it gave us the chance to see the city’s life unfold below us.  We watched folks doing laundry, chatting with friends, going shopping, flying kites, and chasing chickens. This panoramic view helped us understand we’d entered a new world, both exotic and yet so familiar.  It is unforgettable, and yet available each time I return.

— Mark

Sunset at St. Joe's

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New teachers at Wings!

New teachers at Wings!

The move to Jacmel has been such a long wait, and such a beautiful ending! Moving the facility to a location hours away meant having to leave some of the staff behind, but now there are many, many new teachers for the Wings of Hope students! These teachers are clearly excited and very eager to learn how to better serve their students with such a variety of mental and physical exceptionalities. Having received training from visiting teacher groups, they’re armed with a plethora of new information and pounds and pounds of school supplies! Seeing how deeply the new teachers already care is a wonderful testament to the community that the Wings of Hope residents have created for themselves.

— Kim

photo of new staff at wings

new wings staff

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Welcome, Ti Laza!

Welcome, Ti Laza!

Ti Laza was referred to Wings of Hope by an American missionary who is friends with Wings of Hope. He knew Ti Laza was living at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, but they were having difficulties managing Ti Laza. He is approximately 5-years-old and has behavioral problems and hyperactivity. Ti Laza loves running around and can often be seen either chasing or being chased by the other kids or staff – and laughing the whole time.

Because of his mental and emotional issues, Ti Laza has a hard time following directions, but the Wings staff is working with him to improve his behavior. When he came to Wings he was called simply “Laza” but because there is another Wings resident named Lazar, we added “Ti”, which means “Little” to his name.

Welcome to the family, Ti Laza!

Photo credit: Renee Dietrich, Copyright 2016 

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Meet Dada!

Meet Dada!

Dada is a young girl with several physical and mental challenges. She also has seizures and vision problems. She is 7-years-old. She has a twin sister who is not disabled.

Dada was born without disabilities but became disabled as a result of a fever when she was six-months-old. Dada’s family lives in the same neighborhood as Jacky’s family in Port-au-Prince. Jacky identified the family as needing help to care for Dada, and they asked him to take Dada into the Wings of Hope family.

Dada’s mother visits her at Wings. Dada’s mental disabilities make it hard to communicate with her. She communicates by crying. She likes to be touched and can be soothed by talking softly to her and holding her or stroking her arm.

Welcome to the Wings family, Dada!

Photo credit: Renee Dietrich, Copyright 2016 

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