Thursday, April 4, 2019

I am filled with and surrounded by more love than I could have ever imagined...

Alaina Hall is a volunteer at our NPH Mexico home who did something truly incredible for the children that we support. Read her piece below to learn more!

During my junior year of high school I experienced my first great rejection. I had applied to go on a summer trip to Peru with the American Youth Leadership Program. I made it to the interview round and was so excited to possibly be able to participate in this amazing program. A few weeks after the interview, I got the disappointing email that I was not chosen to go on the trip.

While upset about the rejection, I was still committed to the idea of traveling abroad and experiencing a new culture. I remembered that my church did a service trip to Mexico each summer, which seemed like a good alternative, so I signed up. I didn’t know then that this trip would change the course of my life.

When I got to NPH Mexico that summer, I found one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The kids were so generous, welcoming, and radiated pure love and light. Their smiles were infectious and even though my Spanish was pretty minimal, we could somehow communicate so easily without words. I went back home from that trip thankful that I had been able to experience something so amazing. The following summer I returned on the same trip, and that is when I decided I wanted to return to NPH as a volunteer after graduating from University.

During the fall of 2014, I began nursing school at the University of Pennsylvania. That same year, ‘Penn’ developed an award called the “President’s Engagement Prizes.” The prize is a $100,000 grant for graduating Penn seniors to design and implement a global, national, or local civic engagement project. When I heard about this award, I immediately thought of NPH and I became determined to apply for it when I became a senior.

Over the next years, I began reaching out to NPH, university professors, and anyone else who I thought could advise me on this project. With the support of so many people - my advisors Cindy and Nancy, Corinna and Pilar from NPH International Medical services, and my family and friends - the idea of “Healthy Pequeños” was formed.

Healthy Pequeños is a nurse-led, holistic infection prevention program aimed at addressing the global problem of pediatric infectious disease. Infectious diseases are the leading cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality around the world and are the primary health concern among the children at NPH Mexico.

The program consists of three parts: pathogen-exposure reduction through environmental changes, such as access to adequate sanitation facilities and clean water; health promotion and education aimed at children and their caregivers; and community infection surveillance by medical personnel.

During January of my senior year, I submitted the application. In April, I got a call from the University President telling me I had won. I immediately began to cry because I couldn’t believe that I would be able to return to NPH and contribute to the already amazing place that it is.

I have now been at NPH Mexico for almost 6 months. My mornings are spent in the clinic working on the project – writing the curriculum and giving the education lessons, collaborating with NPH staff to design and implement pathogen reduction repair projects, designing health promotion interventions, and working with the staff in the clinic on a variety of tasks. My afternoons and evenings consist of helping care for the "chicos" section of boys, ages 7-10.

The days can be long but they are filled with so much learning, laughing, and love. I am learning more than I ever thought possible in my first year as a nurse – how to manage a budget of $100,000, how to collaborate with different teams of people, how to learn from other cultures and communities, and ultimately how to turn a project idea into action.

I am also filled with and surrounded by more love than I could have ever imagined – the children, caregivers, other volunteers, and staff at NPH, as well as the Mexican people, have made a place that is very far and different from my home feel comfortable and familiar.

Looking back, I now realize that the rejection letter that hurt so much in the moment, would be what lead me to where I was meant to be. I have never been so sure of what I am meant to be doing and where I am meant to be doing it. NPH has given me so much – from igniting my initial passion in global health to welcoming me into a beautiful and loving family; I couldn’t be more grateful. I am so glad that through Healthy Pequeños I am able to give something back to an organization that has given me so much.





Thursday, February 21, 2019

Haiti’s capital sinks into violence...

Below is a first-person story from Haiti, written by Cassagnol Destine, Project Coordinator of NPH Haiti about the current situation.
 
An NPH staff member describes the situation in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince and how NPH is supporting the people
 
At two in the afternoon I get into an ambulance, together with other staff from the NPH St Damien Pediatric Hospital. We’re taking them to the areas where they live. Ambulances are the only means of transport respected by the demonstrators. On the way back we’ll pick up other staff and injured people.
 
The situation is chaotic. It doesn’t take long until we encounter the first roadblock. We slowly drive up to it. Everyone holds their breath, but then we’re allowed through without delay. On our way to the next blockade a group of about 250 people races towards us. They indicate to us that we shouldn’t try to go any further, but we need to get past the roadblock and drop off some of our passengers so that they can make their way home on foot through the narrow alleyways.
 
Tear gas, stones, and gunshots
 
The driver presses slowly onwards. He cranks down the window and talks to the demonstrators. They say that a confrontation between the police and looters has escalated. The police are using tear gas, rocks are being thrown, and there have been gunshots, though no one knows from which side. Then we see the blockades, the burning tires, and a small group of police trying to keep the situation under control. The police are exhausted from constantly being on duty; they are utterly outnumbered. Finally we manage to drop off all the staff without incident and pick up more passengers.
 
Breaking point on the street
 
Not all vehicles get away so easily. Another one arrived at a barricade just as the police had shot dead a youth who was throwing stones. The outraged crowd wanted the ambulance to transport the body. The ambulance, however, was already at full capacity, and the shooting would in any case have to be investigated.
 
The people exploded in rage. They took the ambulance hostage until finally some demonstrators recognized the NPH hospital name and defended the staff on board.
 
When the ambulance finally set off, rocks were thrown, smashing the rear windshield and seriously injuring one woman passenger. At that stage every second counted, because every new reaction could put the lives of all the staff at risk. With support via radio, the shocked driver maneuvered his way out of danger and brought the injured woman to the nearest hospital.
 
It’s all about family
 
The injured woman was Mary, our cook. She cooks for not only the staff, but also the children in the wards. Her capability and her love for the children are worth more than words can express. Many parents of children receiving treatment are so poor that they can’t afford to bring food into the hospital for their children. The same evening an ambulance collected Mary and brought her to a safe place, our partner organization St. Luke Hospital in Tabarre.
 
The ambulance driver was told to take a few days off. The next day he was nonetheless at his post by the hospital entrance. He said, “This is no time for quitting. We’ll get through this together.” It’s at times like this that I have a strong feeling that we’re not just a team of staff members, but a family—the NPH family.
Ambulance on a street in Port-au-Prince
 
NPH's St. Damien Pediatric Hospital
 
People waiting for water deliveries
 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I got to meet new people who became part of my family through love...

Below is a blog post by Molly Deinhart. Molly is 15 years old and from Knoxville, Tennessee. Last November, she visited NPH El Salvador on a Vision Trip. Here's what she had to say! 
 
This fall, I went on two trips. The first was to see friends and family, and to meet new members of my family. Once we arrived, we ate dinner, talked about new and exciting things that had happened in each of our lives, and waited in anticipation for events that would come later in the week. My family ate a large meal and was entertained. We danced together, we played ping-pong against each other, had a small soccer game, flew kites together, and ate delicious food as one big family. We opened up to one another and celebrated grand events together. We celebrated mass as a family and sang songs together. We showed our love for each other in various ways, such as teasing and complimenting each other, sharing experiences, and smiling together.
 
Now, I bet you wouldn’t believe that this family wasn’t created through blood or marriage, it was created through love. We were all different but connected. We were connected through God and through love. This all happened about a month ago at NPH El Salvador, not in the United States like you might have thought.
 
It was a day with warm weather, and a cool breeze, the sun’s rays were shining upon the ground, and children’s laughter rang out around us. We were surrounded by family and friends, happiness filled my heart, it seized my emotions and didn’t let go. On our first full day at the establishment, we arrived at NPH, and some children came to see us arrive, and they were so excited for us to be there, beaming in happiness. My family’s godchild was one of the kids that came to greet us. Our godson is 15 years old which is the same age as me. We talked with him for a while, trying to convert our minds to speaking Spanish instead of English. It was hard at first, but the more that I talked, the more easily it came to me. All of us went up to the soccer field where there was already a small soccer game going on with a mixture of Pequeños and Americans playing together. There were also some of the younger girls and boys flying kites and running around, screaming and laughing. It was truly amazing to see these children having so much fun. My dad, our godson, and I sat on the side of the field, just talking, for a really long time. My dad and our godson walked around the field while I went to fly kites with some of the little girls.
 
Unfortunately, after that, we had to leave. However, we were going into the city, Santa Ana, to visit the college students from NPH. We were greeted with a very warm welcome, receiving hugs, introductions, a tour, and great food. We ate dinner in an open-air courtyard and everyone bonded more deeply. My dad and I sat at a table with two young women and a young man. We sat there for a few hours, talking and laughing.
 
That week, I got to meet new people who became part of my family through love. I created much deeper bonds than I had ever hoped or imagined was possible. That week before Thanksgiving, I found more and more people to be thankful for and I also was given more people in my family to pray for each day. So, for my first trip, I went to visit my family in El Salvador. Then, the next week, was my second trip in which I traveled to Chicago and saw my aunts and uncles for Thanksgiving. Both trips were family focused and beautiful in their own way.
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2018 Highlights from NPH USA!

2018 was another wonderful year at NPH USA, and thanks to the support of our dedicated staff, board members, volunteers, sponsors, and donors, we have a lot to celebrate. Check out highlights from each region, as well as our national office volunteer program and St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Haiti below!

Northwest Region
  • 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of NPH in the Northwest region. While we celebrated all year long with our NW community, wrapping everything up with our Circle of Friends Gala was truly something special. Fr. Rick Frechette, from NPH Haiti, inspired us with his speech on the importance of responding to the needs of children with a spirit of “paz y bien” (peace and all good things) despite the challenges we face. We were also delighted to have a number of founding NW office members celebrate with us! 
  • This past July, we were thrilled to have a group of 38 people fly south to NPH Honduras. The visit to Rancho Santa Fe was a wonderful immersion into life at the home, allowing us to see firsthand the extensive services and opportunities NPH provides. One day, a number of fleeting hours on the ball court were shared by the children, staff, and NW group. Tennis and soccer balls flying overhead, this play-day was a chance to meet new faces with the fun of bracelet-making, drawing, competitive sports, jump rope, music, and more! Merlin Antunez, who is a former Pequeño, introduced us to The Holy Family Surgery Center, where he is the head surgeon. The facility is impressive and very well-equipped to serve not only the NPH home, but the greater Honduran community. At the end of each day, we shared reflections of the moments we noticed or shared with the children and staff that we would take with us. We can’t wait to return!
  • Our NW region is fortunate to be celebrating the exceptional leadership of a number of board members this year. Lee Grever was our 2018 Regional Board chair. He and his wife Annika hosted a Seattle Institute Student from the DR, where they first met and volunteered, while also leading and supporting our board throughout another exceptional year. Jessi Traughber and Paul Sandoval are the co-chairs of our Associate Board, who have led fearlessly and been motivating through a transition-year of the AB. We also celebrate Rachel Prusynski, a member of our Regional Board and founder/former member of the Associate Board, who was recognized by Seattle Met magazine with the Light A Fire 2018: Extraordinary Board Member award for her work and dedication to NPH and our work in Haiti!
  • The Northwest welcomed a new Development Coordinator, Anna Masako Hanson, to the office this year. A recent graduate, she is thrilled to join not only a marvelous team, but also the entire NPH community, and we are thrilled to have her! Her energy, dedication, and passion are infectious to the whole team. She is happy to have met and now sponsor an amazing girl in Honduras during the summer immersion trip. 
  • In August, with the continued financial support from the MAPFRE Foundation and other local partners, the NW welcomed an amazing 8th cohort of The Seattle Institute. We welcome Ricky (NPH DR), Moy (NPH Guatemala), Fany (NPH Honduras), Liamar (NPH Nicaragua), and Rafa (NPH Peru) to the NW region! We are looking forward to hearing their stories and seeing how their leadership skills develop over the course of the year.   


 

Southwest Region
  • Nella Terra Cellars was an amazing partner to our SW team in 2018. We hosted 65 people at Una Noche Bajo Los Estrellas on October 4th, and pequeños from the NPH Mexico folkloric music and dance troupe performed. Nella Terra Cellars was so gracious with their space and libations. Supporters raised nearly $3,000 and 12 new godparents were welcomed into the NPH family that evening!
  • This year with the hard work of volunteers, the Denver Professionals Board was created! They successfully hosted their first trivia night and the second annual Get Closer Colorado dinner, tripling the number of attendees, introducing 4 new godparents to the NPH family and raising over $7,500. If you are interested in attending our events or joining our board, please reach out to our office at infosw@nphusa.org.
  • We had some amazing volunteers dedicate their time and energy to making our year a success. Special thanks to Debbie Whims, Cheryl Cook, Dolores Cuellar, and Tish Denney. Each of these women are incredibly dedicated to NPH and always welcome the opportunity to help.
  • Many SW supporters invited us into their homes this year by hosting a NPH House Party! They sponsored the parties and invited their friends and family to learn more about NPH’s mission and child sponsorship program.
  • Thank you to our amazingly supportive Tucson community who helped us raise over $50,000 and connected 8 children with new godparents. Thank you especially to St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church and the Consulado de México for their amazing partnerships.




Upper Midwest Region
  • In 2018, the Upper Midwest Young Professionals Board hosted a new event raising over $18,000! It was a masquerade-style dance in downtown Minneapolis called Dance Your Masque Off! Donations from the event were used to sponsor a university student named Jameson from NPH El Salvador. Over 100 people attended, and this exciting event will now take place annually. Thank you to everyone who contributed!
  • In May 2018, Serena Steele joined the Upper Midwest team as our Development Officer. Serena is a Michigan girl who loves to travel and spend time with her husband, Mark, and dog, Breslin. Serena is responsible for expanding our fundraising reach beyond the Twin Cities. In September 2018, we also welcomed Abby Saunders as our new Development Coordinator. She is also a Minnesota transplant, originally from Wisconsin and is getting married at the end of January! Abby will oversee the 5k Run/Walk, volunteer efforts, and child sponsorships. Congratulations to Natalie Hursey for her promotion to Development Manager. Natalie oversees the Young Professionals Board and growing our fundraising efforts in the region.
  • One of our long-standing events, our annual Cinco de Mayo 5K Run/Walk was the most successful it’s been in the past 3 years! The event had over 200 participants, 12 corporate sponsors, 40 volunteers, and raised over $18,000 for NPH Mexico’s medical program. Congratulations to the 5k committee!
  • An enormous thank you to ALL of our 2018 supporters who helped the Upper Midwest Region to raise $2.3 million! Your financial and volunteer efforts do not go unnoticed. A special thank you to two significant individuals whose financial support goes above and beyond what any words of gratitude can express - Wayne Dirkman and Helene Houle - your financial support, love and prayers for our NPH kids to reach their fullest potential is greatly appreciated.
  • Branching out into Wisconsin, we had our first NPH event in the Eau Claire area at Modicum Brewery. Dr. Edwin and Steve O’Mahoney from NPH Honduras spoke and made personal visits to many Honduras connections in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area. In Iowa, Regional Board members, David and Ruth Miller hosted a fundraising house party at their home raising over $12,000. In Minnesota, Regional Board President, Vic Roers hosted a fundraising gathering “Taste of NPH” raising over $5,000.
 


 

Midwest Region
  • Famous sportscaster and friend of NPH, Bob Costas, emceed the 2018 NPH USA Football Legends Classic in the Midwest Region that raised almost $240,000! The stately Biltmore Country Club in North Barrington, Illinois was the setting for this event and will be the location of our 2019 outing on August 12th!
  • The region's first ever Viva La Familia Gala, with its exciting colorful and Latin vibes, raised more than $220,000 for the children of NPH. We rented out the entire space of Latinicity, a Latin-themed food hall in downtown Chicago’s Theatre District, and a good time was had by all. Local and national TV and radio personality, Lou Manfredini, was our emcee.
  • All eight members of Team NPH USA crossed the finish line during the 2018 Chicago Marathon and raised more than $15,000 for our cause. This is the largest amount Team NPH USA has raised for the Chicago Marathon yet!
  • Longtime friend of the NPH USA Midwest Region and former employee of NPH, Father Ron Hicks, became Bishop Ron Hicks on September 17. ¡Felicidades, Monseñor Ron! 
  • The Midwest Region directed seven trips to NPH homes in which 158 people participated. Visiting an NPH home is a great way to see how your charitable contributions are being spent. It’s also a great way to learn and experience NPH before becoming a donor!
 
 
 

Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Region
  • Participation in our Youth Ambassadors and NPH Club programs in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast region continues to grow and contribute to our overall community engagement and outreach goals. Our 2nd Annual Love Without Limits had over 30 youth volunteers. The Duxbury youth committee hosted a very successful ornament fundraiser. And our Youth Ambassadors have continued to share NPH with their family, friends, and communities through social media, events and fundraisers.
  • Miguel Polo, a university student from NPH Dominican Republic received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music and spent a few weeks this summer in Boston with us!
  • It was a great year for events in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast region. We hosted our first event in Rochester, NY and our 2nd annual Oysters for Orphans event in Duxbury, MA. Our Irish Hearts for Orphans Benefit Dance was also a success, and we cannot wait to celebrate the 10th anniversary in 2019!
  • We are overjoyed from another successful Pequeño Tour and are confident our school and parish visits will lead to continuous NPH experiences, topping our 11 immersion trips and 182 visitors to NPH Guatemala and NPH Dominican Republic in 2018!
  • This year we welcomed some new faces and announced staff promotions in the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast region. Casey Rector was hired as the new Development Coordinator. Elizabeth Caletka was promoted to Development Manager, and Tempie Thompson joined our team as the Regional Director!


 

Southeast Region
  • The Southeast region’s annual event, Spring Fling 2018, was held in early June in Miami as a reception for NPH USA donors and new supporters, with special “apoyo” from the Dominican-American community in the Miami area. It was a fun evening of food and drink, with networking among the guests. There was also a short program featuring comments by Alfredo Benitez, an Hermano Mayor, and many heart-warming stories about NPH homes in the Dominican Republic and other countries.
  • University student Zebastian Alzamora from Miami worked with his fraternity brothers on behalf of NPH USA at a student-supported, fundraising event on campus that focused on organizations involved in social issues. From October 25-26, 2018, a group of Drake Fraternity brothers at Austin College, in Sherman, Texas, manned the NPH USA booth to promote the mission and tell the story about the kids in all the NPH homes. The Drake Fraternity fundraising was a great success!



National Office Volunteer Program
  • Translators volunteered 850 hours and translated 3,700 letters in our national office in 2018, and general volunteers volunteered 550 hours for a total of 1,440 hours!
  • We were fortunate to collaborate with student translators and volunteers from the British International School of Chicago, South Loop and the Cross Country team from Malcolm X College in Chicago.
  • In March last year, we mailed 3,500 report cards, and in October we mailed 3,000 report cards from the children to their sponsors!
  • Alexandria Corriveau, a former International Volunteer, joined our team of volunteers at the national office as a Spanish translator after completing her year of service at NPH Honduras.
  • On December 9th, 25 volunteers joined us as we prepared 7,000 Christmas cards to be mailed to sponsors!


 
 
St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Haiti
  • Tom Caruso, Financial Advisor, introduced the mission of St. Damien to his clients this past year in a great show of friend-raising for the cause!
  • Renee DeVinck shared her nursing expertise in the Maternity Ward and ICU at St. Damien during two separate visits in 2018! 
  • Angelo Rose, Lawyer and Musician, along with the Haiti’s Rain Committee he put together, hosted a private movie screening and benefit concert in his hometown of Rochester, NY to support our St. Damien Pediatric Hospital Fund!
  • Will Agee is a filmmaker who helped build awareness about St. Damien with his documentary, The Land of High Mountains.
  • Our medical partners of the St. Damien Collaborative lent their expertise for training and guidance and generously initiated fundraising efforts for the hospital.
  • Our faithful church partners and committed friends who organize fundraising efforts year after year again helped support St. Damien. Thank you to St. Louis Church in Pittsford NY, St. Luke’s Church in Westborough MA, and the Friends of Haiti Committee in St. Helena, CA. Thanks to all our St. Damien supporters who provide so many deserving children with compassionate medical care and hope for a brighter future. You are a gift to the NPH St. Damien family!
 
 
 
THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE WHO MADE 2018 ANOTHER PHENOMENAL YEAR AT NPH USA. It is only through your partnership and support that we can truly transform the lives of children in need. Help us continue to grow our family at NPH and reach even more children by making a donation to our mission today - there's no better way to celebrate!