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Trip marks group’s second time there

By LAURA DUKES

Staff writer

About a year after a group from Middleham and St. Peter’s Episcopal Parish in Lusby helped to fund a school nurse in Haiti, the group was able to see firsthand that its mission is going well.

The group worked in partnership with La Resurrection Episcopal Parish in Gros Morne, Haiti, and St. Martin’s Parish in Severna Park, to provide a nurse for La Resurrection School, which serves about 830 students from grades kindergarten through 12. The nurse, Rosene Yacinthe, started working full time at the school in March.

Hugh Davies, who led the initiative at the church, explained that during a visit to the school in October 2011, he and fellow parishioners interviewed candidates for the position and Yacinthe “was by far the best qualified candidate.”

He said Middleham and St. Peter’s pays a portion of her salary, as well as equipment, supplies, medicine and infirmary costs. Davies said there is an agreement to support the program for 3.5 years.

“We wanted to respond in a way that would be more than just giving money to an organization,” said Davies, continuing that with the cost being around $10,000 a year, “we knew it would be a good investment.”

Davies said La Resurrection Episcopal Parish pays about $3,000 a year to help fund the nurse.

From Oct. 17 through Oct. 23 this year, Davies, his wife Diane, registered nurses Dale Yoe and Sandy Wilkins and Dr. Nancy Briggs, all of whom are members of Middleham and St. Peter’s Episcopal Parish, went to Haiti to work with Yacinthe and check her progress.

Diane said while they were there, they trained Yacinthe in vision and hearing testing; looked at her record keeping; met with parents; saw the workings of the school while it was in session; and networked with a local hospital and public officials.

She said all of this was done with the help of a 17-year-old translator who has dual citizenship in Haiti and Philadelphia.

While there, Davies said they also met with a Sisters of Mercy ministry, which will start working with Yacinthe to educate women on cervical cancer and its screenings.

He said the expectations of Yacinthe will be first aid; assessing students’ wellness and health; vaccines; classes on health education; and connecting with resources in the community.

“We found her to be bright and personable. She had a great rapport with the children and she’s committed to the project,” Davies said, explaining that Yacinthe is the Haitian equivalent to a registered nurse.

Diane said for young kids, there will be a strong emphasis on items like washing hands and brushing teeth. For older students, sexual education will be a priority.

After the most recent October trip, “I was so sure we had the right person doing the right job,” Diane said.

Briggs said the majority of children’s health issues in Haiti are malnutrition, cholera, HIV, infections and pneumonia.

“And there’s no clean water,” Briggs said.

“You use bottled water for brushing your teeth and washing your face,” Yoe said. “I really enjoyed the people, especially the children, but at the same time there was also a part of me that wanted to go home and get a hot shower.”

“I felt hopeful that she had accomplished so much in the time that she’s been there,” Briggs said.

Davies said despite all that has been accomplished, there is so much more that will need to be done at the school and in Haiti itself.

“There’s a big influx of promises [after a natural disaster] and two years later, there’s a lot of broken promises,” he said. “We hope to go on to other communities and other schools and expand this.”

ldukes@somdnews.com